How To Find The Right Liquid Exfoliator For Your Skin

Garden of Wisdom

Unless you have been living under a rock for the past two years, you will have noticed a sharp increase in the amount of acid-based skincare products hitting the shelves. While scrubs might have been the tried and tested method of sloughing away dead skin a few years back, now it is all about the liquid exfoliator. So much so, Pinterest has seen a 58% increase in searches for liquid exfoliators.

Yet, there is still a stigma attached to using skin acids, especially in high doses. Your skin has a carefully balanced pH level, which keeps the barrier healthy and strong, locking in water and nutrients. Overusing abrasive acids can disturb this balance and excessive use over time can damage the barrier. What happens then? Well, you’re more likely to have a skin flare-up of acne, eczema or rosacea, and it could also cause premature ageing.

That said, using acids as part of your skincare routine has a lot of benefits. From unclogging your pores and smoothing out your skin’s texture to reducing the appearance of pigmentation and boosting your collagen production. It just requires some research to find the right liquid exfoliator for your skin…

For stubborn blackheads: Salicylic Acid

Salicylic acid is a beta hydroxy acid (BHA) and it is oil soluble, which means it can help loosen any built up of dirt and oil in your pores. It is by far one of the best ways to reduce your blackheads at home. You can use a salicylic acid serum all over or just on the problem areas. 

For plumper, smoother skin: Glycolic Acid

Together with lactic acid, glycolic is one of the most well known alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs). Not only does it help to get rid of dead skin cells on the surface and smooth out uneven textures, but it also works on a deeper level to have recharge your natural collagen production. The result? Smoother, brighter, firmer skin following regular use.

For sensitive skin: PHA Acid

If you have super sensitive skin or are wary of acids in general, polyhydroxy acids are the perfect place to start. Similar to AHAs in terms of what they do, PHAs are much gentler. You might not have heard too much about them up until recently because they were under patented technology. Now that patent has lifted, it’s likely you will see them popping up everywhere as the benefits easily outweigh any potential drawbacks with this acid. Read Shabir’s paper on polyhydroxy acids to learn more about their skin benefits. 

For acne-scarring: Azelaic Acid

For some people tackling the breakout is only the first step as they are then left with visible scarring. While azelaic acid won’t make the scars disappear overnight, with regular use it can help ease their appearance. Azelaic acid helps to increase your cell turnover and gets rid of dead skin cells to make space for the new ones, which helps to reduce the appearance of pigmentation and acne scarring. Depending on your skin type you can use an azelaic acid serum twice a day, but you will need to wear SPF during the day.

For those who can’t live without a scrub…

For some, there is nothing quite like physically scrubbing away dirt, grime and dead skin, but it is important to find the right one. Poorly formulated face scrubs or aggressive overuse can cause tiny micro-tears in your skin. It’s worth taking the time to find a scrub that uses smooth, rounded beads, which reduce the chances of micro-tears and offer a gentler exfoliation. Try Derma E’s range of scrubs or Nannette de Gaspe’s Essence Noir Polish.   

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  • Nicola

    Thanks for the recommendations. Where does Retinol come in? Can you use it safely with other acids? I’m 48 with fairly good skin, slightly dehydrated and some large pores. I use GoW retinol 1% once a week and pixi glow lotion every other day, but am never really sure what I’m doing!

  • http://www.victoriahealth.com/ Victoria Health

    Hi Nicola, Retinol is not an exfoliator. It displays cell renewal properties which is why it is used to treat acne and it also enhances collagen synthesis which is why it is used in an anti ageing regimen. Retinol’s side effects can be skin prone to dryness due to inflammation which misleads many people to think that it is an exfoliator. Used in conjunction with acids such as glycolic acid in the tonic you use, the combination of the two ingredients can mean healthy rejuvenation of skin.
    Best wishes,
    Shabir

  • Nicola

    Thanks very much for replying!

  • http://www.victoriahealth.com/ Victoria Health

    You are welcome Nicola.

  • Sarah

    I was wondering whether you can advise me on a good retinol. Currently I have the Ordinary one but I have had the product for quite some time since I do not use it regularly. I am in my late 40 s and still prone to acne. I have sensitive skin and I am very pale. I am currently using GOW, I have most of the acids you mention in this article which I use intermittently. I also have hyularonic acid and peptides. I also use a B3 serum. Thank you

  • http://www.victoriahealth.com/ Victoria Health

    Dear Sarah, I would consider using the Retistar Retinol Serum which is one of the gentlest serums on the market working to enhance cell turnover without inflammation.
    Best wishes,
    Shabir

  • Amirah Nrhm

    Hi there! Recently I purchased both GoW Vitamin C serum and Azelaic Acid. So far, I have incorporated the Vitamin C serum, moisturiser and SPF during the day and Azelaic Acid, essence and moisturiser at night. I was wondering if these applications are appropriate or would you recommend better ways to maximise the benefits of them? I am in my mid-20s and have a combi skin (dry-sensitive). I do get occasional breakouts too. :( Thank you!

  • http://www.victoriahealth.com/ Victoria Health

    Hi Amirah, your current regimen is perfectly fine and I would recommend you continue to use the same serums and order of usage.
    Best wishes,
    Shabir

  • http://www.victoriahealth.com/ Victoria Health

    Hi Hawwa, acids can be used with retinoids such as adapalene however I would recommend getting your skin used to the retinoid and then using an acid such as azelaic acid which is a skin friendly and you may wish to use this once a week or maybe every two weeks to exfoliate skin.
    Best wishes,
    Shabir