Some of us think we’re too sensitive for a scrub. And if you’re acne-prone, a peel just seems insane. But exfoliating your face can benefit every skin type.
‘In addition to revealing fresh skin cells, exfoliating removes dead cells from pores, making them appear smaller,’ says Rachel Nazarian, MD, a dermatologist in New York. Makeup also looks better, says Stalina Glot, an aesthetician at Haven Spa in New York. ‘It’s like sanding a wall before you paint.’ The other major perk: ‘Removing the buildup enhances your skin’s ability to absorb everything else, from acne medicine to anti-ageing serum,’ says Nazarian.
Find the routine that’s right for your type and get glowing.
1. My skin’s dry. Will exfoliating strip it?
Not necessarily. In fact, flakes can inhibit the full penetration of moisturiser. Plus, oil can get trapped and cause tiny, pimple-like bumps, says Glot. Your best bet: gentle chemical exfoliators (an AHA-rich serum dissolves bonds between dead cells) or a light facial scrub like The Body Shop’s Tea Tree Oil Blackhead Exfoliating Wash (R75), which uses super-fine particles and vitamin B5, a total moisture bomb). Try one, immediately followed by a gentle hydrating lotion, every two or three days.
Weekly Treatment: Transform skin from dull to dewy with Kiehl’s Turmeric & Cranberry Seed Energizing Radiance Masque (R465) – it exfoliates with crushed cranberry seeds while turmeric extract leaves skin brighter and glowier.
2. But I’m oily and acne-prone! Will I break out?
Stay away from rough physical scrubs, which can contribute to breakouts. Chemical versions, such as a face wash made with hydroxy acids like glycolic or salicylic acid (Dermalogica’s Clear Start Breakout Clearing Foaming Wash (R270) contains salicylic acid), remove grime and penetrate oil to break down pore-clogging dead skin cells.
Weekly Treatment: Charcoal masks absorb excess oil, says Dendy Engelman, a New York dermatology surgeon. Clay also does the trick: Try Bobbi Brown’s Instant Detox Mask (R800 at Red Square).
3. I’m way too sensitive … right?
Gritty scrubs are definitely off limits, but most people can benefit from a mild, short-contact exfoliating product. Consider a cleanser or toner rich in fruit or plant enzymes, twice a week, to deep clean gently. Lancôme’s Pur Rituel Tonique Douceur Toner (R399 at Red Square) refines skin without stripping natural oils.
Weekly Treatment: Use a cool, wet cloth in circular motions to loosen and sweep away dead skin cells.
4. What should I do for my normal skin?
Normal usually means combo – an oily T-zone and dry cheeks – which can benefit from the Goldilocks of exfoliators: baking soda. ‘Add a teaspoon of the powder to your facial cleanser, mix well and massage into skin like you would with a commercial exfoliant’ (Health.howstuffworks.com). Do this two or three times a week.
Weekly Treatment: Home peels are an option for your problem-free skin. Nazarian recommends starting with a glycolic-acid concentration below 10%, like Nip+Fab’s Glycolic Fix Exfoliating Facial Pads (R186 at Clicks), and slowly working your way up to stronger products.
Related: How to Not Wash Your Face
5. Should I exfoliate in the morning or night?
Either is fine, but if you use treatments at night like retinol, you may want to exfoliate before bed, as your skin will be more receptive once dead surface cells have been removed.
6. What if I have a bad reaction?
Use a 1% hydrocortisone cream on the area to reduce inflammation, says Heidi Waldorf, a New York dermatologist. And switch to a gentle cleanser and moisturiser, like those from CeraVe or Cetaphil, until skin calms down.
7. Can’t I just use my body scrub?
No. Body scrubs often have harsher, larger granules, made to even out the thicker, tougher skin below the neck.
8. Should I avoid my eye area?
Some exfoliators are specifically made for the delicate eye tissue. Always check the label, and never use a scrub.
9. Are microbeads bad for the planet?
The plastic pellets often found in scrubs go down the drain and can eventually pollute rivers, lakes, and oceans. In December, President Obama signed a bill into law that bans the manufacture of cosmetic products containing microbeads as of July 2017. Many major companies, such as Unilever, Procter and Gamble, Johnson and Johnson, and L’Oréal, have already eliminated or are in the process of phasing out the beads, opting for biodegradable, natural alternatives, such as rice, wax and bamboo extracts.
10. Can I get a derm-grade peel at home?
The pros often use super-potent formulas, which require medical supervision. A close alternative: using a peel pad system (try Radical Skincare Age Defying Exfoliating Pads (R450 at Red Square)). The cumulative effects can create a surface similar to a low-grade medical peel over time.
This article was originally published on cosmopolitan.com.
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