EXFOLIATS: TIPS ON SKIN EXFOLIATION

We've always heard that the key to beautiful, problem free skin was to use a 3-step approach of cleansing, toning and moisturizing. While that may work for people with naturally flawless skin, the key to preventing breakouts, evening out skin tone and maintaining a natural glow is gentle exfoliation. Gentle exfoliation works by removing the dead layers of skin that often lead to the clogged pores, breakouts and dull, uneven skin tone that none of us want. By removing the dead skin, you allow new, fresh skin to come to the surface.  
Now notice that I said “gentle” exfoliation. When most people hear the word exfoliation, they have visions of rubbing abrasive, harsh, apricot seeds and grainy scrubs on their faces. In most cases, those types of products do more harm than good. Your skin, particularly if you deal with breakouts, cannot handle the harsh nature of those types of exfoliators. Overly scrubbing your skin can also lead to discoloration and skin tone issues. However, exfoliation should be an integral part of any skin care regimen, so the key is to use an exfoliant that does the job without the irritation.  

Generally, exfoliants fall into two categories: manual exfoliants or chemical exfoliants:
Manual exfoliants include a range of options from face cloths to non-abrasive scrubs. Many people simply rub a face cloth on their faces in a circular motion as a great way to remove dead surface cells on the skin. Buf Pufs used to be a popular option, but I think they’re akin to rubbing steel wool on your face…way too harsh! Fortunately, there are a number of less abrasive options on the market including Neutrogena Wave or L’Oreal 360 Clean that comes with a little “Scrublet” to clean your face. Lastly, another type of manual exfoliator in one that contain smooth grains or microbeads that avoid scratching your skin. Unless you have super thick skin, it’s best not to use a manual exfoliator more than a 3-4 times a week.
Chemical exfoliants include cleansers, creams and serums that contain ingredients like glycolic acid (or AHAs), lactic acid, salicylic acid and the like. These chemical exfoliants are able to get deep into your skin to remove dead layers and increase cell turnover. Mandelic acid has recently received rave reviews for being less irritating than some of the more popular acids, particularly for ethnic skin. I’ve used mandelic and lactic acid with great success in evening out my skin tone. However, for any chemical exfoliant, I’d recommend doing a patch test first and seeing how your skin reacts. The benefit of chemical exfoliants is that you tend to get results much faster than manual exfoliants, but again, you definitely need to start slow and see what your skin can handle. For mild chemical exfoliators, many people can work up to 3-4 times a week once their skin has adjusted to its tolerance level.
So there you have it – a new 4-step process that consists of cleansing, exfoliating, toning and moisturizing. Remember, stay away from the harsh abrasives and use either gentle manual or chemical exfoliants instead. As you continue using these options, you’ll agree that exfoliation is a critical 4thstep in your beauty regimen to help you achieve and maintain a beautiful, flawless glow.

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