Though, some people (young children and the genetically gifted, like my sister-in-law Jen) have naturally glow-y skin that seems lit from within, most of us need a little extra help.
Years ago at a deskside–that’s simply a buzzword for a quick meeting for convenience sake at a journalist’s office–I met skin care expert and celebrity esthetician, Renee Rouleau, and was taken with her smarts, her radiant skin and her product line. I recently asked her advice on luminous skin. Rouleau, says “exfoliation is one of the most important techniques you can do to achieve skin that’s bright, smooth and glowing. By removing the dead, expired skin cells you make way for the new, fresh ones that lie below.”
Q&A with Renee Rouleau:
Why Is Exfoliation Important? It can help resolve certain skin problems ranging from blemished skin to post-breakout red/dark marks, clogged pores, hyperpigmentation, dry skin, skin texture and signs of aging.
Should you exfoliate your body, too? Sloughing the body helps with problems like back breakouts, bumps on arms and legs, ingrown hairs, lightening dark skin on knees and elbows and for sunless tan prep. An exfoliating body cloth will remove dry skin cells and reveal softer, smoother skin and more even-toned skin on the body. These cloths work effectively with a mild shower gel. For back breakouts, using an antibacterial cleanser (like AHA/BHA Cleansing Gel) applied to the cloth and rubbed over the skin. It can be very effective for reducing back and body breakouts and fading post-breakout acne scars.
What are the different types of exfoliants? There are two types of exfoliants:
First, a “chemical” or “acid” exfoliant does the work for you. You apply it, leave it on the skin, and it works to dissolve the dry skin cells. These exfoliants include ingredients such as Glycolic Acid, AHAs and BHA, and enzymes such as Pumpkin, Papaya, and Pineapple. (To try, Renée Rouleau Triple Berry Smoothing Peel )
Second, a “physical” exfoliant means that you have to do the work. These exfoliants include facial brushes, sponges, and facial scrubs. Mint Buffing Beads
A combination of both physical and chemical exfoliants will give your skin the best results. For most skin types, this would be a mild alcohol-free Glycolic Acid Serum or AHAs (Alpha Hydroxy Acids) used under a night cream 3 nights on and followed by 3 nights off. This way, you’re still getting an intensive exfoliation, but you also give your skin a break. You’d combine this with a very mild facial scrub twice a week to lift off and remove the dissolved skin cells.
Is there anyone who should not exfoliate? For sensitive skin, I suggest using a gentle 10% version of glycolic acid like AHA Smoothing Serum 10% as it’s safe for delicate skin types. For severely sun damaged skin, Retinol is effective because it exfoliates more deeply in the skin. In addition to a retinol a 20% AHA serum like the Renée Rouleau AHA Smoothing Serum 20% helps to resurface wrinkled skin that is in need of more resurfacing to reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. Note a retinol and an acid should not be used on the same night.
Is there anything else about exfoliation we should know? Do not exfoliate daily, for most skin types, it’s too much! A facial scrub should be used 2-3 times a week, and an acid serum should be used three nights on and three nights off.