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July 10, 2013

Everything You Need to Know About Exfoliation

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Since starting “Ask An Esti,” we’ve been getting loads of questions about exfoliation: what is it, how often to do it, which product to use for what skin type. After a few months of heat, sweat and self-tanner, I’d we’re all due for a proper epidermal pick-me-up! Simply put, exfoliation is the removal of dead, dull skin to reveal a brighter, smoother complexion. If you’re an avid BB reader, then you already know we are obsessed with any kind of skincare treatment that will give us that ethereal glow.

There are two main types of exfoliants: mechanical and chemical. Mechanical involves physical sloughing of dead cells by way of a scrub, washcloth or a rotary brush, like the Clarisonic. This type of exfoliation is ideal for normal, combination and dry skin types, but not for skin with active breakouts. Manual scrubbing of the skin can worsen any blemishes you might have and can spread infection. Chemical exfoliation, however, uses chemical action via acids (alpha + beta hydroxy) or enzymes (papain + bromelian) to break down dead skin. Vitamin A (retinoic acid) also encourages cell turnover. Depending on the level of active ingredients, chemical exfoliants can range from gentle to very strong. So, which should you use and how often? Frequency depends on skin type and product, but as a general rule once or twice a week is safe. Below is a quick list of suggested products for common skin types and conditions. Happy resurfacing! –Hannah

how to exfoliate like a pro | beauty bets

Dry or Dehydrated Skin: Choose an exfoliant with a manual scrub (to get rid of visible flakes) or one that contains lactic acid which is extremely effective at reducing fine lines and promoting hydration. Try Suki Exfoliate Foaming Cleanser ($32.95) or PCA Skin Nutrient Toner ($32).

Combination + Oily Skin: Look for a product that contains salicylic acid which will soothe inflammation, decongest pores and provide antibacterial benefits. My two longtime favorites are Arcona Cranberry Gommage ($42) and Dermalogica Daily Resurfacer ($66).

Acneic Skin: Steer clear of anything with a gritty texture and instead choose enzymes. Dermalogica Daily Microfoliant ($52) and One Love Organics Brand New Day Microderma Scrub & Mask ($12) exfoliate without being abrasive.

Aging & Premature Aging Skin: Since aging skin tends to be thinner and more delicate, avoid manual scrubs. A chemical treatment that includes glycolic and or lactic acid will activate collagen and elastin production, brighten skin tone and impart moisture. Ren Glycol Lactic Radiance Renewal Mask ($55) does so without the use of synthetics.

More Exfoliating Tips From Our Esti:
– Avoid scrubs that use nut kernels or shells (you know the one!) as these ingredients cause tiny cuts on the skin’s surface.
– No waxing for at least 48 hours after using an exfoliant.
– Do not use any chemical or manual exfoliants if you’ve been on isotretinoin (Accutane) within the last 6 months.
– Always wear an appropriate SPF during the day to protect resurfaced skin.
– Consult with a licensed esthetician or dermatologist for any questions about advanced treatments or peels.

  • Elizabeth Dehn
    Born and raised in Minnesota by surprisingly low-maintenance parents, beauty writer and lifestyle editor Elizabeth Dehn (aka Bets) spent her awkward years buying Mood lipstick and whipping up DIY face masks before founding Beauty Bets in 2009.
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