Exfoliation Addendum

Things I shoulda said

In response to some questions and because I forgot a few things, here we go right quick:

  • With vanishingly few exceptions, you should not put exfoliating products around your eyes (and never on your lips) no matter how mild they are. The rule around the eyes is to put the product no closer than the orbital bone. This is very important. Please follow this rule.

  • Yes, you can use both AHA and BHA products in your routine, but it’s usually best to not use them at the same time. (Obviously if you’re using a combo AHA/BHA product, that’s fine.) Some people CAN use both at the same time at full strength - if you can, yay for you! - but for many people, that can over-dry the skin or lead to irritation. If you use both daily, use the BHA in the morning and the AHA at night (or vice versa - it doesn’t matter which as long as you properly wear sunscreen.) If you use both every other day, then do like: BHA Mon-Wed-Fri and AHA Tues-Thurs-Sat. Make sense?

  • You don’t have to use both AHA and BHA. You can use one or the other, or neither. Your skin dictates it, and it can change over time in terms of what it needs.

  • Most people with very young skin don’t need AHA - or at least don’t need it regularly, because the younger your skin is, the better it is at turning over the skin cells nice and quick.

  • If you don’t have enlarged/clogged pores or oily skin - and if your skin type is dry - then BHA is not likely to be a miracle product for you.

  • If you’re using retinoids, it’s likely you don’t need AHA so much/so often, and you have to be careful of how you fit both into your routine together.

  • BHA and benzoyl peroxide are both great for pimple problems, but very different. BHA removes dead skin cells and sebum from the pores; benzoyl peroxide kills acne-causing bacteria. You can use both if you have real true acne - as in diagnosed, because it’s considered a disease and not one that’s seen in most adults, tbh. But for skin that just produces a lot of sebum and deals with normal congestion, BHA is what you want for pore maintenance. Benzoyl peroxide is harsh and can be very drying - it’s the big guns, as they say, and you should only use it if you have to.

Also, I can do a separate newsletter on at-home peels, if you like, but it is rather advanced and it’s way better to get your routine in order first, and to get used to acids in general before haring off on that adventure. HOWEVER, I cannot deny that higher strength AHA is just more convenient AND often more cost-effective for most of us. Spending $20 on a tube of something you have to use 5 days a week is perfectly fine, but spending the same on a 15 minute treatment once every week or two works better for my life/brain. If you think it would work better for you too, then I again recommend The Ordinary’s peel. Read that whole product page and follow the directions on how to use it.

In conclusion: if you are new to this newsletter, please know that this newsletter is new, too! We’re going over the basic building blocks of a skincare routine first, so read back through the archives if you’d like to be up to speed. If nothing else, please read this introductory post to get your bearings.

Okay, that really should be all now.