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Exfoliators and Acne

If you're enthusiastic about skincare, you've come across the term "Exfoliation" and its positive effects on the skin. For a better understanding, exfoliation is the process of removing the top layer of the skin, which contains dead cells that make the surface seem dull, old, and unattractive.

As expected, removing this top surface allows the fresh layer underneath to be visible, making the body look attractive and healthy. The benefits of this method are numerous, but one must wonder, does exfoliation affect acne production?

Expect to have this question answered in this article as it will explain the effects of exfoliation on acne and how to execute the technique precisely to remove these bumps.


Benefits of Exfoliation on Acne

The advantages of exfoliation are many, and they involve acne control, but before spelling out the benefits, it's essential to understand how acne forms.

Acne production happens when dead skin cells are transported into the pores through the body's oil, thereby clogging the orifice. Furthermore, the need to release sebum from this blocked follicle causes the area to swell, resulting in inflammation, and matter could escalate if the area becomes infected by bacteria.

Exfoliants help prevent acne production by eliminating the dead skin, thereby preventing them from travelling into the pores. Without these waste cells in the pores, inflammation and irritation cannot occur, making the surface free of bumps.

On the other hand, you can liberate already clogged pores before swelling occurs by charcoal masks or chemical exfoliants. These items can dissolve or absorb the dead cells, grime, and oil out of the orifice, freeing the location and preventing acne from appearing.


Skin Types and their Acne Proneness

Observations by dermatologists reveal that five unique skin types are shared throughout the global population, and each variation behaves differently. These skin types include normal, dry, oily, combination, and sensitive skin, and they are prone to acne differently.


Normal Skin Type

The list begins with normal skin types, which are often considered the best since they are not too dry or oily. In addition, the pores in this category lubricate the skin with sebum in proper amounts, meaning that the skin rarely gets prone to acne unnecessary.

However, with poor personal hygiene or lack of frequent cleansing, the dead cells and oil will gather enough to invade and block the pores, leading to the natural production of acne.

Nevertheless, the average person with normal skin - not too oily or dry - rarely develops acne except under particular conditions.


Dry Skin Type

Everyone experiences dry skin due to specific weather conditions or activity that rids the body of its moisture; however, some people stay this way for most of their lives.

This condition is usually genetic and goes away with age; nevertheless, it's important to note that dry skins don't possess acne like other skin types, but the constant lack of moisture is problematic.

Dryness in the skin reduces its elasticity, causing breaks on the surface, which attract bacteria and lead to irritation and other types of inflammation.

On the other hand, other factors can result in acne-like dust, make-up, and other particles getting into the pores, causing a blockage that results in acne. However, naturally getting acne due to the combination of sebum and dead skin cells is low in people with dry skins.


Oily Skin Type

Dermatologists agree that people with oily skin are more likely to develop severe acne than any other skin type due to the excess production of oil. In addition, oily skin's description produces too much sebum, causing the surface to appear shiny and lubricated.

According to the way acne forms, this skin type is perfect for developing acne. This is because the sebum conveniently transports dead skin, dirt, and other potential blockages from the surface into the pores.

The frequency of this occurrence is high, causing people with oily skin to battle acne, pimples, and other facial bumps for several years.


Combination Skin Type

This skin type is a mixture of dry and oily skin, as one portion of the face is drowning in body oil while the other suffers from extreme dryness. The acne proneness of this type is relatively mild as the T-section (forehead, nose, and chin) are highly moisturized, while the cheeks remain dry.

Therefore, acne develops mainly in the T-section and rarely on the cheeks; thus, the bumps are forced to a concentrated area which can be considered detrimental or acceptable depending on the individual.


Sensitive Skin

Sensitive skin is the least pleasant of the five skin types as it negatively reacts to beauty products and a host of beneficial chemicals for the skin. People often dub this skin type as Irritated or fragile skin as it becomes red, leaks sebum profusely, or swells due to chemicals, heat, and other elements.

The acne proneness of this skin type isn't dependent on sebum but more on sweat and other irritations resulting in breakouts with red bumps and pustules. Additionally, treating this type is tricky and often requires a visit to a dermatologist.


How to Exfoliate and Remove Acne

Before considering exfoliation to combat acne, note that there are two types of exfoliants, including physical and chemical exfoliants. The former deals with products containing relatively rough and sharp components - like scrubs, brushes, and sponges - for peeling and scaling off the dead skin tissue.

While the latter (chemical exfoliation) primarily consists of chemical compounds, beta hydroxy acids (BHAs) like salicylic acid or alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) such as glycolic acid. These components help dissolve dead skin cells, disconnecting them from the fresh layer underneath, making it easier to wash off.

Due to the nature of acne, dermatologists advise against using physical exfoliants to rectify them as they can cause further irritation and possibly infection. Instead, opt for chemical exfoliants containing the oil-loving beta hydroxy acids (BHAs) as they penetrate deep into the pores to dissolve dead skin and free the blockage.

Before application, wash the face with a cleanser to eliminate further obstacles, then apply on your face with a cotton pad (for liquids) or with your fingers (for gels and lotions). Next, rub it throughout the face except for the eyelids (use eye Creams instead) and repeat two to three times a week.

Don't expect instant results on the day of application because chemical exfoliants take time to work. Therefore, be patient and continue the process for two to three days and watch your face improve.



Exfoliation can help eliminate acne before and even after they appear. We recommend physical exfoliants for eliminating dead skin cells before they block the pores and chemical exfoliants after the acne surfaces. Consider visiting a dermatologist if your skin reacts negatively to either option as you may have sensitive skin.

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