Exfoliating your face in moderation can make skin brighter and softer. Buffing away dry, dead cells on your face will reveal the fresh cells underneath, but exfoliants are definitely not for everyone. People with skin issues such as hives or sensitive skin should check with their dermatologist before considering using these types of products. New York City dermatologist Dr. David A. Colbert, suggests exfoliating to help maintain the youthful glow to your face. "Exfoliating helps fights against aging because it stimulates blood and lymph flow and cell turnover. As we age, cell turn over slows down and your skin can start to look dull. If you want that Michelle Williams or Adriana Lima [Dr. Colbert's patients] glow to your face, exfoliate!" says Dr. Colbert.
I didn't start to exfoliate until I hit my college years and my face went into berzerk mode. I began to break out with cystic acne on my forehead and my dermatologist recommended exfoliating. But Dr. Colbert says that there isn't a one step plan or product for everyone. "How often you exfoliate depends on your age and skin texture. Younger people tend to have oilier skin and will be able handle more scrubbing. People with more mature skin will have a thinner epidermis and will need to do less with a proper product catered to their skin type."
Too much of anything isn't good for you. I did a big skin care no-no and scrubbed my face every day—my skin felt raw and looked constantly appeared sunburned. Dr. Colbert recommends exfoliating two to three times a week max, depending on your skin type. "Someone with eczema or dry skin should not be exfoliating more than someone who has oily skin. You will be able to gauge how your skin is reacts to scrubs and create your own exfoliating regimen. If you do over-scrub your face, stop immediately and let your skin heal."
There are a range of different types of exfoliators so it's sometimes overwhelming knowing which type is most suitable for yourself. Dr. Colbert breaks down different types and gives his suggestions on his favorite ones:
Physical cream exfoliators Cream scrubs contain micro-beads in a moisturizing cream or lotion base, and are great for people with dry skin. Just be wary when choosing with the type of beads in the creams. Some contain sharped-edged beads that can leave micro-scratches on your skin, so look for creamy exfoliators that have rounded beads instead. Dr. Colbert recommends Boscia Smoothing Facial Polish.
Physical gel exfoliators Gel scrubs give the same results as cream scrubs but are in gel form so they are better for oily and combination skin types. Dr. Colbert recommends Biotherm Biosource Clarifying Exfoliating Gel.
Chemical exfoliators These exfoliators use glycolic, lactic, citric, or salicylic acid to chemically remove dead cells on the surface of the skin, which is also good for people with oily skin. If you have never used a chemical exfoliator before, start using it only once or twice a week, at night—once your skin adjusts, you can increase the number of times used per week. Dr. Colbert recommends NeoStrata Foaming Glycolic Wash.
Cloth or pad exfoliators These gentle manual exfoliators are meant to cater to all skin types, except for people with skin issues. They can also help with acne problems, fine lines and hyperpigmentation. Like any manual scrub, always follow product instructions and be careful not to go overboard. Dr. Colbert recommends ColbertMD Intensify Facial Disk. "Naomi Campbell is a client of mine and she uses these gentle disks to exfoliate her face, neck and hands," he says.