As the skin ages, the rate of skin cell turnover slows down. The result is a dull, lifeless complexion. Proper exfoliation is necessary to maintain a healthy glow. But all forms of exfoliation are not equal, and different skin types will require a customized approach to exfoliation.
For sensitive skin, a washcloth and creamy cleanser two or three times a week may be all that’s needed to gently remove dead skin cells. Immediately after using a washcloth, slather on a thick moisturizer to soothe and hydrate the newly-exfoliated skin. People with sensitive skin should avoid scrubs and microdermabrasion, which can lead to excessive irritation. Before applying an exfoliating glycolic or clay-based mask to the entire face, apply the product to a small test area.
For normal skin, a variety of exfoliating options are available. One of the best is a skincare brush, which gently removes dead cells, debris and oil. It’s best used every other night with a gentle cleanser followed by a moisturizer. Once-a-week gentle scrubs or glycolic masks are also helpful to keep skin looking fresh. But don’t overdo it! In my practice, I commonly see patients who are red and irritated from over-exfoliation, which, over time, may actually accelerate the aging process.
For oily or acne-prone skin, the skincare brush can be used daily with a glycolic cleanser. Another good option is the use of daily or every other day glycolic pads. These are pads soaked with alpha- and beta-hydroxy acid. You apply the pad to clean skin once daily to help remove oil, debris and dead skin cells that can clog pores. A popular beta-hydroxy acid ingredient is salicylic acid. Since daily use of glycolic acids can increase sun sensitivity, a good sunscreen is a must.
The Big Guns: Microdermabrasion and Chemical Peels
Although regular use of at-home products and treatments can help keep skin exfoliated, in-office procedures such as microdermabrasion and light chemical peels can quickly remove large amounts of dead skin to deliver exceptionally smooth skin. In addition to leaving the skin smoother, microdermabrasion and chemical peels can address other skin issues such as discoloration and acne. Seek out an an experienced dermatologist who can give you the proper treatment for your skin type. Remember, there is such a thing as too much of a good thing when it comes to exfoliation. Excessively red, tight or dry skin is a sign of inflammation, which is an indication that you must decrease the frequency (or strength) of your exfoliation routine.