The Secret To Getting Perfectly Even Skin

Without a doubt, exfoliation is a vital part of keeping skin healthy, clear, smooth and glowing. While physical exfoliation — facial scrubs, facial brushes, or anything that you manually roll across the skin — are beneficial, the introduction of acids, particularly exfoliating acids Alpha Hydroxy Acids and Beta Hydroxy Acids, has been one of the biggest advancements in skincare to date. Because of the smoother texture that results from AHAs and BHAs, they're continually used in many products that improve multiple skin conditions like brown spots, acne scars, large pores, fine lines, and wrinkles.
So, how can you be sure you're using the right exfoliating acid for your skin, especially if you're sensitive? Although exfoliation can result in tremendous improvement of the skin, it's important to use them in a safe way to avoid over-exfoliation and unnecessary irritation. Click through for my helpful tips to ensure you’re getting the best results from exfoliating acids.
When it comes to our faces, we don’t rely on just anyone to tell us what our skin needs to get that ever-elusive glow. Instead, we turn to skin-care veteran (and celebrity fave!) Renée Rouleau, who knows it takes more than the right products to get radiant. Each week, she’ll be serving up her expert tips to keep your complexion in tip-top shape.
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Illustrated by Anna Sudit.
Perform A Patch Test
If you have sensitive skin, always perform a patch test for compatibility prior to using any new products — especially exfoliating acids. The best place to patch test acids is on the side of the face near the ear, so if there's a negative reaction, it can be hidden easily. As much as this seems obvious, be sure you follow the directions on the jar or bottle. Wait 24 hours, and if there isn’t a negative reaction, you’re all set to use the product regularly. As a note, when acids are applied to the skin, a tingling sensation is normal but should subside shortly after once moisturizer is applied. If the tingling turns to pain, wash it off immediately.
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Illustrated by Anna Sudit.
Use At Night
It's no secret that exfoliants increase sun sensitivity significantly. Acids that are left on the skin for extended periods of time like moisturizers and serums — this excludes those that are rinsed off after use — should only be used at night. Acids often yield better results at night because your skin is primed for repair mode.
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Illustrated by Anna Sudit.
Use Acids For Your Skin Type
Exfoliating acids are often available in different strengths. And, while many often gravitate to the stronger percentage thinking it will give them better and faster results, it’s definitely possible to overdo it and cause oversensitivity. Be sure to know your skin type and the results you want to see to determine the strength of the acid to use.
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Illustrated by Anna Sudit.
Do Not Use Daily
Acids that are left on the skin like acid-based serums or moisturizers should not be used on a daily basis. Research continues to show that when the skin is exfoliated daily, the inflammation created — even if it's not visible — can accelerate the aging process. Instead of overdoing it, use an exfoliating serums three nights on, then three nights off, alternating with a hydrating skin serum. The idea behind this routine is that for the first three nights, the exfoliating acid continues to work deeper within the skin every night that it is applied. Then, after three nights, when the skin is well exfoliated, use a hydrating serum to feed the “new” cells with nourishment by use of performance ingredients.
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Illustrated by Anna Sudit.
Cut Down On Mechanical Cleansing Brushes
While manufacturers often recommend you use their cleansing brushes twice a day, I recommend you cut that down significantly to three times a week, especially if you're using exfoliating acids. That amount of manual exfoliation is too aggressive for most skin types.
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Illustrated by Anna Sudit.
Use As Directed
It seems like a no-brainer, but it's crucial to follow the directions with any exfoliating acid. Many clients of mine have complained that acids have irritated them or caused sever breakouts, but it was often because they were using the product too frequently. Always use as directed by the instructions on the bottle or by a trusted skin care professional.
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Illustrated by Anna Sudit.
Discontinue If Necessary
It is so important to listen to your skin. And, while it can be a bit tricky to discern discomfort from diligence with acids, a tingling sensation is normal. It's a prolonged burning sensation or continued redness with the skin that you have to be wary of. If a product causes serious discomfort, discontinue use immediately and consult a trusted skin care professional.
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Illustrated by Anna Sudit.
Use Calming Antioxidants
Even if your skin never looks red, inflammation is known to be the underlying cause of aging and can work against your intention to achieve smoother-looking skin. This is especially true if you're using many exfoliating products in your routine. Look for moisturizers and masks with calming ingredients like green tea, chamomile, bisabolol, algae extract, grapeseed extract, white tea, or licorice extract.

NEXT: Are You Listening To Your Skin?