When it comes to choosing the right Korean exfoliator, things can get a little bit overwhelming.
You need to consider a lot of things – including your skin type, the type of exfoliator you would prefer to use, how often you would want to use it, which ingredients to look for, and which ones to avoid.
This is especially difficult if you have some skin issues.
So, here is a mini-guide to help you choose your best Korean exfoliator.
Choosing Korean Chemical Exfoliator
Chemical exfoliator is based on acids, enzymes, or extracts which dissolve or, actually loosen the dead skin cells off your skin.
Chemical exfoliators include alpha-hydroxy acids (AHAs), beta-hydroxy acids (BHAs), and polyhydroxy acids (PHAs)1.
Alpha-hydroxy acids include glycolic acid, lactic acid (more gentle one), and citric acid, while salicylic acid belongs to the beta-hydroxy acid group.
From all acids, PHAs are considered to be the mildest ones and they provide gentle exfoliation that is suitable even for sensitive skin.
If you opt for chemical exfoliators (a serum, toner, or cleanser), it would be smart to study the ingredient, test the product, or simply trust a reliable brand.
Why this is so important? Well, you are actually relying on the product’s formula, as this is the way how chemical exfoliators work.
So, look what’s the concentration of exfoliating acids, and always look for the pH level of the product.
Generally, try to find a Korean chemical exfoliator based on AHAs with a pH level of less than 4 or a concentration of 4-10%.
When it comes to BHAs or salicylic acid, the optimal pH level should be lower than 3.5 or a concentration between 1 to 2%.
And, in the end, if your chemical exfoliator of choice is a mix of both acids, the optimal pH level is between 5 and 6.5.
I know this is a lot of information, but this will help you with the choice – and your skin will be thankful. Once you choose your product, you can relax.
Keep in mind, also, that you shouldn’t combine AHAs and BHAs with retinoids. Instead, alternate their use, to prevent excessive skin irritation.
PRO TIP: If your skin is prone to acne, or your skin is aging, these exfoliators are a great choice, as they clear pores, remove excess sebum and oils, and all other skin impurities, leaving your skin looking bright and soft.
Choosing Best Korean Physical Exfoliator
Unlike chemical exfoliation, physical exfoliators work by physically removing dead skin layers using particles, grit, or scrubs.
You massage it gently, in small circles onto your skin – and VOILA!
The exfoliator picks up all the dirt, leaving your skin clean. Plus, massage is great for blood circulation, too. Good blood flow to your skin means – more glow.
While physical exfoliators are not as gentle as chemical ones, you can still find some gentle forms of physical exfoliations. Those are, for example, peeling gels.
So, what to look for? Check if your product of choice can be used with some tool, like a face brush, facecloth, exfoliating mitt, or other aids.
These little aids may help you a lot, actually, to achieve better results.
However, if your skin is more sensitive, try gentler methods.
In all cases, make sure you use a good moisturizer after physical exfoliation, to remoisturize and rehydrate your skin.
PRO TIP: Use physical exfoliation not more than a few times a week, depending on your skin type. For dry or rosacea and eczema-prone skin, physical exfoliation should be avoided altogether. In “oilier” skin types, you can do physical exfoliation 3 times a week.
Exfoliator Guide – Choosing Best Korean Exfoliator For Your Skin Type
Depending on your skin type and concerns you should opt for different type of exfoliants, to achieve rejuvenated skin instead of skin irritation2.
In oily skin, sebum glands are overactive, producing – more sebum and natural oils. So, those of you with oily skin have one extra layer of oils, which blocks new skin cells from emerging. Therefore, a powerful exfoliator is a must.
What to look for?
Physical exfoliators work great on oily and acne-prone skin, as the physical particles pick up and remove excess oils and dead skin. So, this is always a good option.
Chemical exfoliators should contain a higher concentration of acids, and (if possible), with oil-free formula.
However, some oils are non-comedogenic – like jojoba oil. Therefore, you can use the product with jojoba oil.
As for acids, glycolic acid is one of the best chemical exfoliators for oily skin.
If you have acne, you probably know that salicylic acid is a “wished” ingredient, as salicylic acid is effective in healing acne, and soothing your skin. Plus, it removes blackheads from your skin.
Exfoliating the dry skin can be quite stressful. So, you need to take extra care. There are two keys to ensuring that the exfoliator is good for your dry skin: hydration and moisture.
What to look for?
So, you should choose cream or oil-based physical exfoliator with tini-tiny particles that won’t lead to flaky skin looks, but gently exfoliate your dead skin. Once you finish with it – MOISTURIZE!
As for the chemical exfoliator, choose either an exfoliator based on glycolic acid or lactic acid, which will also improve the protective oil barrier of your skin, besides hydrating it.
You can combine both types of exfoliators, but never on the same day.
If you have a combination skin, then you know how challenging it is to find the right skincare product, in general. You need to take “best of both worlds”, from products for dry and oily skin types.
What to look for?
The truth about exfoliating combination skin is: feel free to mix and match your products.
For example, use a powerful physical exfoliator in the T-zone, and a gentle, hydrating chemical exfoliator on other parts of your face.
Also, you can try exfoliators for both skin types until you find the one that suits you best.
If you have sensitive skin, you need to be very cautious with exfoliators, as these can cause irritation.
What to look for?
You should avoid physical exfoliators with large particles. In theory, you can try to find a gentle physical exfoliator, but, in order to play it safe, it would be better to avoid physical exfoliators altogether.
And in chemical exfoliators, poly-hydroxy acids (PHAs). Those acids are less irritating and more gentle to your skin, making them a good fit for sensitive skin3.
Among PHAs, the best ones are gluconolactone and lactobionic acid. These work the same as other hydroxy acids, but much gentler. Plus, they will hydrate your skin.
If you have some skin concerns, you should consult your dermatologist before buying an exfoliant.
Ingredients To Look For
- AHAs, BHAs, and PHAs
- Aloe vera
- Green tea
- Rice bran
- Multifruit acids and extracts
Ingredients To Avoid
- Sulfates (sometimes listed as SLS or SLES)
- Synthetic fragrances
- Mineral oils
How To Use Korean Exfoliators In The Right Way1. If you’re a beginner at exfoliating, start with 1-2 exfoliating sessions per week, until your skin adjusts.
- Generally, exfoliating up to 3 times a week is a maximum – so, you shouldn’t put exfoliation in your everyday routine4.
- Exfoliate less frequently during winter, or cold and dry weather to avoid drying out of your skin, and its flaking.
- During warmer and more humid days, you may exfoliate more often, as your pores are more likely to become clogged by your sweat, humidity, or pollutants.
- If your skin becomes irritated, stripped, or dried out, tone down with the frequency of exfoliation.
- Using a sunscreen helps you prevent skin damage, sunburns, and accelerated photoaging.
The purpose of this article is informative and entertaining. It’s not a substitute for medical consultation or medical care. The author of this article does not accept any responsibility for any liability, loss or risk, personal or otherwise, incurred as a consequence, directly or indirectly, from any information or advice contained here. Safety should be your priority.