The Ins and Outs of Exfoliation

With America's recent ban on plastic microbeads in topical products, most people are taking a second look at what exactly goes into their exfoliating products. What you may not know is that exfoliating products come in all shapes, sizes and textures, and you may not be using the right one for your face.

Physical vs Chemical Exfoliation

Physical exfoliation is what most people are familiar with. Some form of scrub or cleanser containing an abrasive material like salt grains or shea beads (or those dreaded microbeads). Physical abrasion is great for your body. It's easy to use on rough areas like the soles of your feet, your knees and your elbows. For example, our Espresso Scrub uses the grit from coffee, brown sugar and Himalayan pink salt to polish away dead skin and bacteria, while other natural ingredients help to firm and moisturize your skin.

But this form of exfoliation is often too harsh on thinner areas of skin like on your face and neck. Rigid abrasives can cause microscopic tears in your skin, leading to infection, scarring, and breakouts. If you're going to use a physical abrasive on your face, try something like John Master's Organics Jojoba and Ginseng Exfoliating Face Cleanser, which uses gentle jojoba beads to remove dead skin cells. And unlike those plastic microbeads, natural abrasives are able to dissolve without polluting the environment.

Chemical exfoliation is often associated with intensive chemical peels and treatments administered by dermatologists. Therefore, it is not always considered when it comes to your daily routine. However, in low strength formulations, it can actually be a more mild alternative to physical exfoliation. Case and point: Our Enzyme Facial Cleanser is silky and smooth with no physical abrasion to irritate your skin. So how does it work? We use natural enzymes and alpha-hydroxy acids derived from fruits like papaya, bilberry and orange. These enzymes break down and loosen the dirt and dead skin from your face so that they can easily be washed away and down the drain. Generally speaking, these low-strength chemical exfoliants can be used just as often as their physical counterparts.

There are many factors which add up to frequency of how often you should be exfoliating your skin. Common sense dictates that you should always follow the directions on the specific product that you're you're using, but what happens when those instructions are up to interpretation?

1) Season

Depending on the season, and even weather, you'll have to adjust how frequently you exfoliate. Predictably, you should be exfoliating more frequently in a hot, humid climate as opposed to the cold, dry seasons when your skin is more dehydrated and brittle. 

2) Location

Take a minute to think about your surroundings. Someone in the smoggiest area of downtown LA will need a considerably greater amount of upkeep to deal with free radicals damaging their skin than someone in a more rural area of the world. Exfoliate accordingly.

3) Age

The older you get, the less frequently your skin cells are replacing themselves. When I was 12 and just starting to experiment with skin care, I could get away with exfoliating once a week. Now, in my 20's, it's escalated to once a day. By middle age, studies show that your skin's ability to regenerate its cells can decline by 50%. This makes exfoliation crucial to maintaining your skin, but do so with caution. Since mature skin is often more dehydrated and fragile, you have to be careful not to exfoliate too often. It's best to use gentle fruit acid based cleansers and firming peels, starting at once a week.

4) And the most type

People with dry skin are often conditioned to believe they should not exfoliate. And on the opposite end of the spectrum, I've witnessed people with oily skin vigorously exfoliating their faces multiple times a day, as if they were attempting to scrub their sebaceous glands away completely. The truth is, both are erred.

Dry / Sensitive Skin

If you're prone to dry, flaky, or irritable skin, it's best to shy away from overly abrasive exfoliators that can tear your fragile skin. Opt for a gentle alpha-hydroxy acid cleanser which will slough away the dead skin and bacteria without the abrasion. Another trick is to wash your face with a warm washcloth. Washcloths allow you to effortlessly buff your skin with maximum control. Just make sure to wash the cloths in between every use. Try something like Aquis Essentials Exfoliating Washcloth. Start by exfoliating once a week and work your way up from there until you find your comfort zone.

Oily / Acne Prone Skin

Oily and acne prone skin tends to be on the tougher side, which means you have more options. Its best to alternate between a physical and chemical exfoliant to see which one works for you. An exfoliating clay mask can also help balance the excess oil on your face, while simultaneously removing the bad stuff. Try something like the Marble & Milkweed's Cleansing Grains. Having oily/acne prone skin means you should be exfoliating in some shape or form at least 2-3 times per week.


Why You Should Be Using Facial Oils Daily

Facial oils have been increasing in popularity as more and more people are deciding to go back to basics with their skin care routine. But many people, namely those with oily or acne prone skin, remain wary. After all, we wash our faces to get rid of the oil, right?

Not necessarily. Consumers often gravitate towards facial washes and moisturizers labeled "oil free", because they think it will decrease the acne and oil on their face. In reality the exact opposite is happening when you use these cleansers. After washing, water and alcohol based products may make your face feel refreshed and stripped of any excess oil but below the surface your sebaceous glands are working overtime to try and replenish the oil you just washed off of your face. This rapid influx of oil production is a major trigger for acne breakouts and perpetual cystic acne. Oil based cleansers, on the other hand, are able to remove the dirt, bacteria and excess oil on your face without disturbing the delicate balance of oils within your skin. They are also able to dissolve even the toughest waterproof makeup without irritating or drying out your skin.

Jojoba oil is more of a liquid wax than an oil and is used as a main ingredient in our Solstice Cleansing Oil because its makeup mimics our skin's natural sebum. Other ingredients to look for in cleansing oils include Grapeseed Oil, Apricot Oil and Castor Oil because they are all lightweight oils, which absorb easily into the skin. They are also packed with omega 3, 6 and 9 fatty acids, which are essential to maintaining balanced, healthy skin.

As for moisturizers and serums, facial oils are able to soak into your skin without clogging your pores. Traditional water and alcohol based moisturizers are made to evaporate quickly. This ensures that your skin instantly feels as though it has soaked up the moisture but just ends up requiring you to reapply the product multiple times a day in order to remain moisturized. During this drying process, free radicals, dirt, bacteria and any product residue remain trapped on the surface of your skin. Facial oils are able to penetrate past the outer layer of skin without evaporating away, providing long lasting moisture. But how do your choose which facial oil is right for your skin type? Well, there are a number of contributing factors.

Those with oily and acne prone skin should look for a facial oil with a higher linoleic acid content. Linoleic Acid, which is an omega-6 fatty acid, is found to be lacking in people with oily and acne prone skin. In our Elysian Facial Oil we use Evening Primrose Oil and Grapeseed Oil, both of which contain a higher ratio of linoleic acids. We also use oils containing high concentrations of vitamin C and astringent oils, which constrict the skin cells to reduce inflammation, kill bacteria and create even toned skin.

Caution: Coconut oil is the new hot trend in natural skincare, and with good reason. It has excellent emollient and cleansing properties, but it can be problematic for those with acne prone skin. Coconut oil is made of capric triglycerides, also known as medium-chain triglycerides, which can be a huge trigger for acne breakouts. If you're sensitive to acne breakouts, it's usually a good idea to shy away from products containing coconut oil when it comes to your face.

Those with dry, mature or sensitive skin should look for a facial oil with a higher oleic acid content. Oleic acid, which is an omega-9 fatty acid, is found to be lacking in people with dry, flaky and eczema prone skin. In our Garden Facial Oil we use oils like Avocado and Apricot, which contain a higher ratio of oleic acids. We also use oils with a high concentration of vitamin A in the form of beta-Carotene and retinoic acid, which brighten and tighten tired, damaged skin.

Our facial oils can be used morning, noon and night. It is important to apply them to a clean face and allow 5 minutes for the oils to soak in before you apply makeup or anything else to your face. If you are using facial oils during the day, it is strongly recommended that you also apply a broad spectrum sun screen before going outside.

New Beginnings Animal Rescue

We're happy to announce that our new partner shelter is none other than the New Beginnings Animal Rescue in Royal Oak, Michigan!

Something I'm coming to realize is that each individual shelter has its own unique personality. New Beginnings really does put forth the extra effort to try and provide a home-like environment for their four-legged residents. Simple touches like pastel painted walls, cat shelves on every corner and the abundance of toys and trinkets destroy the stereotype of cold, cage-ridden shelters.

 When you're a cat, everything and everyone is a toy.

The feeling of comfort transcends through the volunteers, who come in to care for the animals on their own time, as well. Dressed in their own casual clothing and relaxed demeanors, New Beginnings appears to be a refuge for human beings as well. It's a place you could imagine going to after a long day at work or school, and enjoy playing with and caring for the animals. After all, who doesn't love some good old-fashioned pet therapy? Volunteering at New Beginnings would be a wonderful way to spend your days, especially if you're unable to adopt, and you can learn more about it here.


In a country where nearly half of all shelter pets are euthanized, no-kill shelters remain a beacon of hope for homeless animals in America. New Beginnings epitomizes this concept by not only being filled to the brim with loving animals, but loving foster humans as well. Their network of dedicated staff and volunteers spreads far beyond the brightly colored walls of the rescue and throughout southeast Michigan.

At only 12 weeks old, Pearl was the friendliest kitty and the first to greet us!

New Beginnings is connected to numerous foster families in Oakland County. And in this case, out of sight does not mean out of mind. Although they are temporarily residing in loving homes, these dogs and cats are just as desperately in need of more permanent ones. New Beginnings regularly hosts adoption events where you can meet all of these animals and you can find one near you here.

Times are tough and one of the main reason families are forced to give up their beloved pets is because they can no longer afford to feed them. NBAR is an exemplary rescue because it not only provides amazing care for the animals currently in their custody, but they are also fighting to keep families, who are struggling to properly feed their pets, together. The shelter provides a pet food pantry to families who have hit a rough patch and need a little extra help feeding their furry family members. But this pantry depends on monetary and food donations from the kind people who can afford to do so. Help us help this incredible shelter by purchasing any of our products, or making a direct contribution yourself!