If your skincare regimen is limited to a quick face wash and then some post-shower moisturizer, you're missing a crucial step: exfoliation. Yeah, you’ve probably heard of it.
What It Does
Simply put, this stuff sloughs off dead skin cells to reveal the newer skin below.
That's good because all those dead skin cells, if left to sit on your face, make Jack a dull boy. Literally. They look don't reflect light like newly formed skin does, so scrubbing 'em away will help make your face look bright and clean.
Beyond making your face look blah, those dead cells accumulate in pores—both on your face and body—and trap oil, which leads to breakouts. So if you're fed up with acne, this is definitely something you should be working into your routing.
Why It's Not Just For Your Face
And it’s not just your mug that benefits from a good slough — the scalp isn't exempt from the unattractive consequences of skin cell build-up, either. You've probably seen those unsightly flakes sprinkled on your dark colored shirt from time to time, also known as dandruff. Truth is, that's just dead skin that's flaking off on its own because you haven't scrubbed it away.
Exfoliating up top helps prevent you from publicly embarrassing yourself (or having to always wear white shirts) while clearing out follicles, which translates to a healthier head of hair.
The Two Types
Now back to the basics. There are two different methods of exfoliation: mechanical and chemical.
Mechanical exfoliation sounds like you'd need power tools, we know, but it's a lot less intimidating than that. These products are usually called a scrub, and consists of particles that physically remove the dead skin cells. If you're gonna go this road, stick to natural exfoliating ingredients like walnut shells and seeds, rather than plastic microbeads that do serious environmental damage after you wash 'em away. And avoid anything that's really, really coarse, since too much roughness will scratch up your skin and do more harm than good. You want something that's just slightly gritty.
Chemical exfoliation, sometimes also called a peel, uses natural acids and fruit enzymes to clear away the cells, while also helping to cut down on excess oil. They're not coarse like mechanical exfoliating products are — instead, you rub on a smooth product until it starts to ball up with the dead skin cells it's lifting off your face.
Whatever your preference, use it two or three times a week for maximum effect without an irritation factor. Too much of a good thing is possible.
Your New Routine
For the smoothest possible finish, we suggest a head-to-toe routine every once in a while when you want to feel extra fresh.
Start in the shower by massaging your head with a pre-shampoo exfoliating scalp treatment, and using an exfoliating shower gel or bar soap from your feet to your shoulders, focusing on the tough bits on your ankles, elbows and knees. If your feet are in particularly rough shape, consider taking a pumice stone to them.
After you use your normal face wash, work a scrub into your skin or apply a peel and leave it on for a few minutes. And If you’ve got bumps on the back of your arms or legs (known as keratosis pilaris, if you want to get technical), you might want to go ahead and slather on a lactic acid body lotion.
Get into the habit, even if it's just a quick scrub whenever you have an extra few seconds to spare in your morning routine, and you’ll be a better (looking) man for it.