Each season brings a wonderful opportunity to examine your skin’s needs and make any needed adjustments. Exfoliation is crucial in our skincare regimen. Being that there are so many misconceptions about how and why to exfoliate, I thought a fall-themed facial scrub and a few tips and tricks would be the perfect accompaniment to transition to autumn.
Why do we need to exfoliate? Dead skin, makeup, oil and free radicals (another term for the yucky pollutants in our air) all take a serious toll on our skin. In fact, as we age we have a slower and slower self-exfoliation rate. When we are kids, our skin does a fabulous job of sloughing off those layers. But as we get older, it gets tougher for our skin to do the job on its own. What happens is our pores end up getting clogged, and our top layers get dull and thick, creating unevenness in our skin tones. So we exfoliate to help our skin do its job!
What Do I Use to Exfoliate?
There are two types of ways we can exfoliate, chemical and physical. Chemical exfoliation uses products with alpha hydroxy acids in them, such as glycolic acid or lactic acid, to help break down the bonds that hold our dead skin cells together. Sometimes you will find them in peels, serums, or even in a facial moisturizer. Physical exfoliation is when we use things to slough off the dead skin, like a scrub. Both are great to have in our weekly routines since they serve different purposes. I recommend to my facial clients using a physical exfoliant (scrub) about 2-3 times a week. I also like to recommend a chemical exfoliant (alpha hydroxy—all dependent on their age, skin type, sensitivity) to use several times a week as well.
What’s the Right Way to Exfoliate?
For a physical exfoliation you’ll want to start with a clean face. It doesn’t have to be dry if you’ve just washed your face. Take some scrub in your fingertips and wet your hands slightly. Using your pinky and ring fingers only, gently move in circular motions around your face, avoiding your eye area. If you are using a scrub that is designed for the body or has salt in it, do not use it on your face. If a scrub is too abrasive it can leave tiny scratches on your skin or break blood vessels. You do not need any extra pressure for the scrub, just moving the scrub around your face is plenty of pressure to get the job done. Wash off with warm water and follow with a moisturizer.
Chemical exfoliants need to be carefully applied based on the product’s instructions. Be sure you’ve done a test patch either on the inside of your elbow or behind your ear. If the peel recommends only 5-10 minutes, don’t assume that leaving it on 10-20 means it’ll work better. Follow the directions on your serum or moisturizer as well. Some chemical exfoliants are to be used for a few minutes and washed off, others are designed to be applied and left on, like a serum. So read your labels!
Now let’s get to work making our own autumn scrub!
Pumpkin Spice Facial Scrub
- 1 cup brown sugar (the finer the better)
- 1/2 cup jojoba oil for oily skin, or 1/2 cup coconut oil for dry/normal skin
- 1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
- oil from a few vitamin E capsules, or 1/2 teaspoon vitamin E oil
Combine all of the ingredients in a bowl and mix well. Apply to clean skin using your ring and pinky fingertips and warm water. Gently move the scrub around your face and neck, avoiding the eye area. Once you’ve done a few rotations over your face, rinse with warm water. Remember, the lighter the pressure the better!148