"Exfoliation is the best therapeutic skin care treatment that you can do at home to get healthier, more radiant and younger-looking skin (along with SPF)," says Dr. Neal Schultz, New York City dermatologist, host of DermTV and creator of BeautyRx by Dr. Schultz. "It makes other skin care products apply and penetrate better into skin. It helps remove unwanted brown discolorations and evens skin tone. It helps treat and prevent ingrown hairs. It helps self-tanner apply smoother. It helps lessen the need for makeup (when your skin is glowing, you don't need to mask it with foundation) and causes makeup to go on with an airbrush finish. It reduces the oil content (the root cause of acne) in your skin and helps prevent breakouts (even hormonal/menstrual) and makes existing breakouts heal faster. It also reduces the appearance of enlarged pores." Convinced yet?
One note of caution: it's key to correctly exfoliate or else you risk your skin becoming irritated and/or inflamed. Every dermatologist we've spoken to agreed that chemical exfoliation with acids like glycolic, lactic or salicylic, is the way to go. You'll see results immediately and these acids come in the form of cleansers, masks, moisturizers, serums or pads.
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How Chemical Exfoliants Work
It's also worth noting that, contrary to popular belief, you make the same number of new dead cells every season, so exfoliating is something that should be done year round. If you're looking to exfoliate every day, go for a low concentration of acids or products that specifically state they are meant for everyday use.
Remember, not all acids have the same strength. There are two categories: AHAs (alpha hydroxy acids like glycolic and lactic acids) and BHAs (beta hydroxy acids like salicylic acid). Glycolic acid is the gold standard in chemical exfoliants with the others being weaker. With that in mind, BHAs are usually preferred for those with acne-prone and very sensitive skin or rosacea. They're also a good place to start if you have no experience using chemical exfoliators. For the experienced user, however, AHAs are the way to go.
Click through for the best chemical exfoliants to try now.
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Dr. Dennis Gross Alpha Beta Exfoliating Moisturizer, $68
Peter Thomas Roth 8% Glycolic Solutions Toner, $40
Bliss That's Incredipeel, $22