Monday, February 2, 2015

Skincare Rescue Plan: Exfoliating

This is another fun one that totally changed my perspective on skincare.  I think it has the most wow factor, too.  Chemicals?  Good for my skin?  Yes!

How you're SUPPOSED to exfoliate your skin.  Really.

Remember in our first post when I said natural ingredients don't always equal good things for your face?  And chemicals don't always equal bad things for your face?  This post is all about that.  And if you're not convinced yet, how about some extreme examples to get you thinking.  Paprika is a natural ingredient, but you wouldn't want to use it as an eyeshadow, right?  And water is technically a chemical, but you wouldn't want to wash your face without it!  Stretch your mind today, friend, because this is the day things change.

Let me introduce you to chemical exfoliants.  Alpha Hydroxy Acide (AHA) and Beta Hydroxy Acid (BHA).  These chemicals work with your skin's chemistry to help it shed dead skin cells and degunk your pores, respectively.  (I've found that once I've said that much, people are usually 100% on board with chemical exfoliants.)  They work best when left on your face for 15-20 minutes so they can work their magic.

First, what not to do: Abrasive exfoliants like scrubs like St. Ive’s apricot scrub or sugar scrubs, anything with grainy/sharp particles can cut into your skin. Throw.  These.  Away.  Seriously.  Scrubs can make tiny lacerations in your skin and exacerbate your skin problems.  Don't do it!  Even using a Clarisonic can be harmful if used every day (a few couple a week is okay, though).  Chemical exfoliants are the way to go.  They work into the surface of your skin to separate what’s not supposed to be there from the rest of your beautiful face.

Now it is recommended that you bring in chemical exfoliators slowly, so don't rush in all at once.  Also, if you dive headfirst without a patch test, you might end up putting an acid on your face with much more strength than you need.  Once your skin becomes acclimated, though, you can use both AHA and BHA in your routine and reap the benefits of both.  I often use both in one day.

    AHAs and BHAs have different benefits, which I’ll summarize below, but for in depth information, here’s a rundown of the differences between AHA and BHA.  Definitely read up on those if you're curious, but I'm including what I think to be the most important information here so you don't miss it.

“With physical exfoliation, you're removing dead skin cells right then and there. With chemical exfoliation, you're just making those cells a little easier to shed when they're ready to. You're not trapping any dead skin. It'll fall off in the same manner that it naturally would, just a little sooner.
Chemical exfoliation does not change the way your skin cells fall of. Most of dust is actually dead skin. The acids do need time to work (15-20 minutes), but after that time the acid is neutralized and you can moisturize. You won't "glue on" the dead skin with moisturizer. If the cells are going to shed, they will regardless of what you do to them.”

AHA exfoliants work into the surface of your face to break up the glue holding the dead skin cells together.  This lets your dead skin fall away easier, which reveals fresh, pretty skin underneath.  AHAs don’t play well with oil, though, so if you’re using oil cleansing, you’ll want to cleanse with a regular gentle cleanser afterward to make sure your face is clean so the AHA can sink in.  Also, AHAs increase photosensitivity, so either use them only at night or put on an amazing sunscreen after using it in the morning.

There are three kinds of acid used in AHAs: glycolic, lactic, and mandelic (info here).  They have different molecular structures; I listed them in order of smallest to largest.  The smaller the molecular structure, the easier it is for the product to get in between the small crevices in your skin.  Cool stuff, huh?

College girl budget AHA product:
St. Ive’s exfoliating pads (60 ct.) Here are pictures.
Type of acid used: lactic acid (what percentage isn’t revealed, but the folks at Paula’s Choice think it must be at least 5%)
Price: around $5 at drugstores for 60 pads

Methods: Different acids and acid levels, and they come in liquid, gel, or cream versions
Price: If you use a referral code for $10 off (here’s mine) and look for a sale, you can get 6 months worth for $10 +shipping, which is actually cheaper than the St. Ive’s option.

Most BHAs use salicylic acid, which is not recommended if you have an aspirin allergy.  BHAs work by penetrating pores and degunking them.  They’re typically helpful alongside oily skin.  As far as we know, BHAs don’t affect sun sensitivity.  

College girl budget BHA product:
Stridex pads (in the red box) (55 ct.)
Method: 2% salicylic acid
Price: around $5 at drugstores for 55 pads

Method: Different acids and acid levels, and they come in liquid, gel, or cream versions
Price: If you use a referral code for $10 off (here’s mine) and look for a sale, you can get 6 months worth for $9 +shipping, which is actually cheaper than the St. Ive’s option.
Note: Lots of people recommend the 2% BHA from Paula’s Choice

Before I sign off, I want to say (again!) that you need to be sure to let your chemical exfoliant rest on your face for 15-20 minutes so it can do its thing without having the pH disturbed by other products.  To help you be patient while you wait, I'll end with a list of great things to do in the meantime.  Add your own idea in the comments!
  1. Yoga, just not enough to sweat
  2. Make dinner (because why not start your skincare routine right when you get home?)
  3. Walk the dog
  4. Craft
  5. Paint your nails
  6.  Go through your favorite Lindsay Eryn blog posts
  7. Share your favorite Lindsay Eryn blog posts
  8. Watch an episode of The Office
  9. Homework
  10. Call your mom
  11. Journal
  12. Have some hot tea and meditate
  13. Think of jokes to say during the next awkward silence
  14. Write a list of favorites
  15. Create a playlist for your BFF

What do you think?  Could you put down the scrubs?  Could you make the switch?

By the way, PAULA'S CHOICE IS HAVING A 20% OFF SALE ON THEIR EXFOLIANTS RIGHT NOW!  The promotion actually expires a 9pm (Pacific Time) February 3rd, so there's not much more time!  Click here to go shop or click here to go shop using my referral code and get $10 off your order.


  1. such a fantastic detailed post! thank you for sharing such great advice! id love it if youd comment back http://www.amyelizabethfashion.com/2015/02/the-perfect-gluten-free-snacking.html xx

  2. I think making a playlist for your BFF is the best idea on your list.

    And I can't wait until my skin isn't pregnant and hormonal so I can give your advice a try!

    1. Well if you have any tips for hormonal pregnant skin, I'd love to hear!


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