Exfoliating regularly can give your skin a great boost. However, not everyone has yet included an exfoliant in the beauty ritual. Wrongly. Especially for Forever39, the skin therapists at the Van Rosmalen Kliniek are therefore opening a book about the effects and results of this great unknown within the beauty range. Read their take on exfoliation here.

Why do you need to exfoliate?

With age, it is more difficult to remove dead skin cells. And an excess of dead skin cells makes our skin look dull. Pores also get clogged more easily because the sebum in your skin has nowhere to go. That in turn gives impurities, which you are probably not waiting for. Exfoliating smoothes the skin and restores its youthful appearance. But exfoliating does more than get rid of dead skin cells. It also stimulates collagen production and reduces pigmentation spots.

How does it work?

Exfoliation (aka peeling) is a technique based on acids. A peeling often contains granular components, organic acids and horn dust softening components. All this ensures that the keratinized skin cells loosen and dissolve. The result: radiant skin. You can have an exfoliation performed by a specialist, but there are also good (less high-dose) products for home available to do this yourself.

Professional peels

For percentages higher than 15%, you can go to the specialized clinics and salons. In the clinic we talk about chemical or cosmetic peels. We work with high concentrations of alpha hydroxy (AHA) and/or beta hydroxy acids (BHA), which remove the top layer of the skin.


Alpha hydroxy acids (AHA) are organic acids, such as glycolic and lactic acid, that stimulate the exfoliation of the skin and thereby speed up the cell cycle. Very suitable for dry skin.


Beta hydroxy acids (BHA) are organic acids, of which we only work with salicylic acid in peels. Salicylic acid, unlike lactic acid and glycolic acid, does not dissolve in water, but in fat. And is therefore suitable for oily and problem skin because it penetrates into the deeper layers of the skin.

PH value

The pH value (acidity) of an exfoliant is also important. If the pH is too high, the peeling loses its effectiveness. But if the pH is too low, the skin becomes irritated. The optimum pH is between three and four. The pH value of a peel determines the strength and depth of a chemical peel. This is related to the level of concentration and amount of layers of the peeling that are applied. The lower a pH value, so the more acidic, the deeper a peel can work. And that means that the chance of redness, peeling and irritation is greater.


Exfoliants work best in high concentrations. For example, glycolic acid is used in concentrations up to 70% and salicylic acid in concentrations up to 30% in peels. The concentration of the peeling must be built up slowly. Highly concentrated peelings are always performed by a cosmetic doctor or skin therapist. Tip: proper preparation of the skin for the peeling, for example with vitamin A, is half the battle. This not only ensures a good preparation for a chemical peeling, but also an even effect of the peeling, better penetration of the acids and a long retention of the treatment result.


The result of a chemical or cosmetic peeling is an even structure and fresh appearance of the skin. Pigmentation spots, scars, large pores and fine wrinkles are reduced or even disappear. The dermis becomes firmer due to the production of collagen.

After the treatment at a clinic or salon

Immediately after the treatment, the skin may show redness. This redness usually disappears within a few hours. Depending on the type of peeling, the skin may flake. This often starts after 3 days and can last for 7 days with intensive peels. This is not a bad thing, it means that the skin is going to renew itself.

An exfoliant can remove antioxidants from your skin, so it is important to use a product that has antioxidants added to it. After exfoliating, your skin is more sensitive to sunlight due to the removal of dead skin cells (the top layer of skin becomes thinner). Lubricate well with a product with a high spf such as the Mineral Radiance UV Defense from Skinceuticals, and it is also recommended to use an antioxidant such as the CE ferulic.

Peelings at home: train your skin yourself

And because beautiful skin starts at home… you can exfoliate at home too. It is 30% of the final result. And you also retain the results of treatments much longer. Home peels are a good preparation for all peels done in the clinic. For example, in preparation for a chemical peel so that the skin becomes more accessible, becomes more accustomed and there is less chance of a reaction. This can be done by using exfoliating products at home, on the advice of the skin therapist or doctor. The preparation at home is therefore a stand-alone treatment. For home use, we prefer a product with a maximum concentration of 15%. For example, we recommend the products of Dermaceutic, such as the Foamer15 or the Light Ceutic. The Foamer15 contains glycolic acid and enoloxone, which makes the skin soft. It also has an anti-inflammatory effect. The Foamer15 can be used in the evening as a preparation for an intensive peeling. Do you have sensitive skin? Then you can start with the milder version of the Foamer 15, the Foamer 5.

Commonly used exfoliants

Lactic acid

Lactic acid stimulates cell renewal and the production of hyaluronic acid in the deeper layers of the skin. Hyaluronic acid is a substance produced by the body (glucose) that maintains the moisture level in our skin and other tissues of the body. It can hold up to 1000 times its own weight in water! Wrinkles are often caused by a deficiency of hyaluronic acid. Lactic acid protects the pH value (acidity), it makes the skin soft and resilient. That is why we prefer to treat dry, sensitive and aging skin in the clinic with a lactic acid peeling. The lactic acid peeling is also effective in treating pigmentation spots.

glycolic acid

Glycolic acid is the most well-known of the alpha hydroxy acids (AHA). Glycolic acid provides hydration by stimulating cell renewal. It is water soluble and suitable for older or dry skin. Because this peeling can cause irritated skin, especially in the beginning, a gradual build-up is important. It comes from sugar cane and has the smallest molecular structure of all acids. Therefore, glycolic acid can penetrate deep into the skin. As an exfoliant, it only works at a concentration higher than 5%. At a concentration higher than 10%, glycolic acid can even reach the dermis and stimulate the production of elastin and collagen, which provide firmness and resilience.

Salicylic acid

Salicylic acid is a so-called beta hydroxy acid (BHA). It is the only acid-fat soluble, penetrates deeper into the pores and has an anti-inflammatory effect. Peels with salicylic acid are suitable for oily skin with comedones and pimples. This peeling irritates less than glycolic acid and is therefore also suitable for sensitive skin. Because salicylic acid is fat soluble, it ends up in the pores and sebaceous glands. It is able to adhere well to sebum, dissolve sebum plugs and control the sebaceous glands. That is why salicylic acid is very suitable for treating acne. Due to the large molecular structure, salicylic acid cannot penetrate very deeply into the skin. This peeling is therefore not effective in treating residual acne. A salicylic acid peel is suitable for light and dark skin types.

TCA peel

Trichloroacetic acid is composed of acetic acid and chlorine. The acid goes deeper than the other acids. The concentration can vary from 7-50%; the peeling can work superficially and deeply into the skin. Because TCA can reach the dermis, TCA peels are ideal for treating deeper skin damage. It is very suitable for skin aging, wrinkles, pigmentation spots and residual acne. Unlike the above peels, TCA does not have an emollient effect on the skin cells, but solidifies the proteins of the skin and dissolves the skin cells.

Enzyme Peeling

The enzyme peeling is a mild peeling and an excellent preparation for the cosmetic peeling. It makes the skin softer and less dull. You can use it at home twice a week. The enzyme peeling removes dead cells from the top layer of skin and ensures smooth skin.

The enzyme peeling (for example based on the enzyme of a papaya) works on the top layer of the skin and causes depigmentation, increases the skin’s permeability and removes dead skin cells. The protein-splitting enzymes provide a thinner stratum corneum. The enzyme peeling is a superficial peeling and therefore gives less results than a chemical peeling that works deeper on the skin. Because it is a mild peeling, there are hardly any side effects. Sometimes the skin feels a bit burning and tight.


Do you want to make your skin shine again and are you curious which form of exfoliation is suitable for your skin? Preferably make an appointment at a clinic with the NVCG quality mark. Then you can be sure that the doctors are KNMG certified and that your skin is in good hands. At the Van Rosmalenkliniek, the first consultation is always without obligation. We also believe in the combination treatment for the best results. You can combine a mild peeling for better skin quality with an intensive peeling to reduce pigmentation spots, fine wrinkles or acne. And for optimal results, combine cosmetic peels with botox, fillers, microneedling, radiofrequency microneedling or laser treatments.

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