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How to Exfoliate your Skin!
It may sound gross, but scrubbing off dead skin cells is actually a key part of a healthy skin-care regimen. Exfoliating has tons of benefits, like evening out skin tone, keeping pores clean, improving your skin's texture, reducing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, and preventing acne.
There are plenty of ways to exfoliate, from loofahs and scrubs to cleansing cloths and over-the-counter masks. And if you want to kick it up a notch, ask your dermatologist or a licensed aesthetician about a chemical or enzyme-based exfoliation or peel. Generally speaking, if you've got normal skin, it's fine to manually exfoliate daily, but if you have sensitive, oily, or dry skin, you should limit exfoliation to a few times a week. Talk to your dermatologist about which type (or types) of exfoliation is right for your complexion, and whichever product or method you choose, be gentle, avoiding the thinner, sensitive skin around your eyes. Ready to start scrubbing? Choose your weapon:
- Loofah: This natural, dried, fibrous sponge makes a spectacular sloughing tool. Whether you choose an actual sponge or a loofah-infused cloth or mitt, wet it with warm water and liquid body wash or soap, then gently scrub in a circular motion. (Loofahs are generally too scratchy to use on your face, but if you must, be extra gentle and keep the sloughing session brief.)
- Over-the-counter scrubs: There are tons of choices for body and face containing a vast array of exfoliating ingredients, like oatmeal, cornmeal, sugar, salt, coffee, almonds, and microbeads, along with moisturizing and toning/detoxifying ingredients. Depending on your preferences and budget, you're sure to find one you like at your local drugstore or department store.
- Homemade sloughers: Do it yourself (and save money in the process) by raiding your pantry for natural exfoliants. Make your own scrub by combining skin-friendly scrubbers like those mentioned above with moisturizing and toning/detoxifying ingredients such as yogurt, honey, olive oil, avocado, strawberry, citrus fruits, herbs, and essential oils.
- Microdermabrasion: Sandpaper for your face? Well, kind of. During this painless procedure, a dermatologist or licensed aesthetician uses a handheld device that simultaneously sprays fine crystals onto the skin as it vacuums them up, exfoliating dead cells and deep cleaning pores. Cosmetic companies have jumped on the microdermabrasion bandwagon, offering an array of cleansing cloths, polishers, and at-home tools you can try as a milder alternative.
- Chemical exfoliants: Chemical exfoliants like alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) and beta hydroxy acids (BHAs) are more effective than manual exfoliation alone because they change cell growth patterns and may help promote collagen production. A good first step: Try at-home superficial chemical peels that'll gently exfoliate by penetrating skin's outer layer and stripping away dead surface cells. (Always consult your dermatologist before trying a peel on your own, and get a recommendation for the type of peel that'll be right for your skin.) Prescription-strength Retin-A is another popular choice among dermatologists, since it's effective at unclogging pores and sloughing off dead skin cells around acne-prone areas. Retin-A is generally applied once or twice a day (remember to be extra careful about sun protection if you're using Retin-A as part of your skin-care routine).
One last tip: Exfoliation is a great way to prep your skin before you use a self-tanner. It helps the tanner go on more evenly to prevent that telltale streaking, and it'll help that (almost) natural glow last a little longer.
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