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Smooth complexions and softer skin don’t just come from facial cleansers and moisturizers alone. Exfoliants really help give us the glow by sloughing away dead skin cells on our skin’s outermost surface. There are two types of exfoliants: mechanical and chemical. Mechanical includes scrubs that contain micro jojoba beads, crushed almond shells, or sugar; pumice, and any abrasive facial sponges, brushes or loofahs. Chemical includes acids, enzymes and peels. Trust me, it’s not as scary as it sounds. Let’s break it down.

When should I exfoliate?

If you love to beat your face and wear heavy makeup during the day, then nighttime exfoliation may provide the best results. On the other hand, if you tend to be oilier in the mornings when you wake up, you may want to exfoliate as part of your morning routine.

Normal, dry/dehydrated, sensitive, and aging skin types should use a mechanical exfoliant at least once per week. Oily/acneic skin types should exfoliate no more than three times per week. And no matter what, you should pretty much never exfoliate everyday. Over-exfoliation is the quickest way to dry out your skin which can cause fissures and possibly give yourself wrinkles prematurely. None of us want to age too soon. So that Clarisonic you’re obsessed with? Yeah, there really isn’t a need to use it everyday.

Chemical exfoliants are on a slightly different timeline. For the best results, you’ll want to use chemical peels in a series. A chemical peel series typically lasts 4-6 weeks and most clients take a 6-12 week break between series. Your esthetician will likely suggest the right chemical peel regimen for you. Pro tip: do not attempt to perform your own chemical peel. There are plenty of horror stories on YouTube if you don’t believe me.

There are some chemical exfoliants that may be used at home and those are enzymes and acids. The most common of these used at home are papain (papaya) and bromelain (pineapple) enzymes and glycolic acid. Check with your dermatologist to ensure that you are not allergic before use.

Which exfoliant is best for me?

Scrubs with sugar and jojoba beads are generally the safest mechanical exfoliants for any skin type. If you’re looking to correct texture and smooth your skin, try using a pumice very lightly on dry skin before cleansing.

Enzymes and glycolic acid are great for sensitive, dry, and aging skin types especially. If you’ve got oily or acneic skin, you’ll want an exfoliant that contains salicylic acid to help balance oil production while clearing out pores. You can find these combined in a scrub or available by themselves. Again, check with your dermatologist to ensure there isn’t an allergy.

Book an appointment with your esthetician today to learn more about the right exfoliation techniques for your skin.

Image Credit: Freda Mily by Riccardo La Valle via Freda.Mily Tumblr