If you want smooth skin, you’ve probably heard a million times that you should exfoliate. But there’s more to the technique than just scrubbing, especially if you have sensitive or breakout-prone skin where irritation is a serious issue. Well, don’t panic; we tapped NYC-based dermatologist Michele Green for the insider scoop on how to best exfoliate for your specific skin type. Let’s scrub to it.
Brit + Co: Is there anyone who shouldn’t be exfoliating?
Michele Green, Dermatologist: Exfoliating is appropriate for almost every type of skin and is especially beneficial for patients with oily skin and acne-prone skin. However, if your skin is dry, sensitive, or has a tendency for eczema, you have to be very careful when removing layers, as it may irritate it or dry it out more.
B + C: What are the best exfoliators for each skin type?
MG: There are two different types of exfoliators: mechanical and chemical. If you have blemishes frequently, you can use either a mechanical exfoliator like a facial scrub or clay mask. You can also try a Clarisonic with the right product. Depending on how dry your skin is, you can use a chemical exfoliator like alpha hydroxy acid cream, retinol cream, or even Retin-A. Applying these creams at night turns over dead skin cells and builds new collagen to rejuvenate your skin.
B + C: If you have serious acne issues, can you still exfoliate?
MG: Yes, you can (and should) if you tend to break out. Generally, I would advise a mask of some kind and treatment pads with salicylic acid. In my office, I recommend these amazing Retexturizing Pads ($65).
B + C: Should I think beyond my face when it comes to exfoliating?
MG: You can exfoliate any part of your body. If your feet, elbows, scalp, etc. are dry, you can use glycolic washes like Mario Badescu Glycolic Foaming Cleanser ($8) to help. Then “lock in” the moisture with a deep conditioning skin moisturizer like Eucerin Redness Relief Lotion ($15).
B+ C: How do you know if you are over-exfoliating?
MG: If you find that you are becoming too dry and irritated after exfoliating, then you know it’s time to take a break!
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