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Your Exfoliating Questions Answered

Your Exfoliating Questions Answered

By now we’ve all heard of the importance of exfoliating but, after that it starts to get confusing so we’re breaking it all down for you right here, in our guide to all things exfoliating

Let’s start with why we need to exfoliate. Exfoliation is a key part of a good skincare routine. As we age our skin cell turnover slows down significantly. When we are young, our cells regenerate themselves every 7-14 days, but as we age it slows down to every 28-40 days. This means that it is those dead skin cells that are piling up on our skin and can lead to a host of issues including dry, dehydrated skin, clogged pores and breakouts. Exfoliating weekly is going to help get rid of that dead skin as well as give you a more glowing and clear complexion. It also helps any other product you are using penetrate better into your skin. 

What type is right for me and how often? This depends on your skin type and skin concerns.  Check out our guide below:

Chemical exfoliators use the chemical compounds of different types of acids (known as AHA’s and BHA’s)  derived from ingredients such sugar cane,  fermented milk, almonds, other fruit acids and willow bark.  They work by dissolving the intercellular bonds that are holding together the dead skin cells essentially making them very easy to sweep away.  

Chemical exfoliators come in many different forms:

Good for oily skin and whiteheads/blackheads

Good for oily and combination skin and for texture and blackheads

Good for combination and  dry skin, clogged pores, dullness, fine lines and wrinkles
Exfoliating Pads:

Good for combination and oily skin, clogged pores and dullness

The key with chemical exfoliators is to start slow, only use one night a week and build up to three nights a week and don’t combine with other actives such as Retinols and Vitamin C. 

Avoid chemical exfoliators if:
  • You’ve recently been exposed to the sun
  • You are showing increased signs of hyperpigmentation (especially in darker skin tones). 
  • You are experiencing sensitivity 
  • You are pregnant



Enzymes are the gentler cousin to chemical exfoliators (technically they are still a chemical as well). They are typically derived from fruits like papaya, pineapple and papaya. This type of exfoliation only affects the outer layer of the skin (they don’t get into the intercellular levels like AHA’s and BHA’s) by dissolving the dead skins and the glue which holds the dead skin cells together. Typically they are better for someone who’s skin is a bit more on the sensitive side. 

Just like chemical exfoliators they come in different forms:


Good combo, dry and oily skin also good for textured skin and dullness
Good for oily skin and for textured, breakout prone skin

Physical Exfoliators use friction to slough away that top layer of dead skin but, because you are using friction if you are acne prone or sensitive this type of exfoliation you’ll want to avoid because they can often be too harsh or even spread bacteria but, if you’re all about instant satisfaction of feeling freshly “scrubbed” then a physical exfoliator maybe a great option for you.

Good for normal to combination skin type and dullness

Avoid Physical Exfoliators if: 
  • You’ve recently been exposed to the sun
  • You are sensitive/redness prone
  • You are breakout-prone

Gommage exfoliators are probably the least well known of the exfoliator family but, a favorite amongst our Estheticians at HelloAva.  
The term gommage comes from the French word which means to “erase” and the feel of a gommage exfoliator feels much like that of an eraser with a piling affect to help gently slough off the outermost layer of dead skin and is our top pick for anyone with dry, dehydrated and/or sensitive skin.

Our lead Estheticians give this advise when it comes to exfoliating:
  • Start slow, your skin doesn’t need to be exfoliating every day so start with just one night a week and if needed work up to two to three nights a week
  • Avoid using any other harsh actives (like Vitamin C’s and Retinols as well) on the nights you are exfoliating
  • Pay attention to what your skin is telling you, if your skin starts to feel a bit dry, sensitive or irritated scale back for a few weeks and remember exfoliating shouldn’t be painful, it shouldn’t make you breakout so always proceed with caution :)