• An Exfoliant; The 'Instructions for Use'

An Exfoliant; The ‘Instructions for Use’

Apart from the “lucky few”, achieving lovely skin is hard work for most people. Although knowledge of products and ingredients is important, knowing your own skin is necessary! And that definitely also applies if you want to use exfoliating ingredients. These substances have ‘instructions for use’ and your skin really needs to get used to higher concentrations of Lactic Acid, Salicylic Acid and Glycolic Acid. If these type of ingredients aren’t used wisely, they can cause a lot of discomfort. Following on from my blogs about what an Exfoliant can do for skin and about the ingredients Salicylic Acid and Glycolic Acid, here are a few tips and tricks.

Instructions for use: build up gradually

Just as with Vitamin A Acid, my advice is to gradually build up the use of an Exfoliant. In this way you can keep an eye on how your skin reacts to this product. Is it going well? Then you can increase the use. Is your skin irritated? Then decrease the use. Almost everyone benefits from using an Exfoliant and almost everyone can, with a good ‘step-up programme’, get used to these products. Check every week to two weeks how your skin reacts, and build the use up if you don’t experience any irritation:

  • begin by using once in every three evenings
  • if this is going well then increase the use to every other evening
  • eventually: each evening
  • optional: mornings and evenings

Depending on your skin type, you can eventually use an Exfoliant daily. If your skin becomes irritated (if it gets irritated, flaky, tingling, becomes red, etc) then always go back a step.

The exception to the rule

If your skin is very sensitive or if you suffer from Rosacea I advise you not to use an Exfoliant or only use one which is based on Salicylic Acid, Lactic Acid, Lactobionic Acid or Gluconolactone. Glycolic Acid can be too harsh for this type of skin. People who are over sensitive to aspirin often cannot handle a Salicylic Acid-product, because the chemical structure of Salicylic Acid is very similar to aspirin.

Nothing new under the sun…

I have previously written that the sun plays a large part in skin ageing (you can see a photograph here of twins that shows this). Without protection your skin quickly ages. Keep in mind that when you use an exfoliant that the layer of dead skin cells reduces in thickness and the skin becomes more sensitive to sunlight. It is therefore essential to use a good sun factor (minimal SPF15) and best not to sit for too long in the full sunshine.


Since an Exfoliant, especially at the start of use, can irritate somewhat, it is important that you use a Toner or Moisturizer containing soothing ingredients alongside the product. A good example here would be liquorice root extract (Dipotassium Glycyrrhizate), Green tea, Bisabolol, Allantoin, Grape seed extract and Evodia Rutaecarpa.

Hope these ‘instructions’ were useful. Here’s to lovely (or even more lovely!) skin.

Regards Jetske

(Dr. Jetske Ultee-Research Physician Cosmetic Dermatology)

You can read more about the ingredients Vitamin A and
Glycolic Acid , Salicylic Acid and
the blog ‘A Healthy Complexion.

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