Many associate exfoliation with the harsh drugstore offerings that most of us used to scrub our faces raw during our younger years. And while we were most certainly doing more harm than good back then, exfoliation, when done correctly, can be the fast track to a good glow and flawless complexion. When you properly exfoliate, you’re removing dull, dried-out dead skin cells from your skin’s surface helping to unclog pores and smooth rough patches. Doing so regularly helps fade acne scars and dark spots, reduce redness, and minimize fine lines and wrinkles. It’s also one of the easiest ways to improve the effectiveness of your skincare products by allowing them to penetrate deeper into the skin.
While our skin naturally sheds skin cells, this process slows as we age – extending from a turnover rate of 14-21 days in our teens to upwards of 60-90 days in our 50s and 60s. Helping this process along allows us to continue to keep our youthful glow.
Types of Exfoliants
You’re probably already aware of the physical exfoliants that contain small particles or textured surfaces that scrub away dead skin. While the above harsh drugstore products are examples of physical exfoliants, there are much more gentler and worthwhile options available to keep skin smooth.
Another option is chemical exfoliants, which despite their namesake, are gentle. These acids are used to dissolve the glue that holds the dead cells to your skin. There are two types. AHAs or alpha hydroxy acids are water soluble and draw in hydration as they slosh away dead skin. These are best for normal, dry, and sensitive skin types. BHAs or beta hydroxy acids are oil soluble, which make them better for dealing with clogged pores and breakouts. These are best for acne-prone skin. Please note that BHAs are more intense than AHAs and can be irritating with overuse.
How to incorporate it into your routine
Exfoliants are made for everyday use and are best when used 3-4 times a week. If you have sensitive skin, start off with usage 1-2 times a week and work your way upwards as your skin acclimates. If using a chemical exfoliant, a serum is a great option. Incorporate into your routine after cleansing skin and wait about ten minutes before applying a moisturizer.
Remember that over-exfoliation strips away more than just dead skin cells and can leave skin’s protective barrier dried out and vulnerable to sun damage and pollutants. If skin becomes red or irritated, slow your usage or try a more gentle exfoliation technique. Once you find the right routine for you, you’ll enjoy a smoother, brighter complexion that glows.