How To Exfoliate For Your Skin Type, According To Dermatologists

Illustrated by Minn Hannah.
The Starbucks holiday menu. Dinner at your in-laws'. John Mayer. Facial exfoliation. Sure, these things seem straightforward enough at first, but man, do they become infinitely more complicated once you get a little closer.
The first three don't exactly come with instruction manuals, but luckily, that last one can be understood with a little help from a dermatologist — like Beverly Hills-based doc Ava Shamban, MD. Dr. Shamban tells us that the simple step of exfoliating the skin can do a lot for your routine. "Exfoliation addresses both irregular texture from erratic cell turnover, eliminates debris and dead skin cells, and creates a smoother skin surface for better penetration of actives, more effective hydration, and an easier makeup application," she says. Nothing not to like there.
But when we get into the when and how of exfoliation, a few more questions arise. Though regular exfoliation may seem more urgent during sticky summers, when you can practically feel your sweat-clogged pores, Dr. Shamban tells us it's vital to sweep away dead skin cells no matter what the weather. "Skin cell turnover may become sluggish in the winter," she says. "With a boost from exfoliation, cells are kept vibrant."
Then there's the matter of frequency: Some skin types benefit from a strong dose of alpha- or beta-hydroxy acids every other day, while others are better suited for a light, gentle physical exfoliant just once or twice a week. So where do you fall on the exfoliation spectrum? The experts break it down, ahead.
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