You’ve heard that exfoliation leaves skin rejuvenated and radiant. But everyone’s skin is different, and everyone’s skin changes over time. Are you getting the maximum benefits of exfoliation for your skin type?
Done right, exfoliation can help correct imbalances in the skin, whether it’s oily, dry, acne prone, hyperpigmented, sensitive, or mature. As an esthetician working with every skin type, I’ve seen that the rejuvenating benefits of exfoliation apply to virtually everyone. My clients see best results when their product choices and rituals align with their skin type and age.
Below, I’ll touch on the general benefits of exfoliation and offer suggestions for organic products to complement your skin type. At the end, I’ll highlight a cleanser + peel pairing that’s beneficial for a range of skin types — and I’m offering special pricing when you purchase them together!
Benefits of Exfoliation
First, a refresher on the benefits of exfoliation:
- Removes dead, dry, and dull skin cells from the outer layers of the skin, resulting in a brighter complexion.
- Helps moisturizers work more effectively and penetrate deeper.
- Draws out impurities, unclogging pores.
- Minimizes signs of aging.
- Increases cellular metabolism.
Exfoliation and Skin Type
Now for the lowdown on which type of exfoliants will work best for your skin type and why, along with loose recommendations for how often to use them. If you have an esthetician, ask their advice on what timeline would best suit you. (Or schedule a virtual skin consultation with me and we can discuss it.) As a general rule, however, in the early spring, plan to exfoliate every other day.
Dry or Mature Skin
Dry and mature skin have similar needs, and see similar benefits from exfoliation.
Dry skin is a skin type indicated by small pores, a dull complexion, and less elasticity. This might sound counterintuitive, but exfoliation can be great for dry skin. It allows the fatty acids in your serum or moisturizer to penetrate the skin’s visible surface and nourish cells beneath, firming skin from its deepest layers. Because dry skin produces relatively little oil, exfoliation is best done with a hydrating acid. Look for lactic acid or glycolic acid in the ingredients. These natural acids are considered “chemical exfoliants” because they exfoliate without abrasion.
Mature skin has similar needs to dry skin. While you’ll want to avoid physical exfoliants, you can still experience the benefits of exfoliation from a plant-derived chemical exfoliant. Glycolic acid (GA) is the go-to for most skin over 40 (that number could be higher or lower depending on genetics and lifestyle). This water-soluble alpha hydroxy acid triggers fibroblasts in the skin’s lower layer to produce collagen, the protein that keeps skin structured and elastic. GA is also hydrating and stimulates cellular metabolism.
Try this: Firm Skin Acai Exfoliating Peel
This firming peel hydrates skin deeply while exfoliating with glycolic acid for collagen production and lactic acid for intense hydration. The formula is packed with natural antioxidants from acai berry, grapefruit, and goji. Regular use of this peel will visibly increase skin’s firmness, restore its elasticity and reveal a smoother, softer, younger looking complexion. Wipe on, leave on. Use up to three times per week. Note: Your skin will be more sensitive to the sun while using this product. Use sunscreen, wear protective clothing, and limit sun exposure.
Note: Dry and mature skin types are not the same as dehydrated skin, which feels rough and chapped, sometimes flakey. If your skin is dehydrated, don’t exfoliate. Instead, nourish the skin with hydrating products until the skin barrier is healthy enough for exfoliation.
Oily skin also benefits greatly from exfoliation, which can remove excess oil along with dead skin cells. Here, you’ll want to look for a gentle scrub known as a physical exfoliant, which helps break down oil.
Try this: Charcoal Exfoliating Cleanser
This exfoliating cleanser uses charcoal to draw dirt and oil from pores as the exfoliating lather washes away impurities, dead skin cells, and excess oil, leaving you with a balanced complexion. Start every other day and work up to daily if your skin responds well.
To see the benefits of exfoliation for acne-prone skin, I recommend salicylic acid. This naturally-occurring acid is found in willow bark and strawberries, and helps manage bacteria as it removes dead skin cells and prevents the formation of comedones. It’s safe for many different skin types because it can self-neutralize. It also reduces inflammation, helping minimize the appearance of blemishes.
Try this: Strawberry Rhubarb Dermafoliant
Add this powder to your favorite cleanser for an exfoliating boost that reveals a brighter, radiant complexion. Strawberries contain natural salicylic acid to remove dead skin cells, and lactic acid adds a hydrating exfoliation. Rice powder gently buffs and absorbs excess oil. Finally, rhubarb infuses the skin with antioxidants. Start with every other day and work up to daily if your skin responds well.
Sensitive skin needs the gentlest exfoliants, whether chemical or physical. I recommend a formula with alpha-hydroxy acids (AHAs) in a cream base, which buffers them. AHAs are naturally-occuring acids that gently dissolve dead skin. If you choose to use a physical scrub, use a light touch. It shouldn’t leave your skin feeling raw or irritated.
This is the most gentle exfoliating cleanser we have, and the only one that I recommend to clients with dermatitis. The AHAs come from lemon, passion fruit, grape, and pineapple extracts The olive seeds are finely ground and not overly abrasive. Monoi itself is a fragrant Tahitian oil that hydrates and firms the skin. Start with once per week and work up to using it daily if your skin seems happy.
Hyperpigmented skin is a patch of skin that’s darker, and not accompanied by irritation. When exfoliating, we want to combine the acids that exfoliate with acids that brighten and help reduce hyperpigmentation. For instance, combining lactic acid with mandelic acid.
This award-winning natural peel combines exfoliating lactic acid with brightening mandelic acid. daisy blossom, and extracts of African potato and tara tree lighten the appearance of hyperpigmentation. Wipe on, leave on. Start with once per week and work up to as many as three exfoliating treatments per week. Note: Your skin will be more sensitive to the sun while using this product, so use sunscreen and limit sun exposure.
Wondering where your glow went? Dull skin can be one of the first signs of aging, as the rate of natural exfoliation decreases. Awaken the skin with a warming exfoliant that also increases circulation. Bonus points if it draws out impurities with clay or charcoal.
Try This: Turmeric Energizing Treatment
This golden powder revitalizes skin with turmeric, zeolite, and kaolin clay. Turmeric is an ancient beauty secret and potent antioxidant that brightens skin and reduces puffiness. Zeolite exfoliates and brings literal heat to this formula. Kaolin clay gently draws impurities from pores, deeply cleaning and softening skin without stripping moisture. The treatment activates as you add water, transforming into a warming mousse. Try it once per week and add an additional weekly treatment if needed.
Perfect Pairing: The Gentle Exfoliation Collection
Monoi Age Corrective Exfoliating Cleanser + Firm Skin Acai Exfoliating Peel: I chose this pairing because it combines a manual scrub and a gentle chemical exfoliant. It’s gentle and hydrating for the transitions our skin faces, and beneficial for any skin type — even sensitive and mature. (Head back to the highlights under Sensitive Skin and Mature Skin to discover how these plant-based formulas work their magic.) Both products are from Eminence Organics, a skin care line that combines the best of cutting-edge science and nature’s wisdom for botanical products that get results. They’re cruelty-free and made with zero harsh chemicals.
How to use this collection
- Start every morning by cleansing with the Monoi Age Corrective Exfoliating Cleanser.
- Apply on dry skin and emulsify with wet fingertips.
- Splash with tepid water to remove.
- Pat dry.
- Every other morning, wipe the skin with Firm Skin Acai Exfoliating Peel, using the cotton round provided.
- Finish with serum, eye cream, moisturizer, and sunscreen.
You don’t have to give up exfoliation because of the season — whether that means winter or, more poetically, a season of your life. The benefits of exfoliation apply to every skin type, as long as your skin care practice aligns with your environment, age, and the needs of your skin.
If you’d like a personalized recommendation for how often to exfoliate and which products would be best for you, schedule a consultation with me today. We’ll take a closer look at your skin type and the elements your skin is up against daily. I’ll also recommend rejuvenating, plant-based products for your skin.