The Best Way to Exfoliate According to Your Skin Type
Anyone can exfoliate, but you need to make sure you’re using the right method for you. Here’s how to treat YOUR skin.
There are some steps in your skincare routine that you can go ahead and skip without consequence (a facial massage feels great, but it’s not going to make or break your skin). But exfoliation isn’t one of them. Skip this step and you’ll notice dull, rough skin before you know it.
Need more convincing? Even if you’re not trying to extract blackheads, exfoliation still offers more benefits than you might think. Exfoliation unearths fresh skin cells, removing the top layer of dead skin cells—which can pile up, giving skin a matte, dull look—for instant brightness. Plus, by removing those dead cells, anything you apply afterward can penetrate more deeply into the skin. That’s a win-win for skin. And some types of exfoliation are great for everyone, like exfoliating your lips. A formula like ChapStick® Total Hydration Conditioning Lip Scrub both exfoliates dead skin, which can help reduce flakes, and moisturizes with vitamin E for soft, smooth lips.
But not all types of exfoliation are good for all types of skin. Here, the best way to exfoliate, depending on your skin type. (Not sure what kind of skin you have? A dermatologist can help you figure it out and make sure you’re using the right treatments.) And no matter what method you use, make sure to follow up with moisturizer.
Skin Type: Normal
If you have normal skin—that is, clear and not usually sensitive—you can exfoliate depending on your personal preferences, using either a manual exfoliating method, like a scrub, or a chemical one, which usually contains ingredients like acids to remove dead skin cells.
Skin Type: Dry or Sensitive
If your skin is dry, it needs a little TLC. In terms of exfoliation, that translates to gentle chemical exfoliating agents, such as a light salicylic acid treatment, which dissolves dead skin cells. If you notice any irritation or discomfort even from that, limit your exfoliation to just once a week—though you can increase the frequency if your skin tolerates it well.
Skin Type: Oily
If you can’t even make it to lunchtime without your skin getting greasy, you know the struggle of oily skin. Oily skin can stand up to (and benefit from) more powerful forms of exfoliation, like a 2-percent salicylic acid cleanser, a facial cleansing brush, or even a gritty scrub. Taking advantage of this can help keep pores clear, which can in turn stave off breakouts. Exfoliate every day if needed, during or right after cleansing.
Skin Type: Acne-Prone
Desperate times—like a breakout that just won’t quit—call for desperate measures. Enter the chemical peel, which basically destroys the superficial layers of skin in order to exfoliate (and therefore remove) superficial lesions, including acne. Agents like salicylic acid, glycolic acid, lactic acid, and mandelic acid are common in at-home chemical peel kits (make sure to follow the directions carefully). Many dermatologists also offer peels with these ingredients, although obviously, in-office versions can be higher strength. Chemical peels also offer a one-two punch: They help with both active acne and acne scars.