THE WINTER SOLSTICE isn’t even here, yet you say your skin looks dull? Dry? Flaky? Kind of bleh?
It sounds counterintuitive but exfoliation in the wintertime is imperative. It repairs and brightens the complexion. A gentle facial scrub, an alcohol-free glycolic or lactic acid serum, an at-home peel or a Clarisonic brush removes surface sun-damaged cells from summer (you remember summer, back when it was warm out) to encourage clearer, smoother, more even-toned skin.
What’s more, piling on heavy moisturizer over un-exfoliated skin can actually exacerbate the problem by sitting on top of the skin and clogging pores instead of being absorbed.
I consulted my favorite aesthetician, Renée Rouleau, to discuss the details. Then we’ll get to the best products.
GA: Renée, aside from cleaner, silkier skin, how can exfoliating benefit?
RR: Exfoliation can help manage post-summer breakouts. Incorporate a cleanser, mask or serum into your current skin care regimen that uses the ingredient salicylic acid. This miracle ingredient is a beta hydroxy acid (BHA) that gently penetrates oil-filled pores and exfoliates any dead cells that have built up inside to lessen blemishes.
GA: How often should we be exfoliating?
RR: For most skin types, a facial scrub should be used two to three times a week, an acid-based serum should be used for three nights on, three nights off under moisturizer, and an at-home skin peel should be used one to two times a month. Be sure to follow the instructions for product usage or consult with your skin care professional to determine the best type of exfoliants for your skin type.
GA: How about a Clarisonic?
RR: If you’re using a sonic cleansing brush daily to wash your skin, the physical action of the brush on the skin is similar to that of a facial scrub, so use one or the other, but only two to three times a week to avoid unnecessary skin irritation.
Some scrubs can be too wimpy. If they’re ultra-mild, it’s like nothing happens. On the other hand, no one wants to scour their face off. These are the best for each skin type.
Oily skin, clogged pores
Kat Burki Hibiscus Antioxidant Face Mask ($78, and the perfect exfoliator-mask hybrid)
Clarisonic Mia 3 Luxury Skincare Essentials Holiday Gift Set ($199; ideal for travel and includes five fab facial products)
Sensitive or dry skin
For the smoothest face, neck, and décolletage, an at-home peel once or twice a month complements exfoliating. All skins will love these.
Renée Rouleau Triple Berry Smoothing Peel ($86.50; resist the urge to eat it)
Dr. Dennis Gross Alpha Beta Medi-Spa Peel ($110 for 16 treatments, plus a handy headband)