the best exfoliators

We all know that dead, dull skin is a major beauty blunder, but when it comes time to shed the extra layers, how do you choose the right product for you? With a market saturated with all types of scrubs, peels, and tools, the options can get overwhelming. To break down proper exfoliation to the basics, we enlisted the advice of Dr. Joshua Zeichner, Director of Cosmetic & Clinical Research at Mount Sinai Medical Center.

Scrubs

“Scrubs use rough particles to remove dead cells physically.  You need to be careful not to overdo it and irritate the skin,” Zeichner explains. “They’re best for people who don’t have sensitive skin, dry skin, or eczema.” Make sure to grab a scrub that’s gently formulated and specifically created for the face, but we love a good sugar or salt scrub for arms and legs.

MDC Scrub Picks: Caudalie Divine Scrub; Kiehl’s Milk Honey & Almond Scrub; Neutrogena Pore Refining Exfoliating Cleanser

Peels 

“Peels typically contain salicylic or glycolic acid in them and exfoliate the skin chemically by eating away at the connection between skin cells and allowing dead cells to drop off,” Zeichner says. Peels are best for the face, and work for a variety of skin types. The doctor advises “glycolic acid peels for dry or mature skin,” and “salicylic acid for younger, oily, or acne prone skin.”

MDC Peel Picks: Elemental Herbology – Facial Glow – Radiance Peel; SkinCeuticals Blemish + Age Defense; Garnier Skin Renew Clinical Dark Spot Overnight Peel;

Tools

“Tools, like the sonic and rotating brushes, gently physically remove surface dead cells through movement. They’re great anywhere, but best for the face and chest,” Zeichner tells us. “Make sure to choose the head brush that is appropriate for your skin type. There are brushes made specifically for the face versus body, and for sensitive skin or acne prone skin.”

MDC Tool Picks: The Clarisonic Plus; Olay Pro-X Advanced Cleansing System; DDF Revolve 400x Micro-Polishing System

Frequency

“In general, no matter what you are using, I recommend exfoliating once per week. It takes one to two weeks for baby cells to make their way from the bottom layer of the skin up to the surface. From there, cells need to accumulate to give the skin a dull appearance. For that reason, exfoliating every day is really not necessary. If you can tolerate it, advance to twice per week,” Zeichner advises.

Do you have any more exfoliating questions for our MDC experts? Leave them in the comments below!

Photos: Thinkstock