When you think about exfoliation, the face scrub you have sitting in the shower is probably the first thing that comes to mind. But what about the rest of your body?! Just like the skin on your face, your scalp, lips, back and even feet could use a little exfoliating to slough away dead skin and buildup. Basically, where there’s skin, you should be exfoliating for better skin health, inside-out.
Benefits Of Exfoliation
Your skin’s natural ability to shed dead skin cells slows down as you age, which can lead to duller-looking skin. Exfoliation helps to speed up your skin’s regeneration process and reveal smoother, brighter and more refined skin. Regularly exfoliating can also help other products (think serums, moisturisers and creams) penetrate your skin better since they won’t be sitting on top of lots of buildup.
Physical Vs. Chemical Exfoliators
For those new to the game, there are two kinds of exfoliators: physical and chemical. Physical exfoliators use grains and granules to buff away dead skin cells and refine skin texture while chemical exfoliators use chemicals like acids (your AHAs and BHAs) and enzymes to loosen and dissolve the cells.
Which Should I Use?
Well, it really depends on your personal preference and skin type. Since chemical exfoliators don’t involve any “scrubbing” of the skin, they are generally gentler and suitable for more skin types. Many chemical exfoliants also do more than just smooth your skin–you can expect benefits such as reduced wrinkles, blackheads and acne.
Physical exfoliators tend to produce immediate results and stimulate blood circulation for brighter skin. Some may find physical exfoliators too abrasive but I’ve found some (see below) that work gently and effectively on my sensitive skin so I do like to include these in my routine as well.
Ahead, we’ve rounded up a good mix of physical and chemical exfoliators so take your pick for your next skin exfoliator!
How often: every few weeks
Let’s start from the top: the scalp. If healthier, shinier (I don’t mean grease) hair is what you’re after, perhaps a scalp detox is what you need. The condition of our hair very much depends on our scalp which, by the way, is also skin and is susceptible to clogged pores, breakouts and flakiness. Yikes. Ready to get rid of all the grime and grow out luscious locks?
This scrub contains salt crystals which sweep away any sebum and dead skin buildup on the scalp. The gel also transforms into a light foam as you massage it into your scalp, and the menthol leaves your scalp feeling squeaky clean and refreshed. I personally enjoy the cooling sensation that remains after rinsing, and find that my hair has extra volume and shine afterwards which is an added bonus.
Drunk Elephant fans will be delighted to know that the cult-brand’s hair and body line recently dropped in Singapore, and this scalp scrub is part of the club. Supercharged with a blend of AHAs, BHAs and biodegradable beads, any dry flakes or gunk clogging hair follicles won’t stand a chance. The concoction of fatty acid-rich plant oils also keeps the scalp moisturised and balanced at a pH level of 3.7.
How often: 1-2 times a week for those skin prone to irritation or redness, 2-3 times a week for other skin types
We’re probably the most familiar with exfoliating this part. Including exfoliation in your skincare routine can have a ton of benefits like evening out the skin tone, preventing breakouts and helping other skincare products absorb better into the skin.
I literally have a tub of this mask sitting in my fridge right now. This mask is my go-to when my skin gets dry patches or my complexion could use a little brightening. Unlike many physical exfoliants that I’ve used before, this mask has a milky texture with very fine ground rice so it’s really gentle on the skin. The best part about using this mask is that the effects are immediate. After rinsing off, you’ll notice how soft your skin feels and how radiant it looks! All thanks to rice extract. It also takes forever to go through one of these tubs so it’s definitely a huge bang for your buck.
If you’re concerned about pigmentation, large pores and fine lines, this creamy cleanser from mySKINBAR helps with those problems--all while gently removing dead skin cells using Lactic Acid (chemical exfoliant!) This creamy concoction also houses natural moisturising ingredients like Sunflower Oil, Rosehip Oil and Vitamin E so your skin will be left feeling baby-soft after each use.
How often: 1-2 times a week
If you work or sleep in an air-conditioned environment, chances are your lips are in a constant parched state. Try using a moisturising lip scrub to buff away dead skin and hydrate them.
This sweet-smelling lip scrub from Fresh has brown sugar crystals that gently slough away dry, flaky skin while the shea butter and jojoba oil moisturise your lips. The result: a pillowy soft pout ready for some lipstick that will glide on oh-so-smoothly.
If you don’t wish to spend additional dollars on a lip scrub, you can always opt for a little D-I-Y. Here’s a simple recipe that I’ve tried and loved:
- Mix 1 teaspoon of honey and ½ teaspoon of coconut (or olive) oil with 2 teaspoons of sugar.
- Massage the mixture onto your lips for about a minute and rinse off with warm water.
Sugar is a natural exfoliant which will help buff away dead skin. The coconut oil nourishes and moisturizes your lips, and the honey has healing properties. You can always adjust the coconut oil and sugar ratio to get the consistency you like.
Back + Body
How often: 1-2 times a week
Let’s be honest, our backs often get neglected when we shower–mostly because it’s out of sight and it’s also not the easiest place to reach. If you struggle with the dreaded backne, adding exfoliation to your showering routine could change everything.
This body polish has both physical and chemical exfoliators to smooth bumpy skin and reveal healthy, glowing skin. The chemical AHAs--Glycolic Acid and Lactic Acid--help to decongest pores which is excellent for those struggling with backne or even chest acne. Just be sure to wear sunscreen before heading out after using this product because the chemical exfoliants can cause your skin to be more prone to sunlight.
How often: every few months or so
Remember those magical foot peels that caused your feet to shed for days? I’m talking wear-socks-everywhere-or-leave-a-trail kind of shedding. I was so fascinated by the whole thing that it never hit me that the peeling was the work of chemical exfoliants.
Inside the two plastic booties is a gel that contains lactic and glycolic acid which nibble on the bonds holding dead skin cells. Wait a few days after using and watch as the skin peels away in satisfying layers from your feet. Ta-da! You now have baby soft feet that you’ll want to parade around in your favourite sandals.
I know some people get grossed out when they see layers of foot skin peel, or simply don’t want to wait a week to get smooth feet so if that’s you, simply use a body scrub for your feet as well.
All right, that about sums up our exfoliating journey! Remember to always use moisturiser afterwards (except for your scalp, of course) to replenish the moisture in your skin. Have you tried incorporating exfoliators into your routine from head to toe? If not, give it a shot and let us know how it goes.