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The Expert Guide on Exfoliation.

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You’re not the only one that slows down with age—your skin slows down too. In your 20s, it takes about 14–21 days for your skin cells to turnover (shed), and make way for newer, more vibrant, younger-looking skin. In your 30s, this process takes about 28–45 days. In your 40s, it drags on for 45–60 days, and in your 50s and beyond, it takes 60–90 days. To put that into perspective, skin cell turnover takes 3–5 days for babies, which is why their skin is always soft, and why cuts heal faster for children.

This process plays a huge role when it comes to aging and acne.

As dead skin cells build up on your face, they’ll clog and stretch your pores, making your pores appear larger. They might also trap bacteria and lead to acne. This is why adult acne is not uncommon. As the turnover process delays even further, wrinkles will appear deeper as dead skin cells build up around them, and patches of excess pigment (dark spots) will appear even darker. 

This is why exfoliation is so essential for achieving clean, clear, younger-looking skin. It allows you to manually speed up the turnover process, even as your body begins to stall.

There are two main ways to exfoliate:

Chemical exfoliation

This approach uses acids—sounds scary, but it’s not. Salicylic acid and glycolic acid are the most common and most effective. Your best bet is to add a toner with these ingredients to your regimen, give your face a swipe after cleansing, and let them go to work. These acids will clear away dead skin cells faster than your body is able to and make way for newer ones. It’s kind of like a Zamboni for your face. 

Physical exfoliation

This approach enlists a slightly abrasive scrub to help slough away dead skin cells.

When choosing an approach, consider your skin type. If you have oily, acne-prone, or dry, sensitive skin, you’re better off with chemical exfoliation. Normal, non-sensitive skin types can stand up to scrubs if that’s your preference. 

No matter which approach you choose, we recommend easing into by exfoliating two times per week to start and increasing as your skin adjusts.

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The breakdown
  • 01
    Two approaches

    Chemical exfoliation uses ingredients like salicylic or glycolic acid to clear away dead skin cells. Physical exfoliation requires a scrub.

  • 02
    Skin type matters

    Chemical exfoliation is better for oily, acne-prone or dry, sensitive skin. Normal, non-sensitive skin types can stand up to scrubs if that’s your preference.

  • 03
    Don't overdo it

    Ease into it by exfoliation two times per week and increasing as your skin adjusts.

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