The Proper Way to Exfoliate Your Face

Of the 4 basic things to do for great skin, the third is exfoliate. But what is the best way to exfoliate? Physical scrubs? Chemical peels? Microdermabrasion? There are so many options to choose from.

Today I’ll explain the best and worst ways to exfoliate your facial skin.

  1. Physical Scrubs – Some scrubs are good and some are bad. If a scrub is made of crushed seed hulls (St. Ive’s Apricot Scrub) or has jagged edges, do not use it on your face. They will scratch your face making micro-tears and micro-punctures in your skin. This breaks down the skin’s integrity and leaves it open to possible infection. A good facial scrub would have round beads that are used to gently slough away dead skin cells. How you use a scrub is very important also. You must gently roll the scrub over your skin using small circular motions and minimal pressure. DO NOT rub your skin aggressively as if you were using a piece of sandpaper on wood. It is a must to purchase your scrub from a skin care professional as many over-the-counter products are detrimental to your skin.
  2. Chemical Peels – Peels are an excellent way to exfoliate your skin. There are many different peels and some are more aggressive than others. Depending on your skin type, some peels may be too harsh or not exfoliating enough. Before receiving a peel, consider what you want to accomplish, how deep into your skin do you want to peel, can you afford any down time and what’s the cost. It has been my experience over the years that dry skin peels easier than oily skin, so if you have oily skin, you may have to get a more aggressive peel for optimal results. A light peel that leaves you slightly exfoliated is the Lactic Peel. A step up from the Lactic Peel would be the Glycolic Peel. If you have hyperpigmentation, scars, and fine lines you would probably want to consider a low-level Jessner Peel. Even more aggressive than the Jessner Peel would be the TCA Peel. Before getting a peel, be sure you understand what grade peel you are receiving as some peels peel for up to a week. NEVER peel your face at home with a kit you purchased online. Always use a skin care professional.
  3. Microdermabrasion – Microdermabrasion is one of the worst treatments you can receive, especially if you have aging skin (someone over the age of 25-30). MDA sprays crystals onto the skin while a vacuum sucks them from the skin. The sprayed crystals are supposed to break down the dry skin while the vacuum removes the crystals and the dead skin cells simultaneously. Because the MDA tip is dragged in multiple directions over the skin as the vacuum aggressively sucks your skin into the tip, it stretches the skin. This can cause you to lose elasticity and over time your skin becomes looser. Further, the suction of the MDA tip breaks vessels in your face or pulls more blood into already broken vessels you may have. The result is a red, ruddy look that increasingly gets worse with each MDA treatment. The broken vessels can be repaired with a laser treatment, but that could be costly and cause some downtime.

The best way to lightly exfoliate your skin on a daily basis is with Tretinoin or Retinoic Acid (Retin A). It is a form of Vitamin A and is available in a cream or gel of different concentrations. Applied nightly before bedtime, the Retin A is absorbed into the skin. Retin-A also works as an anti-aging treatment by refreshing the skin cells of the face causing cellular turnover to take place much more quickly minimizing pores and increasing collagen production. This provides a tighter, smoother appearance to the skin of the face. This will minimize the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, while the increase in collagen production will help to keep the skin taut and line free. (Retin A is also excellent to be used on acne and scars.)

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