Sunday, March 07, 2010

30 Days to 10 years younger--10 minute tips. Tip 6: Exfoliate

Many components of our skin contribute to its healthy glow, and some of these are easily improved with very little effort. Our skin is multi-layered, with thin cells on top that are continuously sloughed off and replaced by new cells that push up from the dermis. As we age, our cellular turnover, i.e., the rate at which new skin cells replace old ones, slows down. It's over twice as long in a 50 year old as it is in a baby.

Thank goodness it's easy to nudge along the process by regularly exfoliating the skin.

Exfoliation is using cosmetic or mechanical means to remove the outermost layer of the skin. Exfoliation removes dead skin cells, smooths the surface of the skin, unclogs pore, and allows serums and creams to penetrate more easily.

No matter what your skin type, exfoliation will improve it. If you have clogged pores, exfoliation will unclog them. If you have dry skin, exfoliation will get rid of its dull, papery look.

Ways to exfoliate

If you use soap, a bar cleanser, or a foaming cleanser, mechanical exfoliation would probably be easiest. Instead of making a big deal of exfoliating, just use a good, scrubby washcloth a couple of times a week in the shower. A washcloth is the simplest, and if you have any left-over baby washcloths, they're wonderful, because they're thin and easy to manipulate.

If you use a creamy, wash-off cleanser, you can exfoliate by mixing a bit of baking soda into your cleanser before you apply it to your face. A quarter teaspoon is plenty--mix it into your cleanser in the palm of your hand, then wash as usual.

If you use a cleansing oil or other wipe-off cleanser, your best bet is to use a cosmetic exfoliator, rather than a mechanical one. I really love Alpha Hydrox 12 percent solution. It's designed for feet, elbows, and other problem areas, but it works fine on my face. I use it a couple of times a week, applying it right before bed. It keeps the flakes at bay.

Just remember that it's easy to irritate the skin by over-zealous exfoliating. Be gentle and ease up if you see any signs of irritation.

Try to make exfoliating a regular part of your skin care routine. You'll find your skin will look fresher, and your makeup will blend better and look more natural.


Susan Wagner's BlogHer BeautyHacks post, Exfoliate for Brighter Skin: Out with the Old, in with the New

Sarah Chapman's helpful video outlining chemical and granular exfoliators is here.


  1. And if you exfoliate, WEAR SUNSCREEN. Which you should be doing anyway. But especially if you exfoliate, yo. (Wait, am I jacking your next tip? If so, just delete this.)

    I am an exfoliating junkie. Exfoliant junkie? What is the right term for that? My very favorite thing is a creamy cleanser with little scrubby bits in it. Clearasil made one I loved, but it was discontinued ages ago. Sob!

  2. I'm an exfoliating junkie, too. In fact, I'm surprised I'm still here, because by rights, I should be a bunch of dead skin cells swirling down the drain.

    I'm going to advise people to use sunscreen, but for right now, I'm talking about stuff with immediate positive effects, not the long-term stuff that will keep us from turning into Shar-Peis.

    And hey--I know that Clearasil cleanser very well--you turned me on to it! I still have a couple of tubes in my stash.

  3. I don't know if I have a case of roseacea, or just hyper-sensitive skin, but even the gentlest exfoliation leaves me glowing red for hours, so I do it before bed. Any tips?


Gentle Readers:

For the time being, I've turned off comment moderation. Please don't spam; it's not nice.

xxx, Poppy.