By Kate Harvie
Every season, a trend emerges that is visually appealing (skinny jeans, thick false lashes, kitten heels). As excited and inspired by these as people are, sometimes they’re not possible (in no particular order: size, cost, application skill, comfort, what’s actually flattering).
And exfoliating the skin is one way that you can feel and look better with minimal effort and time. Read on for the whys you should and the hows you can exfoliate your facial skin.
I ushered in the New Year as a vegetarian and decided on January 1 to take the best care of my skin, regardless of stress. Exfoliation is key to this. While there are no rules for skincare (other than daily sun protection), the ideal exfoliation process is twice weekly on a clean face. With so many masks, peels, scrubs, and serums, I investigated some new and some classics. Before you learn about the products, here’s a review of why exfoliation is crucial.
A person’s body weight is 16% skin and while it protects us from exterior and environmental distress, it’s also an opportunity to look (and feel) great. Skin naturally replenishes new cells (in the deepest layer) and as they migrate to the visual surface, they discard what nourished them. These become dry, thin, and flat and sit on the skin’s surface. This natural, healthy process occurs regularly, with the cells shedding every 28 to 30 days in younger skin. In this case, “younger” means around age 35. Those who are 35 and older have a slower cell reproduction which can take as long as 60 days.
To look glowing and healthy while encouraging the cell reproduction and sustain collagen, elastin, and circulation, exfoliate twice a week. There are three different types of exfoliation:
• Enzymatic: absorbs dead skin cells (enzyme masks and scrubs)
• Manual: gently scrubs away dead skin cells (polyethylene beads, milled grains, nut extracts)
• Chemical: breaks down the bond that keeps dead skin cells on the surface (glycolic peels)
Note that proper exfoliation encourages your skin to behave as it should. This means bringing things to the surface. For example, when I exfoliated regularly last month, four blemishes emerged around my chin. They were gone in three days and left no marks or scars. Do not be afraid of this. Your skin needs to purge toxins and dead cells and the resulting skin looks great without makeup.
Here are some of the best available exfoliating products, divided into time usage categories. All work beautifully and you can decide which fits your life.
25 – 40 Minutes
OleHENRIKSEN micro/mini peel system
Known for powerful results with a gentle feel, Ole Henriksen is something of an icon in Los Angeles. His spa is the space where celebrities and locals flock to experience professional grade treatments in peaceful place. The products are all about balance, where alpha hydroxy and glycolic acids increase cellular turnaround while fatty acids calm, cushion, and comfort.
OleHENRIKSEN micro/mini peel system allows us to microdermabrade and peel at home. When you’ve completed the peel, your skin feels silky and smooth, firm and not tight. I have done it in the morning and looked so rested and fresh that I could skip my tinted moisturizer. My face was refined and soothed after completing this enzymatic, manual and chemical exfoliating process.
The kit encourages discipline: these are strongly formulated and thorough products. Three steps in generous sizes, accompanied by a measuring spatula, are performed like so:
1) Blend the almond polish™ between damp hands and massage onto your face for one to two minutes and then rinse thoroughly.
2) Scoop a small teaspoon of the lemon peel™ onto the palm of a hand and blend it between dry hands. Massage onto your face and neck and rest comfortably for two minutes.
3) Scoop a small teaspoon of chamomile comfort™ onto fingers and gently press on top of your face, which already has lemon strip™ on it. Relax somewhere for 20 to 30 minutes and then rinse thoroughly.
We have Charlize Theron, an OleHENRIKSEN spa client, to thank for the micro/mini peel system. She had experienced this microdermabrasion/peel at the Spa and requested a kit that would provide those results that she could take with her on travel.
Tata Harper Resurfacing Mask
In Vermont’s Champlain Valley, there is a 1200 acre farm where the raw ingredients that make up Tata Harper’s formulations are grown. Like the best meals, every product is made from scratch. It’s all about the most current scientific findings, 100% natural ingredients, and a brand that oversees all production and manufacturing.
The Resurfacing Mask is cool to the touch and has a gently sweet, soothing smell. All skin types can use this product. On a clean face, apply a generous layer of the mask all over and mellow out for 20 to 30 minutes. Rinse thoroughly with warm water.
When I completed the Resurfacing Mask, my face felt dewy and looked gently rosy. I wasn’t expecting that from a gel mask and in the cold winter months, my face is usually parched. It was the opposite after using this enzymatic exfoliator.
15 – 20 Minutes
Dermalogica Gentle Cream Exfoliant
This is an enzymatic exfoliator that is ideal for acne-prone and oily skins. While “gentle” and “cream” are not usually words used when describing products for these skin concerns, this Dermalogica product helps to balance oily skin and prevent breakouts. Stimulating cell renewal, loosening dead skin cells, and absorbing oil, the mask is applied to clean skin and rests there for 10 to 15 minutes before being rinsed off the face.
Gentle Cream Exfoliant includes Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHAs) and Beta Hydroxy Acids (BHAs). AHAs encourage dead skin cells to shed help to plump and firm skin. They work as water binders. BHAs dissolve oil, unblock pores, and work as antibacterial agents. A commonly used BHA is Salicylic Acid, which is one of the ingredients in Gentle Cream Exfoliant.
The mask feels as though it’s absorbed by your face. And when I rinsed it off, I felt my blemishes were a little more flat, they weren’t red, and they didn’t hurt. The rest of my face – unblemished – was smooth and firm.
3 – 7 Minutes
Tata Harper Regenerating Cleanser
Exfoliating cleansers can feel scratchy or acidic and they’re often formulated for acneic and oily skin. Tata Harper Regenerating Cleanser is geared for oily, combination and dry skin. As someone who breaks out like a teenager in the summer and has a completely parched face once it’s colder than 50° outside, the Regenerating Cleanser is ideal for my skin regardless of what the calendar says. This is an enzymatic exfoliator delivered as a cleanser.
Among the ingredients in this non-foaming cleanser are Neroli, Pomegranate Extract, White Willow Bark Extract, and Apricot Seed Powder. These help your face to look bright and fresh without drying. Cleansed pores and balanced skin are the results when you apply two to three pumps of cleanser to damp skin, rub gently to activate the enzymes, and rinse thoroughly with warm water.
Dr. Dennis Gross Alpha Beta Daily Face Peel
Of the dermatologist-created treatment products available to the public, one of the most effective and easy to commit to is Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare. The core item in the doctor’s collection is Alpha Beta Daily Face Peel, with 40(!) ingredients to combat aging and generate fast, long lasting results. This chemical exfoliator is easy to use and can be part of your daily routine or twice weekly. And it’s patented.
Two steps promote cell renewal, neutralize irritation, build collagen and elastin, and clear out pores. While Glycolic Acid and Retinol are key ingredients, Green Tea Extract, Chamomile, and Vitamin E encourage moisture and soothing.
When I tell you that this is easy to use, I’m not exaggerating. There are two steps and each is a pre-soaked cotton towelette.
1) Gently rub Step 1 in circular motions around your face (from forehead to neck) until the towelette feels dry. Wait 2 minutes.
2) Apply Step 2 the same way you did with Step 1. Don’t rinse or apply products with alcohol once you’ve stopped.
My face felt cool and smooth after the Alpha Beta® Daily Face Peel and with Glycolic and Retinol as key ingredients, it’s wonderful that the skin isn’t irritated or made red. I needed a magnifying glass to see my pores a week after completing the peel.
Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare Alpha Beta® Glow Pad
Calling all those who desire to look tan and are challenged by the bronzers and self-tanners that look artificial. Your solution is Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare Alpha Beta Glow Pad. Not only does it exfoliate the face, it imparts a natural looking tan that you can control. The longer you apply the chemical exfoliating treatment, the deeper your tan.
As someone whose face can resemble the center portion of a Wonder Bread slice, I am always looking for great self tanners. Multi-tasking and multi-purpose products are a dime a dozen in cosmetics. The Alpha Beta® Glow Pad over delivers in that it exfoliates, brightens, soothes, and makes the skin bronze.
Apply a pre-soaked wipe around the face, neck and décolleté in a circular motion. Customize your color by repeating the circular motions. Wash your hands immediately once done. Expect your tan to appear two hours after application.
Vitamin D has become a key supplement as we’ve learned more about heart health and cholesterol control. Turns out it’s a powerful ingredient in skincare and as one of the ingredients in Alpha Beta® Glow Pad, it delivers glow while helping other vitamins work better. It joins Vitamins A, C, and E as well as Glycolic and Lactic Acids in this product.
Dermalogica Daily Microfoliant
While exfoliating is recommended to occur twice each week, for those who want their skin to be its most smooth and bright every day (and who are not using medically prescribed exfoliating products), I want to introduce you to Dermalogica Daily Microfoliant. Ideal for all skin types, including sensitive, you make something of a paste with a half-teaspoon of this and tepid water and massage it into your face for one minute. Rinse with warm water and enjoy your soothed, awake skin. The minute goes by quickly and that’s all I needed to see a clear and smooth complexion.
Salicylic Acid, Colloidal Oatmeal, and Green Tea are familiar ingredients to those who are familiar with skincare. Rice enzymes provide some magic as they deliver a microexfoliation that removes debris. For those who tend to rub their skin aggressively, Daily Microfoliant is an ideal manual exfoliator.
Dermalogica Daily Resurfacer
For the person who has little time to take care of his/her skin and seeks a variety of results, it’s all about Daily Resurfacer. It brightens, reduces the appearance of dryness and lines, and boosts moisture. Every day, you’ll swipe this around your face and cover it with AHAs, BHAs, Roobois, Hyaluronic Acid and lots of other complex ingredients. An enzymatic exfoliator that is ideal for use between facials and other professional skincare treatments.
The applicators are kept in pouches and designed to be placed over the index finger. It’s like a perfectly knit mitten. Gently apply this around your clean face, focusing on any areas where you have more concerns. When you’re done, apply moisturizer or serum.
I wasn’t expecting my face to feel so smooth and for the place between my eyebrows (referred to by people as “the mean H”) to appear less rumpled. While I don’t use this every day, it is intended for daily use and it contains soothing ingredients to encourage daily use.
Tata Harper Rejuvenating Serum
It is said that the way you start your day sets the tone for the next 23 hours. If only healthy, lush skin could ensure a great day. Tata Harper Rejuvenating Serum would be the way to said skin. Before bed and when you wake up, one generous pump of the serum is enough for your face and neck and you will strengthen the skin, boost radiance, minimize the appearance of wrinkles and larger pores, and protect the cells. Plus it feels and smells warm and fresh.
Sodium Hyaluronate, Jasmine, Chamomile, Date Extract, and Menyanthes Flower are some of the powerful ingredients that will help all skin types be their best. The brand calls this a “wonder serum.” Rejuvenating Serum is an enzymatic exfoliator for all skin types. My skin was radiant.
However you decide to exfoliate your skin every week, remember that you’re just helping to make yourself more beautiful.
Find the products in the Manhattan/Brooklyn area:
OleHENRIKSEN http://www.olehenriksen.com/ and at Sephora.
Tata Harper Organic Avenue, SpaceNK, and tataharperskincare.com
Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare Sephora, Bliss57 and Bliss49, SpaceNK, Nickel Spa, Frederic Fekkai Salon Fifth Avenue, bluemercury, and http://www.dgskincare.com
Dermalogica http://www.dermalogica.com as well as Dermalogica Soho, bluemercury, and a range of spas and salons.