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Exfoliation Dos and Don'ts

Exfoliation is a key element in a successful skin care routine, but it must be done appropriately and only when needed or it can be harmful instead. Here are some hints to help you know when to exfoliate and when not to.

Don't Overdo It

Exfoliating cleansers should be used regularly, but not daily. Exfoliating too soon after a prior exfoliation session can actually irritate the new skin that you just exposed. You can counteract the effect a little by using a more gentle exfoliant; sugar scrubs and kaolin-based exfoliating cleansers are less irritating than exfoliants with abrasives such as nut meal. However, you should still only exfoliate occasionally; twice a week is about as often as a face should be scrubbed heavily. Between exfoliation sessions, wash with your bare hands or a soft cloth and a non-abrasive, moisturizing cleanser.

Never Exfoliate Irritated Skin

By the same token, since exfoliation is slightly irritating to the skin, never exfoliate when you're sunburned, breaking out, or your skin is otherwise irritated. It will make it worse, and can even lead to injury or scarring. When your skin is irritated, use a soft cloth to loosen and remove dead skin rather than using an exfoliating product so your skin has some time to recover from whatever is wrong with it. The same holds true if you have any cuts or any other kind of broken skin. You may disturb the healing process with overenthusiastic cleaning.

Use A Natural Exfoliant

Look carefully at your cleanser before you buy it. Most exfoliants have particles made with ground nut shells, kaolin clay, salt, or sugar; these natural components are safe for your skin because they are gentle and not overly hard. Exposure to water softens or dissolves them, making their edges less sharp and abrasive. If the bits in your exfoliating cleanser are a strange color such as purple or blue, they are likely to be made of tiny plastic grains. These can be very harmful to your face, because they tend to have hard, sharp edges that cut into your skin rather than gently rubbing away the dead skin cells on top of it. The result of using one of these is having a face that feels tender and raw, because it will actually scrape away a layer of living skin. Plastic exfoliants accelerate the aging process while irritating your skin, so avoid them at without any exceptions.

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