When it comes to your skin care routine, exfoliating may not be your most important step. Moisturizing is at the top of most lists (as it should be) and even sunscreen gets more love. Many of us don’t know how to exfoliate correctly or how to choose the right exfoliator for our skin type. More often than not, we purchase a name brand product (St. Ives, anyone?) and apply it to our skin daily. There is a right way and a wrong way to exfoliate, and that’s the wrong way. Here’s the right way:
Exfoliation is the process of removing dead skin cells which, if done incorrectly, can lead to excessive dryness, broken blood vessels and redness. When done properly, it leads to healthy, glowing skin. The best method is to apply the product in gentle, circular motions. It doesn’t matter what size exfoliate granules you use, the key is to apply gently. How frequently you exfoliate depends on the type of exfoliate you use and your skin type.
Choose an Exfoliator for Your Skin Type
Your first step is to choose an exfoliator for your skin type. There is a variety of exfoliating products on the market, which can make this process overwhelming. Do you choose a scrub, sponge or hand-held device? It all depends on the needs of your skin.
Our body naturally exfoliates by shedding dead skin cells, but this renewal process slows down as we age. Needless to say, mature skin can benefit from exfoliation especially for your anti-aging product to work. But it’s important to remember that our skin thins and becomes more vulnerable as we get older. For mature skin, you can use scrubs or chemical exfoliates. If you choose scrubs, always pick the products with tiny particles. Avoid brushes and sponges as it will be too abrasive for your skin.
People with combination skin will benefit most from peel pads with glycolic, salicylic or beta hydroxyl acid. The acid component performs the dual action of removing dry skin (without abrasion) and treating oily skin. If you can’t find peeling pads with these ingredients, you can purchase a gel or a water-like liquid.
Exfoliating for oily skin is a good way to remove dead skin-cell build up and lessen clogged pores. The best product to use is one that has salicylic acid to properly penetrate oily pores and prevent breakouts. You could also use a scrub with fine grans, but scrubs make it possible to over-exfoliate the skin.
You should avoid exfoliators with beads or grains, as this will aggravate your dry skin. Dermatologists recommend using a chemical exfoliate which removes dead skin cells without excessive scrubbing. Chemical exfoliates also increase the skin cell turnover rate, which prevents dry patches from occurring. People with dry skin can also benefit from a cream exfoliate which offers a generous dose of moisture. You should notice the results of a cream-based exfoliates almost instantly.
For normal skin types, you have the fortune of using any exfoliator. Remember not to over-exfoliate and disrupt the perfect balance.