Even normal skin deserves regular rejuvenation, particularly during winter months. But because overprocessing your skin can cause breakouts, don’t exfoliate more than twice a week.
Hydrate winter skin with the coconut and sunflower oils in Burt’s Bees Lemon Poppy Seed Facial Cleanser, or try Avalon Organics Lavender Exfoliating Enzyme Scrub, with its smooth base of crushed walnut shells and grapeseed powder. The lava rock in Nature’s Gate Microdermabrasion Skin Refining System sounds rough, but this water-based mousse has a surprisingly subtle texture.
Dry or sensitive skin
If you have dry or sensitive skin, preserve the natural oils by not washing your face before you exfoliate, says Laura DuPriest, a cosmetologist and aesthetician in Sacramento, California. Exfoliate once a week or every other week with very gentle scrubs, and don’t overwork the skin. Thirty seconds to a minute does the trick, she says. Look for fragrance-free products that contain smaller, smoother granules and light, easily absorbable oils, such as saffron, canola, or grapeseed. Avoid high concentrations of salts and citrus fruit acid, which can aggravate sensitive, sunburned, or chapped skin. Afterward, dab on a soothing moisturizer that contains aloe, chamomile, or lavender, and let the skin calm for several hours before using night or anti-aging treatments, which contain chemicals and acids that can irritate sensitive skin.
Gentle, emollient Kiss My Face’s Scrub/Masque moisturizes with almond, oat, corn, and clay, and fights breakouts with a touch of antibacterial honey. Poppy seeds and finely crushed walnuts in éminence Pear & Poppy Seed Microderm Polisher buff skin, while the antioxidant quercetin may help alleviate symptoms of psoriasis, rosacea, and eczema. The rosehip seed, avocado, wheat germ, and carrot oils in Aubrey Organics’ Jojoba Meal & Oatmeal with Rosa Mosqueta Mask & Scrub prevent moisture loss.
Oily or acne-prone skin
Remember that exfoliating is designed to remove dead skin cells on the surface—not oil, bacteria, makeup, and dirt stuck deep inside pores, says DuPriest. “Scrubbing your face long and hard will not cure your acne or solve your oily skin,” she says. “You’ll only make the problem worse by opening up the skin to irritation, infection, and maybe even scarring.”
Try scrubs with fruit acids and enzymes, which help control oily skin and unclog pores. After exfoliating, rinse with cold water to close pores.
Antimicrobial honey in Collective Well-being’s Honey Buff helps to kill surface germs that can cause pimples and infect sores, and rosehip seeds lift away dead cells without irritating acne. The organic aloe vera in Alba Pineapple Enzyme Facial Scrub helps reduce redness and heal sores, and the fruit acids in MyChelle Fruit Enzyme Scrub dissolve dead skin cells.
When it comes to scrubs, most anti-aging serums and additives, such as vitamins, antioxidants, proteins, and retinols, do little to nourish the skin’s surface, says Brandwith Irwin, MD, a Seattle-based dermatologist. “They don’t hurt, but a scrub is only on the skin for a few seconds—not enough time for anti-aging agents to have any real effect,” Irwin says. Exfoliating two or three times per week, though, will help turn back the clock. “Dry skin magnifies wrinkles. Exfoliating softens the appearance of wrinkles and leaves skin looking younger, more luminous,” explains DuPriest. Reach for products infused with alpha-hydroxy acids, which accelerate the removal of dead skin cells to reveal softer, younger-looking skin. Always massage gently, and avoid pulling on delicate areas, such as the tissue around eyes.
Emerita’s Microdermabrasion Face Scrub polishes with delicate pumicelike granules that won’t pull or tear, while soybean oil’s fatty acids quench dehydrated skin. The glycolic acid in Earth Science’s Papaya-Glycolic Gentle Skin Peel loosens dead skin, leaving your face tight and fresh. South African red-tea extract enriches Jason’s Red Elements Exfoliating Scrub with large quantities of alpha-hydroxy acids, which help the gel’s joboba beads slough away dead cells.
“Anything that works on the face will work on the body, but what works on the body won’t necessarily work on the face,” says natural-beauty expert Janice Cox of Medford, Oregon. Sugar is good for all skin types and can be used all over your body—and it’s less dehydrating than salt scrubs, which are generally too abrasive for the face but still work wonders on feet, elbows, and other rough spots. After exfoliating, wrap yourself in a cotton robe and allow oils to absorb into your skin.
Drench your skin with the calendula petals, almond oil, and jojoba ester in Hugo Grapefruit Himalayan Pink Salt Scrub, or polish with the sweet-smelling, gentle Earth Therapeutics Oatmeal & Honey Loofah Exfoliating Scrub. Jason’s six new exfoliating scrubs have something for every skin type, such as Aloe Vera Soothing Body Scrub for dry or sensitive skin and Cranberry Rejuvenating Body Scrub for normal skin.