Modern Exfoliation: 5 Must-Have Treatments

Written by Gul Zone

Picture scooping up a dollop of scratchy, abrasive scrub and rubbing it all over your skin. You may begin to feel some tingling and even some burning. Some clients think that by rubbing more aggressively, they can erase those pesky wrinkles, any unwanted hyperpigmentation, or even pesky acne and stubborn blackheads. Unfortunately, they are mistaken; however, there is a way to get the results that they are looking for.




Modern exfoliation is much more than an abrasive physical treatment. In fact, it goes beyond scratching the surface, instead addressing the causes of skin aging to produce more long-term results. Different exfoliation methods address different skin types and conditions. They can be used individually or together for a more comprehensive treatment. Each method reduces down time, prevents inflammation and irritation, and improves skin color, texture, firmness, hydration, and breakouts. Every skin type and age can incorporate exfoliation into their daily skin care routine and can expect noticeable results.




Exfoliation refers to a skin care treatment or combination of multiple treatment methods to remove dead cells from the epidermis, or upper tissue layer of skin. It accelerates the natural process of desquamation.

Skin grows from the inside out, layer by layer. Each layer is physiologically and chemically unique, and modern exfoliation targets each layer using novel formulary delivery systems. All exfoliation systems intercede in the skin’s natural processes by either kick starting or accelerating them. Here are five modern exfoliation methods used to maintain beautiful, healthy skin.




Using an exfoliating cleanser once a day is a very simple step that can benefit all skin types. Exfoliation should be increased to twice a day for hot, humid seasons or if skin is dry, breakout-prone, or sun-damaged.


Look for cleansers with glycolic acid for wrinkles, lactic acid for dryness, salicylic acid for oily-acne prone skin, azelaic acid for sensitive skin, and kojic or mandelic acid for hyperpigmentation. Make sure that these ingredients are listed higher in the ingredient listing with higher concentrations.




Add an enzyme scrub into the client’s skin routine one to three times per week. Rougher, oiler, acne-prone skin should use enzyme masks even more often. Enzyme masks also benefit aging skin and are ideal for sensitive skin, as they reduce inflammation. In fact, their greatest strengths are their gentleness and universality among all skin types.


Enzymes utilized in skin care are primarily focused on ingredients that digest the protein in skin, (keratin), present in high concentrations in the upper layer of the epidermis. Papain from papaya and bromelain from pineapple are two of the most common enzymes. Look for enzyme products that do not contain water, as this can inactivate the enzyme in its jar. Also, it should be noted that many enzyme products are formulated together with acids, which can make the exfoliation more aggressive. These treatments should be categorized as a chemical acid peel, rather than an enzyme treatment.




Aestheticians and medical professionals both perform professional-grade chemical peels. These peels typically contain high concentrations (30% to 50%) of strong acid. Strong acids are categorized by their low pH, a measurement of how willing an acid is to donate a hydrogen ion. An acid with a lower pH will be more likely to donate hydrogen ions to the peel solution, which then will be able to break the weak bonds between skin cells. This biochemical process translates physiologically as increased skin peeling. Peels are customized to the client’s skin type and skin care goals. They can be performed in a series of three to six treatments for corrective results or even monthly for maintenance. Peels are a must for all, since the benefits are both immediate and incredibly visible.


Homecare daily peels are recommended as a component of a client’s nighttime regimen. Homecare peels are formulated at lower concentrations and at a higher pH, but still lower than 4.5 (the pH of skin). These characteristics make them safe for daily use. Look for homecare peels that can be applied and left on and will give progressive results. Typically, start individuals on a product of 5% acid and work them up to a 15% nightly application, if non-sensitive skin.


The beauty of acid peel systems is that a professional can customize results by matching the peels with individual skin types, both maximizing results and minimizing downtime. Professionals can utilize over 15 different types of chemical acids to achieve these customized results.




Every skin care routine must involve daily vitamin A, no matter the form of delivery. Skin care professionals may recommend using a slow-releasing dose during the day and a more concentrated mega-dose at night.


Vitamin A is not chemically classified as an exfoliator, but rather as a vitamin or antioxidant, which stimulates skin renewal and turnover. This treatment works by stimulating the lower most layer of the skin, the basal layer, causing it to produce new skin cells and remove the old cells off the top layer. And, of course, it also provides antioxidant protection to hydrophilic and lipophilic skin cells, depending on which form of vitamin A is added to the skin care preparation.


Look for products that contain the following ingredients: retinyl palmitate, retinol, retinaldehyate, retinoate, and retinyl acetate. Make sure that the formulations are stable and remember, the more yellow the formula, the more concentrated the product. As with all corrective skin care, it is imperative to use the correct dose, type, and delivery of vitamin A in serums, moisturizers, masks, and exfoliators.




Vitamin C is both an acid and a vitamin cofactor used in the production of collagen. Collagen is a skin protein that keeps skin plump, firm, and wrinkle-free. Skin care professionals should recommend using Vitamin C as both an exfoliating peeling step and as a regenerating healing step. In other words, it can rejuvenate and repair skin simultaneously. Even more, vitamin C suppresses the formation of environment-induced, hormonal, or acneic hyperpigmentation and prevents the harmful effects of ultra violet rays.


Look for products that contain the following ingredients: ascorbic acid (purest form-acidic exfoliator), retinyl palmitate (c-ester and hydrating), magnesium or sodium ascorbyl phosphate (healing for sensitive skin), tetrahexylascorabate (lipophilic and moisturizing). Each form of Vitamin C should be utilized in various different formulations, from mega-dose delivery serums to time-release delivery moisturizers and healing leave-on masks.


Exfoliation is more than just skin resurfacing. Exfoliation benefits skin tremendously, targeting both internal and external components of the skin. Results include visibly glowing, hydrated, and wrinkle-free skin. Exfoliated skin is smooth and clear of imperfections such as breakouts, sunspots, redness, or blotchiness. Exfoliation also reduces pore size, while maintaining the firm and plump nature of skin. Why skip these five easy skin care steps with the promise of such noticeable results?


So, remember, move beyond that abrasive scrub, that irritating skin brush, or any products that make skin extremely red and sensitive. It is better to use a lower dose of corrective exfoliating skin care daily than to use a higher does once a week, since results do accumulate over time and regeneration occurs constantly. With customized professional treatments and an individualized five-step daily skin care routine, clients will continue to see the results of exfoliation as they age.


Gul Zone Lab Coat Face 2014As CEO and founder of Ecozone, Inc. and Dermaware Bio-Targeted Skin Care, Gül Zone has combined her biomedical-formulary background and cosmetic-marketing expertise to develop a line of skin and body products for aesthetic and medical practitioners. As a biochemist who has contributed to the development of several international skin care lines, Zone brings both the passion for her work and the knowledge of her formal education to her classes. Her expertise and her ability to present complex science in easy-to-follow terms allows seminar attendees to gain both practical and hands-on knowledge.

Login to post comments

More in Skin Care

Featured Company

  • LightStimLightStimDescription: Just like plants, our skin and other body tissues have the ability to absorb light and convert it into energy. While plants can safely absorb light from the sun, the sun emits harmful UV rays that can do more damage to our skin than good. LightStim use ...

Skin Care

Next-Level Learning

  • Southeastern EstheticsSoutheastern EstheticsDescription: Welcome to Southeastern Esthetics Institute, a premier esthetics training institute located in the heart of South Carolina. SEEI is more than just an esthetics training program, we are a one of a kind esthetics school that offers an intimate setting and ...