You know the importance of washing your face, but you may still neglect an equally vital skin revitalization habit: exfoliation. No amount of cleansing, moisturizing, toning, or applying sunscreen can remove the dead skin cells that sit on your skin.
Luckily, exfoliation can be done in a variety of ways with a variety of products. There are two main types of exfoliation: chemical and physical.
- Physical exfoliation uses small particles, such as salt or microbeads, to cause tiny tears in your skin that eliminate topical dead skin cells. This is great for those dealing with flaky, dry skin, but it can be too harsh for those with sensitive skin.
- Chemical exfoliation uses certain ingredients, like alpha and beta hydroxy acids, that slough away dead skin cells without causing physical abrasions.
You’ll want to choose an exfoliant that’s best for your skin type, but don’t overdo it. Over-exfoliation can expose skin, weaken skin-barrier function, and, in some cases, trigger inflammation. Below, you’ll find the ideal exfoliation technique for your skin type.
If your skin is prone to breakouts and blemishes, look for exfoliating cleansers that contain acne-fighting ingredients like salicylic acid, which helps destroy acne-causing bacteria while gently scrubbing your skin’s surface to reveal brighter, more youthful skin cells underneath.
While blackheads are a type of breakout, they require a different level of exfoliation than other types of acne. Essentially, what you’re dealing with if you have a lot of blackheads is clogged pores. You need an exfoliating cleanser that will gently remove the dirt and oil trapped in your pores along with the dead cells sitting atop your skin’s surface. Reach for a cleanser containing alpha hydroxy acids (salicylic, lactic, and glycolic acids), along with a gentle exfoliant, like jojoba beads, that will soothe blackhead-prone skin.
Products with salicylic acid and glycolic acid can also work for skin that’s hyperpigmented or has red or dark marks, often the remnants of acne that has long-since healed. Exfoliating can help fade these pesky scars and soften their textural appearance. Vitamin C and hydroquinone can also help hyperpigmented skin to soften and fade darkened areas, including age spots, acne scars, freckles, and symptoms of melasma, a condition that many pregnant women experience that involves gray-brown patches of skin on their face, according to the American Academy of Dermatology.
Those dealing with dry skin know how difficult it is to find skin-care products that won’t cause irritation or further suck the moisture out of their skin. Many people are afraid to exfoliate for fear of drying out their skin even more, but, in fact, when done the right way with the right products, it often helps the situation. First, those with dry skin should limit their exfoliation to once weekly, instead of the recommended two to three times weekly. A gentle, chemical exfoliant containing alpha or beta hydroxy acids can clear away the dead skin cells without being too rough.
Those most concerned about fine lines and wrinkles certainly shouldn’t miss out on a skin revitalizing habit like exfoliating, as this is key to more youthful-looking skin. Use an exfoliant that targets the deep layers of the skin to rejuvenate the skin cells underneath. Look for products that contain retinol or retinoic acid, a vitamin-A derivative that naturally encourages cell turnover, increases collagen production, fades discoloration from sun damage, and helps build elastin.
With continued use, you can see an improvement in fine lines and wrinkles, tone, and texture. Retinol is found in both prescription and over-the-counter products, though prescription retinoids contain higher concentrations of retinoic acid compared to over-the-counter options. While an OTC retinol isn’t quite as effective or speedy as prescription-strength, it’s less likely to cause irritation, redness, and peeling, so it’s better suited for anyone with sensitive or dry skin.
All Skin Types
If you’re not achieving the results you’re looking for from exfoliants alone, you might want to consider laser treatment. PicoSure®‘s advanced laser technology can reduce surface inconsistencies on your skin, treat dark spots and hyperpigmentation, promote collagen production, and brighten your skin surface overall. The short bursts of high energy signal the skin revitalization process.
While this kind of procedure covers your exfoliating bases, you’ll still want to care for your skin with nourishing ingredients such as alpha and beta hydroxy acids, vitamin C, coconut oil, and jojoba oil. Your skin will thank you!