Let’s face it: winter wreaks havoc on our skin, leaving it dry, itchy, flaky and in desperate need of some relief. While you may be more apt to just pile on extra moisturizer, that’s not always the answer. “Exfoliation is key because it helps unclog pores and encourage skin cell turnover,” says Madison Ruggieri, co-founder of The Motley, which makes a facial scrub (see below). “It also helps skin absorb moisturizers and serums better, [and] in winter, exfoliating helps remove dry skin so you can hydrate better.” In other words, adding in that extra step of sloughing away dead skin a few times per week can help your face soak up those nourishing products to keep it dewy soft and smooth all season.
We’ve selected five options that’ll work for just about anyone’s beauty routine. What are you waiting for? Get scrubbing!
The Gentle Option
This gentle exfoliating scrub uses finely crushed walnut shells and glycolic acid to remove dead, dull skin. Bamboo extract soothes irritation and redness, turmeric provides anti-inflammatory properties, spirulina wards off free radicals and eliminates toxins and sea buckthorn berry extract is an antioxidant that fights blemishes and improves skin tone. It’s gentle enough to use everyday, though Ruggieri says two to three times a week is plenty.
The Dermatology at Home Option
Ever been curious about a chemical face peel, but are afraid that the process is a bit too harsh and might leave your face feeling (and looking) raw and red? Then try this daily at-home peel from renowned dermatologist Dr. Dennis Gross instead. “Acids immediately remove old, dull skin, exfoliate, rejuvenate, brighten and make skin appear younger,” says Gross. “In the long-term, acids stimulate collagen revealing younger, more radiant skin over time.” The box comes with 30 two-step daily treatments. Start by massaging the Step 1 pad (which exfoliates and smooth) in circular motions onto your clean, dry face until the pad feels dry. Wait two minutes, then use the Step 2 pad (an anti-aging neutralizer) using the same technique as step 1. He recommends morning use so you start the day with a glow, but says evening treatment is just as effective. “Using it daily allows for a cycle exfoliating away dull, dead skin cells and cell-turnover.” The Alpha Beta peels can be used by everyone, and are offered in Universal Formula, Extra Strength, Medi-Spa (a weekly treatment) and the new Ultra Gentle Daily Peel for those with sensitive skin or who are trying peels for the first time.
K-beauty addicts: this exfoliator is for you. Made with natural ingredients including organically-produced sugar that’s unrefined and enriched with minerals including phosphorus, calcium, iron, magnesium and potassium, it’s also rich in riboflavin, niacin and pantothenic acid. The grainy scrub is brown in color but smells lemony fresh, and can be used in one of two ways. Either massage it on your dry face after cleansing, then leave it on for 15 minutes for it to melt and continue to penetrate your skin, or rub it on and rinse it off right away with a warm washcloth. Either way, you will notice that your skin looks smoother and brighter--and ready to soak up those serums, essences and moisturizers essential to your 10-step Korean beauty regimen. Use it a twice per week, and keep in mind a little goes a long way. A scoop from the jar is also a perfect antidote for dry elbows, knees and heels.
This natural microdermabrasion two-in-one product is made with aloe vera to moisturize and boost healing, manuka honey to balance the skin’s pH, detoxify and boost the immune system, walnut to dislodge dirt and dead skin cells, sugar can to help the walnut’s effectiveness and vitamin c to reduce free radicals and stave off premature aging. Use it in the morning or evening as a scrub, or leave it on for 15 minutes as a mask that will balance skin tone, help reduce fine lines, wrinkles and age spots and restore and protect skin.
On a beauty budget? You can still get exfoliated skin. Drugstore staple St. Ives’ facial scrub is made with 100% natural exfoliants including Mandarin oranges and California lemons that are pink on the inside and greenish-yellow on the outside, which add a distinctively unique citrus kick. Squeeze a dime-sized amount onto your fingertips and massage onto damp skin, spread it in circular motions with gentle pressure, then rinse and pat dry with a towel. Use it three to four times per week, and at this price, you can keep one tube in the shower and another in your gym bag.