When NOT To Exfoliate

We're always down to slough the dead skin cells off of our faces. Exfoliating feels great — but is it always a great idea? According to Sean Patrick Harrington, skin-care expert and Founder/CEO of Previse Skincare, the answer to that question is a firm no. It's super easy to over exfoliate, and whether you're scrubbing too hard or too often, it can lead to irritation and increased sensitivity. "The key is to caress the skin, not treat it abrasively," he says.
Eric Schweiger, M.D., dermatologist and founder of Clear Clinic Acne Treatment Centers maintains, "Natural, manual exfoliation occurs anytime you wash your face, just by the nature of rubbing your skin with your hands or a washcloth." So, you might not actually need an additional chemical or manual exfoliant, especially if your skin is dry and flaky, says Dr. Schweiger. Another reason not to exfoliate? "If you are already using products containing salicylic acid, glycolic acid, or a retinol, then there is no need to introduce additional exfoliation to the skin, as those ingredients are already speeding up cell turnover and helping the skin shed its top layer," he says.
The goal of exfoliation, Harrington says, "Is to remove some keratin-laden cells from the surface of your skin — not all." And, in fact, it's those very cells that protect our skin from the environment, so it's important just to get rid of the extra ones. He recommends exfoliating three times weekly — and no more than four times in a seven-day period.
Both of our experts agree that if you are exfoliating, be sure to moisturize immediately after. We're recently obsessed with Previse Skincare's Hydrobalm, especially for those ultra-sensitive dry patches. Here's to smoother skin — this winter, we'll take all the tips we can get.
Dermalogica Exfoliating Face Brush, $18, available at Dermalogica.

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