If you like glowing, healthy, youthful looking skin, chances are you need regular exfoliation. While your skin naturally exfoliates or sheds its outer layer every three weeks or so, the process starts to slow down after age 30. All ages and skin types can benefit from exfoliation, but you must exfoliate in a healthy way.
You can exfoliate via two methods: physical or chemical. Physical exfoliation involves applying something rough, such as a washcloth, exfoliating brush, crystals or beads to your skin to manually remove dead skin cells. Chemical exfoliation means using products that contain acids, such as alpha hydroxy, glycolic or salicylic acids that eat away at dead skin cells without physically scrubbing your skin. How often and what you use to exfoliate depends on your skin type. Sensitive skin can’t take harsh scrubs while oily skin can handle more frequent exfoliation methods.
Those with sensitive skin that easily gets red and/or irritated can handle exfoliation no more than three times per week. Think gentle exfoliating products, such as a soft washcloth or a glycolic-acid containing mask.
Normal skin can handle most exfoliation methods – from scrubs to exfoliating brushes to products with alpha hydroxy or salicylic acids. The key for those with normal skin is to refrain from exfoliating too often. Using a scrub two to three times a week and using a once-weekly mask can help your skin look its best.
The benefit to exfoliating oilier skin types, including those prone to acne breakouts, is they can handle most exfoliation methods. However, you should not exfoliate oily skin too often. This is because excess exfoliation can actually cause you to overproduce skin oil, leading to more breakouts instead of improved skin.
General Exfoliation Rules
Exfoliating after cleansing your skin, particularly in the shower, is the best time. This is because the shower’s warm water opens up your pores, which helps to achieve improved exfoliation benefits. If you do opt for manual exfoliation, do not scrub too vigorously at your skin — gentle, circular motions are enough to help keep your skin free of dead skin cell buildup. If your skin appears chapped, dry or excessively red, your exfoliating product may be too harsh for your skin.
While you can exfoliate any time of day and reap skin benefits, exfoliating at night and applying a moisturizer helps the product penetrate more deeply. After a good night’s sleep, your skin will appear smooth and refreshed.