Dual Action Scrub, Exfoliating Polish, ZO® towel

The Importance of Exfoliation

Falling temperatures and indoor heating will begin to exacerbate dry skin for a number of patients—you may notice patches of flaky skin and an overall dull complexion. An increase of hydration may be required, but you may also be lacking regular exfoliation in your daily routine.

No matter the season, exfoliation is an important step to maintaining healthy skin barrier function.  Here’s a short ZO® guide to exfoliation—physical and chemical, and how it contributes to a healthy, glowing complexion.


What is exfoliation?

Exfoliation is already a natural part of your skin’s renewal cycle. Dead surface cells are constantly shedding away to reveal the new skin underneath, but as skin ages or becomes compromised, natural functions begin to slow down. Without exfoliation, dead skin cells, dirt and other impurities can make the skin look dull, emphasize the appearance fine lines and wrinkles, congest pores, and even cause acne breakouts.

Adding on a chemical or physical exfoliant, or even both, will help keep your skin clear, glowing and functioning properly.

Without exfoliation, dead skin cells, dirt and other impurities can make the skin look dull, emphasize the appearance fine lines and wrinkles, and even cause acne breakouts.

Physical vs Chemical Exfoliation

There are three different types of exfoliants available today: physical, chemical, or a hybrid of both.

Physical, or mechanical, exfoliators usually contain small, naturally derived particles like jojoba beads, silica, or sugar that need to be gently massaged into the skin to physically buff away dead skin cells. The act of regularly using physical exfoliators also has the added benefit of increasing blood circulation to wake up the skin and continue improving skin functions.

When choosing a mechanical exfoliator, make sure to avoid harsh particles that can cause micro tears in your skin. ZO’s Exfoliating Polish is suitable for all skin types with ultra-fine magnesium-oxide crystals that gently buff away dead skin cells without being abrasive.

Chemical exfoliants usually contain alpha-hydroxy acid (AHAs), beta-hydroxy acids (BHAs), like lactic, salicylic and glycolic acids, or fruit enzymes. These ingredients are beneficial for most skin types and are a gentler alternative to physical exfoliants, which can sometimes be too rough for those with extra sensitive skin. Instead of relying on a mechanical motion, chemical exfoliators dissolve, or eat away, at the “glue” that binds dead skin cells to allow them to slough off the skin.

At ZO® you can find chemical exfoliation in the way of Exfoliation Accelerator, which contains a glycolic and lactic acid blend.

Oilier, or acne-prone skin types can also include Dual Action Scrub into their daily Getting Skin Ready®; routine. As its name suggest, Dual Action Scrub provides dual physical and chemical exfoliation with jojoba beads and salicylic acid. Follow it up with Complexion Renewal Pads or Oil Control Pads to further encourage exfoliation with salicylic acid, which is also a proven acne-treatment that targets congested skin.

When to exfoliate?

If you’re greatly concerned about acne-prone skin or hyperpigmentation, use gentle, chemical exfoliants daily, or as often as your skin can tolerate them. Over time these ingredients will help slough away surface oil and pigment-filled dead skin cells that can be dulling your skin’s complexion or triggering breakouts.

Mechanical exfoliants can be used at least two to three times a week to regularly buff away dead skin cells. They’re especially helpful when using ingredients such as retinol that increase cellular turnover to improve the skin’s tone.

For example, you may notice some dryness and flaking when incorporating a high-potency retinol like Retinol Skin Brightener 1% into your daily routine. Using Exfoliating Polish two to three times a week can gently sweep away flaking skin to keep your complexion looking bright and smooth in tone. This has the added benefit of allowing your other topical products to penetrate your skin more effectively to deliver hydration or other skin soothing ingredients.

This retinol-based solution is clinically proven to rapidly improve the appearance of uneven skin tone for a brighter, clearer and smoother complexion. Anticipated reactions, such as redness, flaking, dryness or tightness, are completely normal and signs that the product is working

Retinol Skin Brightener 1% - 50 mL / 1.7 Fl. Oz.

Overall, exfoliation is a great way to support skin renewal and achieve that glowing complexion that we see on social media, but without unnecessary filters. Don’t let the thought of over-exfoliation or “ruining” your skin with exfoliants scare you—it’s hard to do that with such gentle options available. A physician or skincare specialist is always a great source in finding the right products for your skin and lifestyle.

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Exfoliating Polish

 Best-selling exfoliator for all skin types


Exfoliation Accelerator

Glycolic and lactic acid complex designed to

exfoliate + brighten skin


Dual Action Scrub

For oily, acne and redness-prone skin


Complexion Renewal Pads

For all skin types


Retinol Skin Brightener 1%

1% retinol clinically proven to improve visible discoloration