Q & A with Cynthia from @skincv

Hi Cynthia,


We know you love all types of skincare from cleansers to masks to serums. There are a lot of choices out there when deciding skincare routines, we hear you. What we get a lot of questions about are the exfoliating methods that exist and what is best method for prepping the skin for the serums.

Credentials: Cynthia is a Skincare connoisseur and face mask addict. She has been building her blog and instagram for almost 2 years, but is a cosmetic industry veteran and expert with 10+ years of experience.

Elle: You must know we love the clay cleansers, but what is your favorite method of cleansing and removing makeup?

Cynthia: I am a firm believer in double cleansing your skin at night. Whether you wear makeup or not, you have a full day of pollution, dead skin cell, sebum and sunscreen cocktail laying on your skin. Sunscreen, which you should be wearing almost every day, is quite difficult to wash off as the latest technology involves better gripping abilities to sunscreens which makes them more resistant to washing.

A double cleanse is a system to thoroughly cleanse the skin without stripping its natural barrier which is perfect for reactive and sensitive skin. It requires a first step using a cleansing balm, massaged on dry skin, then adding a bit of water to loose up the balm and then rinsed off (I usually rinse it with a face cloth as some cleansing balms do not emulsify). Than the second step is to follow up with a non foaming cleansing milk, massaged again and rinsed off throughly. Doing so ensure that all impurities added up during the day went down the drain which will benefit your skin to evenly absorbs all the good ingredients from your skincare. In the morning, I usually go with the same non-foaming cleansing milk than my 2nd step at night or a micellar water if I am rushing out the door.

Elle: When you exfoliate do you use both physical and chemical exfoliants? How often?

Cynthia: I use both types of exfoliants for different purposes on different days. Physical exfoliant can be too abrasive so it is important to choose finely mild texture like your Volcanic Ash or Activated Charcoal Clays or a small microspheres, like jojoba ester in your Jojoba Exfoliate Clay. These ones buff the rough most superficial part of your skin to dislodge dead skin cells etc. 

Chemical exfoliants on the other hand are much more complicated as there are so many different kinds. To explain briefly, they come as AHA, BHA and PHA. PHA is quite a new formula on the market which I am not that familiar with. However, AHA and BHA have been around for a long time. Both act to “unglue” the bonds holding dull dead skin on the surface. Once those bonds are broken, skin naturally sheds the looser cells. As they act deeper into the skin, their effects can vary, from unclogging pores, to smoothing wrinkles, to dimishing higher pigmentation and even hydrating the skin.

As for my personal use, physical exfoliation is usually done 1 time per week. As for chemical exfoliant, I usually use BHA during my PMS to lessen the intensity of breakouts during my period and unclog pores, which is a couple of days of use in a row per month. I use a stronger AHA + BHA mask once every 2 weeks, especially in summertime when my skin tends to have more liquidy sebum and texture.

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Elle: Do you have a must-have ingredient in your choice of exfoliator?


Chemical = BHA : 2% Salicylic Acid followed in a formula by a soothing agent like green tea extract or adenosine.

Physical = Activated Charcoal mixed with Volcanic Ash.

Elle: What advice would you give to someone who is trying to determine the best exfoliating method to prep their skin?

Cynthia: Always do patch test before trying any new products, exfoliant or not, to avoid any bad surprise. For dry or very sensitive skin, I would suggest to go with your Jojoba Exfoliate as the jojoba particles are round and more gentle on the skin. For combo skin or oily skin, I would suggest your Volcanic Ash or Activated Charcoal either on the entire face, or on the oilier part of the skin if you are combo. Chemical exfoliants are more finicky than that, but to give a rough idea on where to start, AHA are more for dry textured skin and BHA to declog pores. To introduce them in your routine, always start with the lower percentage available and build up your tolerance to it (one day with, one day without etc). One last note.... Do not forget to wear SPF please, especially after exfoliating the night before as exfoliant exposes newer more sensible skin!

Cynthia is an advocate and invaluable resource for all things skin!

Follow Cynthia on ig @skincv


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