Exfoliating your face truly takes Goldilocks-level care: Do it too little and you’ll wind up with a pile of dead skin cells that’ll leave your complexion looking dull. Do it too frequently, and you risk over-exfoliating and compromising your skin barrier. So what’s the perfect number of times to slough away the old, tired skin to reveal a new, happier complexion?
In the latest episode of Dear Derm, board-dermatologist Mona Gohara, MD tackles this exact question. Obviously, there are so many variables surrounding exfoliation, including the type of exfoliant that you’re using, as well as your skin type, as well as the temperature, as well as the humidity (seriously, we could be here forever). And while we can’t help with the weather or how little moisture is in the air, we can help explain the different types of exfoliants so you know what’s best for your skin and how often to put it to use.
Physical or manual exfoliants work by mechanically removing and lifting skin away thanks to friction (a face-washing brush like a Clarisonic, $99 or scrubs are a good example of this). Chemical exfoliants, on the other hand, break down dead skin cells using acids. Ones you’ll commonly find in skin-care products include alpha-hydroxy acids and beta-hydroxy acids. If you’re dry or sensitive, try a light physical exfoliation (FWIW: Dr. Gohara’s favorite physical exfoliation is a good old-fashioned wash cloth) and if you have sturdier or acne-prone skin, reach for a chemical exfoliant.
While you can overdo it with both types of exfoliants, according to Dr. Gohara, physical exfoliants can be tailored more to your skin type, since you’re the one determining the pressure of the grain or cloth or brush gliding over skin (by contrast, you can’t choose how the acid will interact with your skin). To get going, click the video above to see Dr. Gohara’s instructions for how often to exfoliate, and subscribe to our Beauty Geek Facebook group to leave questions for her that we’ll answer on another episode. And of course, say goodbye to dead skin cells for good.
Skin feeling extra dry this season? Try Dr. Gohara’s “moisturizer layering” trick to give it all the hydration it needs. Plus, she shares exactly the number of steps every good skin-care routine should have.
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