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Style & Living Beauty

You're Exfoliating All Wrong! An A-List Dermatologist Reveals How to Get It Right

BTW, you can get the job done for less than $10.

By Katherine Kluznik

If there’s one step in your beauty regimen that makes all the difference between looking like Chrissy Tiegen and, well, me after two solid nights of no sleep, it’s exfoliation — just ask a dermatologist.

“Exfoliating helps enhance radiance. As cells accumulate, they interfere with light reflection off the skin, making it look dull,” says Joshua Zeichner, M.D., director of cosmetic and clinical research in the Department of Dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City.

Radiance, of course, is just the first on the exfoliation’s list of admirable traits … There’s the way it helps all those creams and serums you spent a week’s wages on penetrate better, since they’re no longer wasting effort trying to soak into dead cells... And of course, there's how it actually ticks back the clock a bit by signaling cells that it’s time to get back the job — there’s collagen-building to be done!

“Regular exfoliation — done around once a week — strengthens the skin, meaning that over time skin may have fewer wrinkles than it would have developed otherwise,” Dr. Zeichner explains.

That said, for all its pluses, exfoliating the wrong way can do far more harm than good.

“The biggest mistake I see is someone thinking that if a little bit of exfoliation is good, then a lot of exfoliation is even better,” says Dr. Zeichner. The flaw in this line of thinking: “Over-exfoliation can lead to skin inflammation and barrier disruption — and this then leads to red, angry skin that’s irritated and sensitive.”

Lucky for all of us living in 2018, there’s no shortage of at-home gadgets, washes, and scrubs that strike the right balance between effective and gentle. And you can shop six totally-worth-it options recommended by Dr. Zeichner below.

Trophy Skin Labelle Ultrasonic Skin Spatula

“Unlike traditional microdermabrasion devices, this spatula lifts off dirt and oil from skin and may even help clear out pores,” says Dr. Zeichner. It uses ultrasound technology (yes, sound waves) to loosen dead skin and debris, extracting blackheads in the process.

CeraVe Renewing SA Cleanser

There are two main categories of exfoliators: physical (anything with scrubby beads) and chemical, like this one, which uses natural acids to get the job done. “Salicylic acid helps dissolve connections between dead cells on the surface of the skin so they can be gently removed,” he explains.

Foreo Luna

“This vibrating sponge helps more effectively cleanse your face — especially when you pair it with an exfoliating cleanser,” Dr. Zeichner says. Apply a gently wash like CeraVe SA (you know, the one we just talked about above), turn on the nubby device and smooth it over skin. Rinse and you’re done.

Neutrogena Microdermabrasion System

Considering that a single in-office microdermabrasion treatment can set you back around $100, it makes sense to DIY it. “This gentle, manual exfoliation device offers reliable results without breaking the bank,” notes Dr. Zeichner.

Dermaflash Facial Exfoliating Device

“Technically, this device is what we call a dermaplaning device. Not only does it help exfoliate dead cells but it also removes unwanted hair from the skin,” says Dr. Zeichner, making it perfect for managing that dusting of down on your jawline also know as ‘peach fuzz.’

Dove Body Polish Pomegranate and Shea Butter

Of course, your face isn’t the only place on your body covered in skin that needs sloughing. “This body polish offers gentle, manual exfoliation using pomegranate seed powder, while maintaining skin hydration and skin barrier function,” says Dr. Zeichner.

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