When it comes to maintaining that fresh-faced glow, exfoliation is key. While our skin naturally regenerates itself monthly, the right exfoliation routine will help to clear off excess dead cells and create the perfect smooth canvas for your skin. So read on and take notes, because we’ve got the expert tips and holy grail skincare products for the ultimate facial exfoliation routine to fight dry and itchy skin this winter!
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By removing dead skin cells, facial exfoliation helps to prevent clogged pores, dull skin and uneven texture. This creates a perfect canvas for better absorption of skincare products, and smooth makeup application. Not to mention, preventing dry, flaking and itchy skin during the winter months, when the elements can be especially harsh on sensitive skin.
See also: Giving your skin the TLC it truly deserves.
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Mechanical vs chemical
When it comes to exfoliation, you’ve got two options: mechanical or chemical. Mechanical exfoliation involves a tool like a facial scrubbing brush, while chemical typically involves facial peel pads, exfoliating masks or products containing alpha- or beta hydroxy acids. Which type you go with will depend on your skin type, but typically, for beginners, a warm washcloth or gentle exfoliating cleanser is a good start — skip the harsher, grainy formulas if you’re concerned about sensitivity.
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Mechanical exfoliation do’s and don’ts
Do:Use a clean brush, and move in gentle circular movements around your face, avoiding your eye area where the skin is extra-sensitive. Remember to rinse with lukewarm water, pat dry, and apply moisturizer when done to nourish and soothe the skin, replenishing any stripped moisture.
Don’t:Rush the process with a heavy hand — brushing too aggressively or pressing down as you go can irritate the skin, causing redness, inflammation and potential breakouts.
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Chemical exfoliation do’s and don’ts
Do:Cleanse your face first. Apply your exfoliating product in small, circular motions, avoiding the eye area before rinsing off gently with warm water. Note: some exfoliating products will have specific instructions, so be sure to follow those in that case.
Don’t:Overdo it. To start, exfoliate skin only 1-2 times per week, to see how your skin reacts and avoid irritation or breakouts.
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The best drugstore exfoliator
The best drugstore option for exfoliating your face? CeraVe Salicylic Acid Cleanser — packed with vitamin D, this skincare brand is considered holy grail by beauty enthusiasts for its effectiveness, range of products for all types of skin and budget-friendly price points. Bonus points: out of over 11,000 Amazon reviews, 79% of users give this one 5-stars!
See also: 20 foods to eat to combat dry skin.
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Cult-favourite brand exfoliator
The Ordinary has always delivered on potent products at a fraction of the price of high-end brands, and their Glycolic Acid 7% Toning Solution ranks as one of their bestsellers – and for good reason. This toning solution (with over 294,000 “loves” on Sephora.ca) is good for all skin types and combines glycolic acid, amino acids, aloe vera, ginseng, and tasmanian pepperberry to target dullness and uneven texture.
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The exfoliator for acne-prone skin
A great option for acne-prone skin, Fresh Sugar Face Polish Exfoliator is a two-in-one facial scrub and mask uses real brown sugar and strawberries for a formula that targets uneven texture and dullness by buffing away dead skin and hydrating your face.
See also: Splurge vs save: face masks for winter.
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The Royal-approved facial exfoliator (ahem – Meghan Markle loves it!)
A gentle exfoliating option from clean skincare brand Tatcha, their Rice Enzyme Powder is as easy as “just add water” and watch as the powder formula turns to a foamy wash with Japanese rice bran. Great for fine lines and wrinkles, it’s no wonder Meghan Markle is said to have given it out as gifts at her baby shower!
See also: 28 shocking celebrity beauty treatments.
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The go-to exfoliating peel
Considered a favourite skincare brand amongst beauty insiders, Dr. Dennis Gross Alpha Beta Universal Daily Peel is described on Sephora.ca as “a patented two-step anti-aging AHA/BHA peel pad pre-dosed with five acids to visibly reduce dullness and uneven texture, pores, and dark spots” — and with over 73,000 “loves”, this one ranks as the top pick for facial exfoliating peels.
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Know when to skip the exfoliation
Exfoliation can be a great method of keeping your skin looking fresh and youthful, but sometimes it can do more harm than good. Steer clear of over-exfoliating if you find your skin begins to react to an over-stripping of cells and natural oils — or if you’re skin is inflamed or irritated from breakouts. Exfoliation will only aggravate broken and inflamed skin, and can worsen things like cold sores by making them spread, or do more damage to raw, sunburnt skin.
Written BySusy Alexandre