Am I Exfoliating Wrong?


Here's the thing about a regular skincare habit like exfoliating: Since you've been doing it for so long, it's easy to slip into autopilot and assume that the products and techniques you've been doing for years can’t be improved upon. Except, the science behind skincare is changing. Rapidly. And there are dozens of new ways to sleuth dead skin cells from your face that are way more effective than that face scrub you’ve been turning to for years.

In fact, getting the whole exfoliating things wrong can actually do your skin more damage than good. Like, say, if you use a technique that’s way too harsh for your skin or if you’re exfoliating too often—both of these moves will backfire big time. Tess Adams, natural beauty expert and cofounder of clean skin spa, Take Care, agrees that exfoliating, while “necessary” can be “harsh if we aren't doing it right.” Over-exfoliating can leave your skin dry, red, irritated, and could even trigger a breakout.

Mechanical Exfoliators

Mechanical exfoliators are the first thing that normally come to mind when you hear the term “exfoliate.” These are grainy lotions or devices that physically rub the skin to remove the top layer of dead cells.

Beauty companies have come a long way since the humble loofah, and you’ve probably heard of some of the newer mechanical exfoliation devices like the Clarisonic, a particularly buzzy exfoliator that uses rotating bristles to smooth your skin. And while this device will definitely get the job done and is particularly suitable to skin that’s flakey, Tess says you should partner is with the right cleanser for best results. “We do have to be mindful to use the right cleansers when using these devices and I always recommend a creamy soothing cleanser,” she told The Prettyish.

Another popular type of mechanical exfoliation is microdermabrasian, a treatment that’s typically used by estheticians and dermatologists. “Microdermabrasion is an awesome way to exfoliate, we just need to make sure we aren't over doing it with the intensity,” Adams warns. That means seeing a pro for your microdermabrasion treatments and keeping at least a few weeks between each session. 

Chemical Exfoliants

Yes very idea of rubbing acid into our face to remove dead skin sounds terrifying; but it’s actually not. Many acids can be derived from natural ingredients, including glycolic acid and lactic acid, and are actually more gentle than many types of mechanical exfoliation. 

“Chemical exfoliants can certainly be good for some skin types, particularly dry, dehydrated skin or if we are trying to heal acne blemishes,” Adams added. 

An exfoliant or peel with alpha hydroxy acids not only leaves the skin looking glowy and fresh, but is also a super-charged anti-aging technique. Look for one with glycolic, lactic, citric, malic or tartaric acid on the ingredient list. The downside: exfoliating leaves your skin more sensitive to the sun, so make sure you use SPF religiously. Yep, even in winter. 

PHOTO: @christinanadin

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