The Importance of Exfoliation in The Winter
By Janell Hickman
Ok, So Why Winter?
Not surprisingly, winter is often when many of us start complaining about dry, dull, or itchy skin. You can blame moisture-zapping indoor heat, less water intake, and blistering outdoor winds. According to Heyday Skincare Educator Jeni Montoya, due to less sun exposure, it’s safe to up the ante on exfoliation starting now until early spring.
“This is definitely the time of year that we start encouraging peels and heavier exfoliation methods like microdermabrasion. “You'll see us recommending them a lot,” she explains. “The more sun, the bigger the risk with those types of treatments.” However, sloughing off a layer of skin does make it more susceptible to sun damage, so remember to exfoliate at night and apply sunscreen in the morning.
Exfoliation Is For Everyone
If you want healthy, smooth skin, exfoliation needs to be a part of your skincare routine—regardless of your skin type. “There’s a big misconception that only certain skin types need to exfoliate,” explains Montoya. “Everyone needs help sloughing off dead skin cells—even sensitive skin types,” she adds.
Which brings us to our next big question: How frequently should you exfoliate? The answer is it depends. On average, the right cadence to exfoliate is about three times per week—but it depends on a variety of factors.
If you have sensitive or easily irritated skin, you can scale back to once or twice per week. “[Sensitive skin types] want to stay away from things that are more abrasive, and instead use more gentle exfoliants.”
Montoya recommends Dr. Loretta Micro Peel Pads since they are pre-dosed with 10% glycolic acid, and designed to tackle everything from breakouts to congestion to excessive oil to hyperpigmentation. Traditionally, those with oily or combination skin types can handle a higher exfoliation cadence. Dry skin types can land around the two to three times per week mark.
The key, however, is to avoid over-exfoliating as it can cause more harm than good. “You really shouldn’t be exceeding exfoliation four times per week—three is kind of the perfect number,” Montoya explains.
Also, consider the way you are exfoliating—remember there are two types. A mix of both will ensure you get the best results, and keep your skin integrity in check. Think: a scrub or enzyme for a few nights, then a tool like Dermaflash Pore Extractor & Serum Infuser or Naturopathica Facial Cleansing Brush in between.
Opt To Exfoliate in The Evenings
“Exfoliation is always going to come directly after your cleanser—regardless of whether it's a chemical or physical treatment,” explains Montoya. After a long day (especially for makeup wearers), exfoliation can help remove any remaining particles for a smoother, cleaner canvas for your subsequent products.
But consider this: because you are removing the top layer of skin, you are leaving your face immediately more vulnerable. Opt to exfoliate in the evenings only versus first thing in the morning. This is particularly important for those currently using retinol in their routine.
Exfoliation can leave your skin more immediately vulnerable. Always make sure you're exfoliating in the evening, and applying SPF in the morning.
Don’t Forget Your Body
Wrapping yourself in a huge wool blanket might sound like a dream, but it can also strip your skin of much-needed moisture. Because your skin is less exposed this time of year (goodbye bikini season!), your largest organ needs a little assistance shedding dead skin cells.
“Winter is a great time to get the skin on your body exfoliated and hydrated,” explains Montoya. “Mainly, because the weather is colder and the skin is more dehydrated,” explains Montoya. She’s a fan of the Grown Alchemist Purifying Body Exfoliant (note, there’s also an intensive version as well) paired with a luxe body oil like the Osea Malibu Undaria Algae Body Oil. “These work really well together, and ensure that you're taking care of your skin all year round—even when it’s less exposed,” she adds.
No, You Still Can’t Skip SPF
We know, we know—we just said that exfoliation is a nighttime occurrence, so why is SPF still part of the equation? We always recommend SPF, but it’s even more important when you’re sloughing off layers of dead skin.
Imagine if the sun were a microwave, and we are inside of it. Essentially, our food (or in this instance, us!) will still get warm or hot even though we don’t see those rays. “There's a lot of confusion around sunscreen and why we need to wear it,” explains Montoya. “Even though you're not getting as much heat and as much light from the sun [in the winter], we're still being exposed to UV radiation.”
Our skin gets damaged every time we step outside without adequate protection, and when we exfoliate, our skin becomes even more photosensitive. “Rays can even be stronger on days that are overcast because the clouds reflect them and push them back down” adds Montoya. “You'll hear a lot of people getting burns when it's overcast and foggy. Definitely use sunscreen this time of year, and be even more diligent when exfoliating.”
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