November 12, 2014 Stacy Cox Spotlight

How to Exfoliate the Right Way

Here at MDC, we love calling upon top beauty pros to share advice on everything from hair, makeup and skin care. Today, we are thrilled to have Los Angeles-based skincare expert Stacy Cox sound off on exfoliation. Take it away Stacy!

Although many view exfoliation as an optional add-on to their beauty regimen, it actually ranks evenly with flossing our teeth, watering the plants and taking down the holiday lights from our rooflines.  Like all these tedious tasks, scrubbing your face is one of those things you wish would get magically completed, no effort involved. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way. Your face needs to be exfoliated regularly to keep it refined and youthful. By exfoliating regularly (And by regularly, I mean weekly), you are diminishing dead skin and allowing targeted treatments for anti-aging and skin rejuvenation to penetrate more easily. On top of making it a regular part of your routine, it’s important to go about exfoliation correctly, as one false move can wreak havoc on your face. Take a look at my tips for scrubbing that face right!

1. Be consistent. Aim for once a week. Once a year just won't cut it.

2. Know your skin type. Your exfoliating solution and technique should align with your skin’s needs. For sensitive mugs, try a non-granular exfoliator (such as BioTherm Biosource Exfoliating Gel) that will naturally buff your skin, sans vigorous scrubbing. For drier complexions, a manual scrub (such as Kiehl’s Facial Fuel Energizing Scrub) will be best.

3. Patch Test. Test any of these out on the side of your neck first. So if you have a reaction you can still head to Before committing to a product, test it out on the side of your neck first. Wait a week or so to see if you have a reaction.

4. Follow instructions. Make sure to read the application protocols before applying an exfoliator. One wrong move could mean possible irritation or damage to the skin surface.

5. Be gentle. When dealing with manual scrubs, use gentle, circular motions. Aggressive or vigorous scrubbing can break your skin and lead to irritation, redness and breakouts. Also, avoid rinsing with hot water, and opt for lukewarm instead.

6. Embrace the rosy glow. Exfoliation stimulates circulation, oxygen and blood flow to the area being treated. So, this often stimulates a rosy glow. If the redness stays with you for more than a day, it’s possible you overdid it.  Apply some cold compresses to the area and rethink the exfoliation product.

7. Don’t neglect the non-facial areas. Don’t forget the area below the neck. It needs love too! Get yourself a granular scrub that’s specifically designed for the body (don’t use your face exfoliant!) Try a body scrub like The Body Shop Wild Argan Oil Rough Scrub — it’s my fave!

8. Don’t forget the post-exfoliation products. After you exfoliate, make sure to follow up with targeted treatments such as a face serum and/or moisturizer to support, calm and soothe the skin.

9. When in doubt, ask a dermatologist. If you have an existing condition such as rosacea or eczema consult with a dermatologist before delving into any form of exfoliation. Allow them to weigh in on what's safe and effective for you to use.

7. Don’t be afraid to DIY it. Sea-salt based scrubs are better for the body and sugar-based scrubs tend to work well on your face.

What’s your go-to exfoliator? Tell us your fave in the comments below!

Photo: thinkstock



    About the Author: Stacy Cox is a Los Angeles-based esthetician and owner of day spa Pampered People in Studio City, California.