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Choosing the Right Exfoliation Technique

Woman exfoliating skin

Exfoliation is a necessary part of a healthy skin care routine, but only if you are using the right exfoliator for your skin type. Exfoliation increases cell turnover, removes dead skin cells from the surface of your skin and helps to keep your pores clear. Learn what exfoliation technique you should be using based on your skin type below.

Aging skin is often sensitive and dry, but it does still need to be exfoliated. In fact, it is crucial that you continue to exfoliate aging skin because doing so increases cell renewal and allows your anti-aging ingredients to penetrate the skin and to be more fully absorbed. Both physical and chemical exfoliators can, and should be, used on aging skin. A microdermabrasion scrub with super-fine particles is an excellent physical exfoliator for aging skin. Chemical exfoliators are also quite helpful for aging skin. “Chemical exfoliators can penetrate skin deeper to improve the appearance of fine lines,” says Rianna Loving, esthetician. Look for products that contain a blend of alpha- and beta-hydroxy acids to see the greatest results.

Many people with acne think that using abrasive scrubs is the best way to remove dead skin cells and unclog pores, but this could not be more wrong. “Acne lesions are inflamed, so they need extra care to minimize further irritation,” advises Dr. Verallo-Rowell, dermatopathologist. If you have acne-prone skin, you want to avoid physical exfoliants like sugar, salt, harsh grains or nuts and facial brushes. All of these can seriously aggravate acne-prone skin and make your face look more irritated. “If you have breakouts, use a chemical exfoliator to fight oil and acne from a deeper level in the skin,” says Loving. Both alpha- and beta-hydroxy acids work for acne-prone skin, but salicylic acid (beta hydroxy acid) is the most commonly recommended acid for acne-prone skin.

Physical exfoliators are generally the best bet for oily skin types, but you do need to be careful that you don’t go overboard with physical exfoliators. Scrubs can significantly improve oily skin, but be sure that you are using one that is not too abrasive. Jojoba beads are an excellent ingredient to look for in scrubs because they exfoliate the skin, but in a gentle manner. You can also look to cleansing devices to help exfoliate oily skin, but again be sure you are using an appropriate setting to avoid damaging your skin.

You probably wouldn’t think that physical exfoliators would be beneficial to dry skin, but if you are using physical exfoliators with the right ingredients, they can be. “Dry skin types can benefit from exfoliators that remove dead, dull skin, but also provide hydration. Scrubs that contain honey are perfect not only to exfoliate, but moisturize as well,” says Loving.

Sensitive skin should actually skip physical and chemical exfoliators to avoid irritation and damage to the skin. If you have sensitive skin, look for like powders like rice and oatmeal powders to exfoliate your face. Dr. Verallo-Rowell notes that if you have truly sensitive skin due to a medical condition, you should probably skip exfoliation all together to avoid damaging your skin.

Exfoliation is one of the best ways to thoroughly cleanse your skin and promote turnover of younger, healthier skin cells. In addition to keeping your skin clean and glowing, proper exfoliation also increases the effectiveness of your other skin care products. Exfoliate two to three times weekly and start revealing radiant skin.

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