Regular exfoliation is important to boost facial cell turnover cycle
Everybody needs to exfoliate, especially as we transition into summer when faces can get clogged with sunscreen, makeup and sweat. If you are worried about irritating your skin or if you have particularly reactive skin, don’t worry, there are so many different formulations in the market now that as long as you follow directions (i.e. don’t use too much pressure or use too often), your skin will be glowing with happiness.
You regularly need to exfoliate to boost the natural cell turnover cycle. Without any help, old cells like to linger on the surface, physically blocking young, fresh cells from showing. As they accumulate, they become grey, flaky and dull - sounds familiar? Exfoliation removes this layer and the results are immediate: skin is noticeably softer, complexion is brighter and serums/lotions are absorbed much faster.
There are two main types of exfoliators: manual and chemical. Manual exfoliation involves beads of some form to physically “scrub” away the surface cells. On this note, please stay away from products that contain microbeads, which are harmful to the ecosystem and are in the process of being banned in Canada. Chemical exfoliation involves an acid (alpha hydroxy or beta hydroxy) or enzyme and these are treatments that “eat” away at the surface cells.
If you’re starting from zero, try incorporating one into your routine once a week and increase slowly to two to three times a week as your skin adapts.
Dr. Roebuck's Polish ($39.95, Shoppers Drug Mart) is in a creamy base with jojoba beads that are on the larger side, making this a gentle one to start off with if you’ve never exfoliated before or have reactive skin. ZO Skin Health’s Offects Exfoliating Polish ($84, Touch of Joy) is extremely concentrated and uses magnesium crystals - use a light touch here. I love this one at the end of the day when I’m feeling especially grimy or sweaty.
Éminence’s Strawberry & Rhubarb Dermafoliant ($48) smells delicious and is a powder housed in a vintage-feeling metal canister. Sprinkle into your palm, add water to make a paste and massage onto the face. This contains rice powder and thermal mud, so it’s also extremely absorbent - great for oily skin. I also use this thinned out as a cleanser/toner whenever I need just a quick, light freshening up.
REN's Rosa Centifolia Gentle Exfoliating Cleanser ($36, Kiss and Makeup) is a dual-phase cleanser. As you massage this onto your face, jojoba wax beads eventually melt, turning into an oil-based cleanser. This is a lovely one for those with reactive skins. For a treat, Själ's Pearl Enzyme Exfoliating Mask ($198, Kiss and Makeup) is triple packed with fruit acids, enzymes and real crushed pearls. Gently massage this onto your face, then leave for 15 minutes before rinsing off with warm water.
In addition to soughing away dead skin cells, chemical exfoliators can also improve light scarring and lighten hyperpigmentation. Because they’re active on a deeper layer, your skin will become photosensitive while using these products so always wear a sunscreen with a minimum of SPF 30 every day.
For a great, no-nonsense exfoliator, NeoStrata’s Glycolic Renewal Smoothing Lotion ($39, London Drugs) is a fast-absorbing, encapsulated glycolic lotion that’s available at 5% and 10% strengths, so you can start gently and build up tolerance. SkinCeuticals’ Retexturing Activator ($87) is a resurfacing serum that has light moisturizing properties so it does help protect the moisture barrier. Those with oily skin may not need to follow up with a separate moisturizer. It’s meant to be used sparingly; start with 4-5 drops, any more and it’ll get sticky.
Bliss’s that’s incredi-‘peel’! ($59, Sephora) are individual sachets of pre-saturated wipes. They’re loaded with product so after you wipe over your face, there’s plenty left to treat your neck, chest, hands, elbows, knees, etc. I always have a couple of these packets in my travel kit.
Small-batch, luxury brand Arcona’s Gentle Solution ($73.12, Nordstrom) is a glycolic and lactic acid based product packed full of natural ingredients like algae, amino acids and chlorophyll to help congested skin transform into glowing skin. This is another gentle one for reactive skin. It’s a great stand-alone product but it’s recommended to follow up in the mornings with the Cranberry Gommage exfoliant ($63.46) to thoroughly remove surface cells.
La Prairie’s Cellular 3-Minute Peel ($310, Nordstrom) truly does work in a mere three minutes. I love this in the morning when I wake up feeling sluggish. I apply this luscious masque while getting ready and before my tea is made, I’m ready to rinse. I’m rewarded with a face that feels lighter, brighter and tighter. I save this one as a personal “secret weapon” for days I really want to look perky.