How To

How To Choose The Best Exfoliator for Your Skin

Best Exfoliator for Your Skin

Most of us think the best exfoliator for your skin is the use of granular scrubs, brushes, or even wash cloths when we hear the words skin exfoliation. However, the best way to exfoliate skin is to think ingredients.

When exfoliating skin, my recommendation to all my patients is to completely avoid granular scrubs, brushes, course washcloths or hard scrubbing of the face, neck and chest areas.

All we achieve by using these is damage and break down of the natural skin barrier, impairment of the natural function of the outer skin mantle and we can upset the normal pH balance of the skin. All of this results in an inflamed unhappy skin that leads to excessive oil or sebum production, sensitive skin, dull, dry, or flaky skin; clogged, enlarged pores, blackheads, white bumps or Milia, wrinkles, and/or breakouts such as acne lesions.

So, the best exfoliator for  your skin is to choose ingredients that gently remove the dead outer layer of skin, clean out impurities and improve the overall health of the skin barrier without affecting the natural pH balance or outer skin mantle.

The Importance of Correct Exfoliation:

  1. Remove the build-up of dead skin cells
  2. Unblock pores
  3. Reduce breakouts
  4. Smooth wrinkles
  5. Increase skin glow

There are numerous ways we can achieve a healthy
and natural exfoliation of the skin:

  1. Cleansers
  2. Masks
  3. Topical products


For the best exfoliator for your skin, choose cleansers that contain:

  1. AHA (alpha hydroxy acid such as glycolic and lactic acids)
  2. BHA (beta hydroxy acid or salicylic acid)

Each exfoliant has its own unique indication and specific skin condition and skin concern uses.:

AHAs are indicated for:

  1. Sun or UV damaged skin
  2. Non-oily or non-acne prone skin

BHAs are indicated for:

  1. Oily and acne prone skin
  2. Skin with enlarged or visible pores
  3. Those who that suffer with sensitised skin or rosacea skin conditions

Dr Alek’s Cleanser Recommendations:


Face masks are a terrific way to not only exfoliate the skin but to also achieve glowing healthy skin. Masks tend to cover the skin, helping the active ingredients penetrate and depending on the type of mask, it can draw impurities from the skin and eliminate dead cells, hydrate and plump the skin, or even tighten and tone the skin.

There are numerous benefits to using masks:

Refines skin pores:

Face mask tend to cleaner deeper in pores full of sebum or oil.

Increases hydration:

As masks are kept on for a good 10 to 20 minutes moisturising ingredients are forced into the skin allowing for an increased hydration and a plumping of the skin.

Diminishes fine lines:

Regular use of face masks can reduce fine lines, wrinkles, and you will get the added benefit of a softer and smoother skin texture.

Firmer skin:

Some face masks increase collagen production and fight off free radical damage which will with repeated use result in firmer, tighter, fresher looking skin.

Dr Alek’s Mask Recommendations:

Topical Products:

Skincare products that contain alphahydroxy acids (such as glycolic acid) or beta hydroxy acids (salicylic acid) will exfoliate the skin with every application.

Benefits of Glycolic Acid:

  1. Exfoliates skin safely.
  2. Increases skin hydration by stimulating GAG’s and hyaluronic acid production. It also acts as a water-binding agent.
  3. Stimulation of collagen and elastin production that helps renew skin’s surface, visibly softening the signs of aging, particularly from sun damage.

Benefits of Salicylic Acid:

  1. Exfoliant that helps shed dead skin.
  2. Exfoliates inside the pore reducing sebum and oil production which helps with breakouts, acne lesions and even blackheads and whiteheads.
  3. Soothing properties to calm sensitive skin.
  4. Minimises the appearance of an uneven skin tone.
  5. Hydrating abilities that results in plumper skin.

Dr Alek’s Product Recommendations:

The important thing to understand is that exfoliating with an AHA or BHA does not negatively affect the more superficial skin or the deeper layers of the skin, in fact the opposite is true. AHA and BHA ingredients do not penetrate further than the most outer layer of the skin or further than the depth of a pore. Furthermore, AHA and BHA exfoliants do not thin the skin even with regular twice daily use.

If you still find yourself a bit confused about which is the best exfoliator for your skin of difficulty understanding what to choose (AHA versus BHA) then please contact our SkinMiles Customer Care Experts for a personalized telephonic skincare consultation or take our Face2Face Skin Assessment with personal recommendations from Dr Alek Nikolic.

Kind regards

Dr Alek Nikolic

About Dr Alek Nikolic

Dr Alek Nikolic was born in South Africa and received his MBBCh (Wits) in 1992 and in 2000 he received his MBA (UCT). He has been in private practice for 24 years and is the owner of Aesthetic Facial Enhancement, which has offices in Cape Town. Dr Nikolic specialises in aesthetic medicine and is at the forefront of the latest developments in his field. He is very driven and has lectured extensively and has performed live demonstrations throughout South Africa and Internationally including Bangkok, Rome, Paris, Monte Carlo, Prague, and Warsaw. Dr Nikolic’s focus is on skin care, skin ingredients and cosmetic dermatology treatments such as lasers, chemical peels, Botox, and Dermal Fillers. He has performed over 20 000 procedures to date and as such is responsible for training numerous medical practitioners both in South Africa and internationally. Dr Nikolic is one of the founding members of the South African Allergan Medical Aesthetic Academy and chaired its inaugural launch in 2012. The Allergan Academy provides essential training to keep up with the latest technology in aesthetics. Dr Nikolic holds the advisory position of Allergan Local Country Mentor in Facial Aesthetics and is the Allergan Advanced Botox and Dermal Filler Trainer. He is Vice President of the Aesthetic and Anti-Aging Medicine Society of South Africa (AAMSSA) and is an Associate Member of the American Society of Laser Medicine and Surgery (ASLMS).

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