How Often Should You Really Be Exfoliating?
Second to that insanely smooth texture post-facial, there's no better feeling than freshly exfoliated skin, but when your complexion starts getting a little raw after scrubbing everyday, consider it proof that you can have too much of a good thing. "If your skin is very irritated, has visibile redness, or is tight, dry, or flaking, these are signs you are over-exfoliating," says skin therapist Ildi Pekar. "It may feel like that gritty scrub is polishing up dull skin, but using rough exfoliators can be causing more harm than good, resulting in broken capillaries and irritation. Raw skin can also become infected if you don't follow up with a soothing moisturizer." Generally speaking, Pekar recommends reaching for your favorite scrub no more than twice a week, although, depending on the season, weather conditions, and how much makeup you wear, you may be able to get away with one extra session. Don't get too aggressive, though, and make sure you immediately top off your skin with a nourishing serum or moisturizer.
Exfoliating serums, like enzyme or alpha hydroxy acid-based formulas, are another option to help slough away dead skin without irritation, and are gentle enough to be used nightly. "You can never go wrong with an exfoliating serum because you can do it more often without the risk of irritating your skin, or causing broken capillaries," Pekar adds. "I would recommend a gentle enzyme serum for all skin types, and if you have consistent buildup, you can use it more frequently during the week." Of course, it's all about moderation. When you're planning to use a scrub, leave the exfoliating serum out of your routine, and vice-versa. Although the serums aren't as aggressive, you don't want to pile more onto your skin than it can handle.