Sunday, July 26, 2009

Do You Have a Favorite Facial Exfoliator?

On weekends, when I have a little extra time, I remember to exfoliate. There are two basic types of exfoliators: chemical and physical. The physical ones usually have some kind of micro-beads that polish off dead skin cells. The chemical ones do their work by reacting with the upper layer of the skin, weakening the binding properties of the lipids that hold dead skin cells together. This allows the outer skin to "dissolve," revealing the underlying healthy skin.

So, what's the point? Dead skin cells cling to our skin, and they make us look and feel dry, flaky, and dull. In order to renew and refresh our skin, we have to exfoliate. Sure, skin exfoliates over time without any help, but not fast enough!

There are only a few physical exfoliators that I can use, given my "reactive skin." Most of them are way too rough, no matter how little pressure I use when applying. I have successfully used My Blend Skin Polishing Cleanser ($70), a nice, although pricey, gel-based product that cleans as you exfoliate. It's gentle and non-drying, and I can use it a few times/week. I like the two-for quality of using it. My Blend products are a bit "obscure." I was introduced to them at Saks, and the only one of the My Blend products I tried that really grabbed me was this exfoliating cleanser. I would purchase it again.

My skin likes the glycolic acid exfoliators best. These are the basis for chemical peels administered in high concentrations by physicians. Glycolic acid is derived from sugar cane and is one of the most powerful and penetratable alpha hydroxy acids. We can purchase glycolic acid products in many brands at lower, safer concentrations than are used for in-office procedures.

I have used the 20% Natura Bisse Glyco Peeling 25% Pump (there is a 50% pump available too, but at an even higher price), and Glycoderma Revitalizing Facial Cream (25%) - the latter meant to be used as a leave-on cream, but I use it as a treatment.

There are also many moisturizers with glycolic acid. You leave these on, as opposed to the treatment products above. M.D. Forte Facial Cream I (15%) and Alpha Hydrox Enhanced Cream (10%) both work well. However, I prefer a treatment product I can use for 20-30 minutes and then wash off.

These exfoliators represent a wide variety of price points - from the $10.99 to $130. I'd recommend starting with the least expensive one you can find.

Watch out for salicylic acid in chemical exfoliators if you have sensitive skin. It burns my skin. I stay away from all products with this ingredient. I think it's good for younger, particularly acne-prone or oily skin.

I'm always looking for a newer, better exfoliator, so please send recommendations in the comments.

Photo courtesy of Saks.


Anonymous said...

I have several favorite exfoliators that I would be happy to share! Patricia Wexler MD has a Microdermabrasion set that works wonders - it is the mechanical exfoliation method, utilizing a fine paste of the magnesium hydroxide crystals in a creamy suspension to renew the surface of the skin, rendering it smooth and getting rid of dullness and flakiness. If you buy the set, you also et a pure Hyaluronic gel to apply post-peel to soothe. I am happy that you can purchase both separately now from Bath & Bodyworks, as the generously-sized tube of exfoliant lasts much longer than the gel.
Another set that combines mechanical exfoliation with AHA chemical peeling is a GREAT value and available at drugstores - that would be the Olay Microdermabrasion Kit. It is extremely similar in form to the Philosophy peel kit available at Sephora or Nordstrom, but why pay the extra $40? Both come with a jar of the derm crystals in a vitamin C suspension for the mechanical exfoliation part, and the chemical peel is provided in a tube of lactic acid serum. Lactic acid is a milk-derived AHA - gentler for sensitive skin than some enzyme fruit acids. Remember Cleopatra taking baths in asses' milk? Same principle - the acid in the milk is a gentle chemical exfoliator. Available at drugstores for about $29 but always on sale monthly and there are always coupons in the paper for Olay products. Wexler also makes a Glyco Peel but i haven't had the chance to use it yet - CharlestonGirl, have you? I'd love your expert opinion!!

Charlestongirl said...

Dear Anonymous,

You have convinced me - I'll be trying the Wexler product. I really like her line, and the idea of pure hyaluronic gel is enticing. Thanks for the tip to purchase them separately!

Now, of course, given my fondness for glycolic acid peels, I'll have to buy the Glyco Peel too. Great ideas - thank you.

buy viagra said...

The peels are excellent for your skin soft and healthy, I love using my whole body scrubs are a great help!

I usually do with my exfoliating massage to remove dead skin, so my skin looks brighter and feels more smooth.