I once thought exfoliating was a pretty useless skincare step, and I felt I had better things to do with my time, like playing Duck Hunt, reading cheesy V.C. Andrews books and watching The Craft for the millionth time.
That changed around the time I hit 30. My skin started to change, started looking duller and less dewy.
Turns out that as we age the body takes progressively longer to “turn over” new skin cells, the process of pushing new cells to the surface of the skin to replace dead ones.
FUN FACT: When we’re born, a complete cell turnover takes about two weeks; by age 50, the same process takes four to six.
The longer dead skin cells hang around on the surface of the face, the greater the likelihood of clogged pores, acne and a dull, lackluster complexion.
Exfoliation to the rescue!
Exfoliation, whether physical (like with a facial scrub) or chemical (like with a toner containing salicylic acid), brightens dull skin by sloughing away dead skin cells and increasing the rate of cell turnover.
It can also help to clear breakouts, smooth out the skin and enhance the efficacy of anti-aging treatments and moisturizers by increasing their rate of absorption.
I definitely notice a difference in my skin now when I go too long without exfoliating. It looks older, as in less rosy and glowy.
How often should you exfoliate?
Many beauty experts and dermatologists are divided on how much exfoliating one should do. Some doctors recommend exfoliating just once or twice a week; others say twice a day.
I try to follow the laws of moderation and common sense. When my skin’s exceptionally dull and behaving badly, I’ll ramp up my regular routine, exfoliating three or four times a week; when it’s more sensitive, on the other hand, once or twice/week seems to do the trick.
It may take time and trial and error to find the right frequency for you.
A few recommendations
Shopping around for a new exfoliator? Here are three that help me keep my combination dry/acne prone skin from doing the funky chicken:
- Clinique Mild Clarifying Lotion ($12): This old standby is a salicylic acid toner that helps keep my combination oily/dry skin clear without stripping it dry. Great for dry skin!
- Dermalogica Multi-Vitamin Thermafoliant ($48): It’s a splurge, but this exfoliator packs a one-two punch, by sloughing off dead skin cells with dense, fine grains (they warm up when rubbed against skin) and salicylic acid.
- Soap and Glory Greatest Scrub of All ($13): A gentle and affordable drugstore scrub with salicylic acid that should work well on a wide range skin types, from dry to sensitive to oily.
What’s your favorite exfoliator?
We can help each other out by sharing our favorites in the comments. Describe your skin type (dry, oily, combo, sensitive, etc.) along with the name of one or more of your top exfoliating products and/or techniques. I can’t wait to see your suggestions! 🙂
Your friendly neighborhood beauty addict,