Dry skin, especially in the winter, can need a little extra love as far as a skincare routine. Part of that routine should definitely include exfoliation. I know it can be an easy step to skip since you won’t be doing it daily. But it is such an important and effective step (if done correctly and with the correct products) that it will really up your skincare game. I am going to share with you everything you need to know about exfoliation plus the best exfoliators for dry skin.
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Why Exfoliation Should Be A Part Of Your Skin Care Routine
There are so many reasons to make sure exfoliation is a part of your skincare routine!
Exfoliation is the process of removing excess corneocyte (dead skin cell) buildup.
Here are just some of those reasons why you would want to do this on a regular basis:
- As we age, our skin’s regeneration process slows down, and our skin cells don’t turn over as quickly. As a result, skin becomes more ruddy and dull looking. To combat this, gentle exfoliation will help to slough off those dead skin cells, and give you that radiant complexion, because you’re revealing the freshest cells.
- Your skincare product actually is more effective when regular exfoliation is done. Imagine if your skin never gets exfoliated, and is just sitting in it’s own pile of dead skin cells? Sounds gross huh?! Then when you try to put the product on it’s not as effective because the old skin is getting in the way.
- It also helps get rid of buildup of oils and dirt, which can turn into blackheads if left alone.
- Helps improve skin texture and appearance, including fine lines, wrinkles and hyperpigmentation.
If this whole chat hasn’t convinced you of the importance of exfoliation, then maybe this will. After exfoliation makeup goes on smoother, because all the dead skin is gone. Are you seeing why it’s so important to exfoliate?
Exfoliation Tips and Tricks For Dry Skin
Now that you know why it’s so important to exfoliate, let’s discuss how to properly do it. I know this may sound elementary to a lot of people, but trust me when I say it’s not! I’ve seen too many people actually make their skin worse with exfoliation, versus better.
- Be gentle to your skin! Don’t scrub your face like you’re getting a stain out of carpet…you’ll scratch your face and cause some serious damage. I’ve seen it time and time again as an esthetician, where clients would come in and their skin was raw! An exfoliant generally has some sort of gritty texture or property to it-it’s what gets rid of those dead skin cells. So you don’t need to add any more than a little light pressure to your skin as you move your hands in small circular motions. The exfoliant is doing the work, so you don’t have to!
- Don’t over exfoliate – for most, no more than 1-2 times per week. Know your skin and follow its lead. Maybe you only need it once per week. Experiment a bit to find your sweet spot. However, I would not recommend more than 2 times if you’re using a gritty scrub. Any more than that and you could be disrupting your skin’s natural balance.
- Moisturize after your exfoliate. Again, this may seem obvious. But you need to add hydration back into your skin after removing the dead skin cells and debris.
- Use sunscreen after your exfoliate. I could definitely argue that this is something you should always be doing to protect your skin. However after you have exfoliated your skin is more prone to skin damage, so all the more important to protect your freshly exfoliated skin.
- Choose an exfoliant that suits your skin type! Some are going to need super gentle exfoliants and others can use a stronger exfoliant. Make sure to use what works best for you.
Types of Exfoliators
The topic of exfoliation can get a little confusing when you realize there are different types out there. And depending on your skin type you may want to choose one over the other.
Mechanical versus Chemical Exfoliants
Generally speaking exfoliants are broken into 2 types. You can choose from mechanical or chemical exfoliants. First, a mechanical exfoliant uses some sort of physical product to remove the dead skin cells. Think of grains or seeds. Whereas chemical exfoliants use enzymes and acids that will dissolve the dead skin cell build up. These types of exfoliants you will see list things like AHA and BHA. A lot of peels are considered chemical exfoliants.
AHA vs BHA
Alpha Hydroxy Acids(AHA’s) or Beta Hydroxy Acids(BHA’s) are two categories of exfoliating acids (chemical exfoliants). They can be used separately for different purposes or in combination. Examples of probably the most well known AHA’s include lactic acid and glycolic acid whereas salicylic acid is considered a BHA.
AHA’s are not as strong as BHA’s. They are water soluble so work more on the surface of the skin versus BHA’s are oil soluble and able to penetrate into your pores. For dry skin, I typically recommend AHA exfoliants since they’re more mild.
Glycolic Acid vs. Lactic Acid vs Salicylic Acid
Lactic acid is a more mild Alpha Hydroxy Acid(AHA). It is found in the body and it’s primary job is to help with skin’s dullness. However, it has been shown to help firm and plump the skin too, which is an added bonus! Glycolic acid is also an Alpha Hydroxy Acid(AHA) but it’s one of the stronger AHA’s. It helps with dullness as well, but can also be a great anti-aging skincare acid helping with fine lines and wrinkles. It has also been shown to help with blemishes and hyperpigmentation caused from past blemishes by increasing collagen and hyaluronic acid production in the skin. Salicylic Acid is a Beta Hydroxy Acid(BHA). It penetrates pores which makes it a great option for those with acne prone or oily skin.
Enzyme exfoliants are even more gentle than the exfoliating acids talked about above. They are typically the perfect type of exfoliant to be used for those with sensitive skin. Enzyme exfoliants will still slough off dead skin cells, but because they are more gentle, they aren’t able to promote the cell turnover that an AHA/BHA exfoliant can. Enzyme exfoliants will have ingredients like papaya, pomegranate, pineapple, etc. These fruits contain the enzymes that are the active ingredient that will slough off the dead skin cells.
What type of exfoliator is best for dry skin?
The exfoliant best for dry skin is a chemical AHA like lactic or glycolic acid. Mechanical exfoliants can be too irritating for dry skin often. With an AHA you can use less strength and have a more mild exfoliating effect, so skin isn’t irritated. Lactic acid specifically in the AHA category is going to be the best option for those who are looking for something to be as gentle or mild as possible. That all being said, I am sharing a variety of types of exfoliants in my top picks so hopefully you will find one that works best for your skin!
Should you exfoliate everyday if you have dry skin?
I generally exfoliate twice a week. People can over exfoliate, creating disruptions to their natural pH. If you have sensitive skin, once a week may be all you need. When you over exfoliate you actually can irritate your skin and cause tiny cracks. This leads to inflammation and more dryness. Don’t use too much force when you exfoliate either, gently circular motions is all you need.
The Best Face Exfoliators for Dry Skin
This smells amazing, like your favorite berry jam. It does wonders to awaken the skin and gently exfoliate with enzymes. Say goodbye to dull looking skin with this baby. The ingredients again are so good. Raw honey, Aronia Berry, Blackberry, Raspberry, and an Orange Blossom Enfleurage, are just a few that make this mask truly decadent. Not only does my skin look brighter, and more even after using, but I love knowing that it’s fighting signs of anti-aging too with all the antioxidants in it. This is a cult favorite from Laurel’s line and for good reason! It is definitely a more gentle exfoliator as it is an enzyme exfoliant. Not only will it gently exfoliate, but it will add hydration to your skin that visibly plumps and firms. Get it here!
This mask began my love affair with Live Botanical. I love it! It makes my skin glow in minutes- no joke! I apply it all over in the morning and then grab my toothbrush and then rinse off once I’m done brushing my teeth. It feels so hydrating and soothing to the skin. It gives a slight exfoliation too with herbal grains. The raw honey in this mask draws moisture to the skin while soaking up all the excess oils at the same time. What I love is that this mask can be used daily as a cleanser or as a mask a couple times a week. It really lives up to its name: Glowing Mask. I promise you won’t be disappointed! I can’t get enough of this decadent skin treat! Get it here and use code GURLGONEGREEN for 20% off your purchase!
I love this nourishing exfoliant. It doesn’t strip the skin, but instead your skin feels balanced. The jojoba beads gently help to exfoliate the skin or as Pai describes it ‘gently buff the skin’, while not drying it out. It’s a gel formula that turns into a milky creamy consistency. Especially great for skin that is not only dry but may also be sensitive. Get it here!
I love this mask! If you want to see a noticeable difference the minute you take off your mask, then this is it. I had heard people rave about it in the green beauty community for quite some time and let’s just say it did not disappoint. The resurfacing mask is a gel-like substance that looks clear when applied. You leave it on for 30 minutes and bam, you’re left with that lit from within glow. I love doing this in the morning before I put on my makeup. It literally exfoliates and removes the dead skin cells, all while minimizing pores and redness (it is formulated with BHA’s and enzymes). You are left with revitalized skin. It’s really more of a peel than a mask. I use it once a week. It is suitable for all skin types, but if you do have sensitive skin I would patch test before trying. Doesn’t feel drying on the skin. Get it here!
This mask gets you glowing in 3 minutes flat- just like the name suggests. It’s perfect for the most sensitive skin types. Worried your skin might react to a harsh exfoliant? This may be the one for you. Using enzymes to dissolve dead skin cells, this mask does it all in 3 minutes! It looks like a gel and feels light and refreshing on the skin. If you’re perpetually running late, this may be the mask for you too- I mean who doesn’t have 3 minutes?! I put it on before I brush my teeth and rinse off once I’m done. The perfect amount of time to get a quick glow for the rest of the day. Get it here!
The Best Body Exfoliators for Dry Skin – Reviews
You definitely don’t want to forget to exfoliate the skin on your body! I have two amazing picks for body exfoliants for dry skin.
OSEA Salts of The Earth Body Scrub
Talk about a scrub! This body scrub doesn’t mess around. It is filled with Dead Sea and Himalayan Pink Salts, Bolivian Rose and Organic seaweed of course. Plus, it boasts some Acai, shea butter and passionfruit that leave your skin feeling like butter. I applied to wet skin and used circular motions. My skin felt so refreshed and clean! Sometimes we focus on facial exfoliation but our body needs great exfoliation as well! Get it here and use code gurlgonegreen10 to save 10% off your purchase!
This body polish is also from OSEA but it’s a little more gentle overall. Great for skin that’s extra dry and sensitive. It is creamy in consistency but yet strong enough to remove and exfoliate unwanted dry skin. After using it my skin looks slightly pink and plump. It takes dull skin and gives it a good polish, revealing the brightest and prettiest skin. Upon opening it, you’re greeted with scents of lavender and Sweet Melissa. It awakens your senses and revitalizes your whole body. It exfoliates the skin with powdery grains of pumice, acai, and guarana. I get my body wet first, and then apply the body polish and use circular motions to rub it in. A serious skin treat! Get it here and use code gurlgonegreen10 to save 10% off your purchase!
And there you have it! Everything you ever wanted to know about exfoliation plus some amazing clean beauty exfoliants that will do wonders for your dry skin.
What’s your favorite exfoliant for dry skin?
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