The Dos and Don’ts of Exfoliation

Megan Segura
Glycolic acid is key for smoothing fine lines.

Glycolic acid is key for smoothing fine lines.

Exfoliation is still one area of skin care that’s completely confusing. At first we’re told to do it for a smoother, brighter complexion, but then we’re told doing it too often or improperly will hurt are skin. Which is it? Dermatologist Jeannette Graf, M.D. tells us exactly what we need to now when it comes to proper exfoliation.

DO choose a gentle exfoliator. 
When choosing a face scrub, be sure to look for one with rounded exfoliating beads, like Bioré Pore Unclogging Scrub ($7.99, Scrubs with apricot pits or walnut shells can cause tiny tears in the skin. When skin is injured, pores can actually start appearing larger, thus defeating the purpose of exfoliation in the first place.

DO use ingredients like glycolic and lactic acid.
If your goal is to brighten your skin or smooth fine lines, then you need chemical exfoliation, like an at-home peel. Try REN Glycol Lactic Radiance Renewal Mask ($55,

DON’T exfoliate irritated skin.
If it hurts or stings, stop exfoliating! You could be causing more harm than good. Give your skin a break for a week or so, then attempt exfoliation again.

DON’T exfoliate more than twice a week.
You don’t want to harm the skin barrier, which protects your skin from the elements and prevents moisture loss.

Read more: 10 Acne Products and Treatments That Really Work

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