For a long time, exfoliation has been regarded as a short-cut to glowing, healthy-looking skin by everyone from beauty experts to home remedy enthusiasts alike. After all, what’s not to like about a quick and easy routine that scrubs off your dead skin cells and reveals a brighter, fresher complexion beneath? Unfortunately, you can have too much of a good thing, and not exfoliating properly can actually damage your skin. Here’s our guide to making it work for you.
The main pitfall of exfoliation, experts tell us, is doing it too often. Because as well as removing dead cells, excess scrubbing will also strip your skin of the enzymes and oils it needs to stay healthy. And as a result, you could be left looking red, puffy and inflamed. In severe cases, over-exfoliation can even lead to hyperpigmentation.
So, it’s important to find a routine that works for your skin type. Generally speaking, younger people and those with oily skin can get away with scrubbing 2-3 times a week, while those with drier and more mature skin should limit the ritual to just once in a seven-day period. If you’ve got combination skin, you can play around to find the right frequency for you – but keep an eye out for any redness or inflammation as a sign that you need to slow things down.
Next, you need to make sure you choose the right formula for your skin type. These days, there are a host of complex products on the market, offering everything from extra hydration and balancing acids to blemish correction. For mature complexions, pick an exfoliant with added retinoids, which will work to plump and firm up your skin. Or, at the other end of the spectrum, why not try a simple, homemade formula? You can find lots of recipes for free online, and it’s easy to tailor the end result to suit your specific skin type.
Once you’ve chosen your exfoliant, the best time to apply it is just before bed, giving your skin time to recover from any post-treatment sensitivity. Start with clean skin and add it in at the beginning of your routine, before any moisturisers or serum. And as before, keep a close eye on things the morning after your application – your skin will tell you if something is amiss.