If you want smoother, more radiant skin, it’s time to get exfoliating and remove the outer layers of dead skin cells to reveal a brighter, fresher complexion. Everyone’s skin needs a helping hand to make it look better, especially as we get older. Not only does collagen production slow down as we age, but the skin’s shedding process also becomes more irregular and this can lead to a thinning of the skin’s plump living layers and also a thickening of the dead, dull, dry top layers. Result? Dull, blotchy, flaky skin. Regular exfoliation helps to remove some of this dead skin build-up and stimulates the deeper living skin layers. Your skin will be healthier and brighter, pores will look more refined, and your skin tone will be more even.
Know that you know the why, read on to find out more about the how.
A bit like an electric toothbrush, but on a bigger scale, these brushes help remove dead skin cells and makeup to unclog your pores without too much effort on your part. Not just for use on your face, they’re great to take into the shower to keep your skin in flawless condition from top to toe.
How it works: High-tech brushes remove dead skin cells and dirt on the surface of your skin using “sonic” technology, which helps the head rotate and oscillate to really clean your skin deep down – six times better than your hands according to the experts! Just apply to damp skin with your regular cleanser and let the brush do all the hard work. Use daily or, if your skin is delicate, every other day.
Try: The Clarisonic ‘Cleansing System Plus’. The crème de la crème of brushes, it can go from delicate to power cleansing at the touch of a button and can be used on the face or body to leave your skin smooth, radiant, and glowing.
Manual scrubs contain abrasive ingredients like sugar, rice, salt, and even ground-up nuts that are massaged into your skin to remove dead skin cells. Great for the face, they are also ideal for the body, especially areas like the backs of the arms or thighs. But it’s worth reading the label on whatever scrub you’re thinking of investing in to check what you’re buying. Many contain synthetic microbeads, which, if you haven’t already heard, have been proven to be damaging to the planet by polluting water supplies and poisoning marine life. Make sure you opt for natural ingredients instead.
How it works: These types of exfoliators are applied to the skin and manually massaged in to slough off the top layer. You would normally combine with water and use your fingertips to create a light pressure all around. On the face, concentrate on areas prone to congestion, such as the chin, sides of the nose, and forehead. The harder you rub, the more intense the exfoliation. Use once or twice a week
Bioeffect ‘Volcanic Exfoliator’
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Try: For skin that’s congested and/or suffering from the effects of pollution, try the Bioeffect ‘Volcanic Exfoliator’, which contains gentle exfoliants made from Icelandic micro-crystalline lava and apricot kernels to remove impurities, refresh, and smooth the skin.
Peel and Reveal
Chemical exfoliators literally peel off the top layers of skin, but don’t be scared of using them. They’re not designed to leave skin red and sore, and can actually be the gentlest way to exfoliate as they are easier to control than a manual scrub! Just follow the instructions, which are normally time related. For a deeper exfoliation, leave on for longer or, even easier, choose a night product that contains an exfoliating ingredient so it works as you sleep.
How it works: Ingredients such as fruit enzymes and alpha and beta hydroxy acids penetrate your skin deep down to loosen the glue-like substances that hold skin cells together, shedding the top layer of dull, damaged skin. Depending on the strength of the peel, you might feel a mild tingling as the product gets to work. Some are designed to be used daily, some once or twice a week. A word of warning: Some chemical peels can make your skin more sun sensitive, so avoid using before a day spent outside and always protect your skin with a broad spectrum SPF just to be on the safe side.
Susanne Kaufmann ‘Enzyme Peel’
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Try: The Susanne Kaufmann ‘Enzyme Peel’. It contains mild fruit acids from kiwis, apples, and papayas to gently melt away a build-up of dead skin without being abrasive.
Tailor to Your Skin Type
For even better results, tailor your exfoliator to your skin type. Read on to find out how.
Aged skin: Lines and wrinkles etched onto your face? Then try a retinol-based product like Obagi’s ‘Retinol 0.5’. These lotions contain a form of vitamin A that dissolves the upper layers of your skin to trigger repair when used at night. The downside is that your skin can get inflamed and dry and you’ll need to protect it from UV rays during the day, but after a few weeks of use you’ll notice that your skin will be much smoother and plumper.
Acne-prone skin: Regular exfoliation is essential for congested skin with open pores, blackheads, and acne. If you have acne scars, it also helps stimulate cell turnover to repair and restructure the skin. Use a peel pad soaked in an alpha-hydroxy-acid (AHA) or glycolic acid that you can sweep gently over face and neck. It’s not scratchy, so it won’t irritate the skin, and it helps keep pores unblocked. Try the Colbert MD ‘Intensify Facial Discs’, which combine bromelain (a fruit acid found in pineapples) and lactic acid to help repair, brighten, and prevent pigmentation marks from blemishes.
Uneven skin: If the sun has left your skin looking speckled and uneven, then take action with a daily product that exfoliates the top layers of the skin to fade and lighten dark marks. Try the Skinceuticals ‘Advanced Pigment Corrector’, which has been proven to reduce dark spots thanks to a unique combination of propionic and ellagic acids.