We know this isn’t the most groundbreaking news, but we’ll say it anyway: Figuring out a skin-care routine in the middle of winter is tough. When you’re looking for the right product for you to cleanse, brighten, exfoliate, hydrate, moisturize and protect with SPF, the dryness and sensitivity that come with this time of year is often which means you have to change up some of your favorite recipes for something new (and lighter). In particular, exfoliants can cause problems if you’re not careful, and many exfoliants are too harsh to use on skin that’s already suffering from environmental irritation. Don’t worry, though — there’s a way to safely exfoliate skin and maintain skin barrier integrity throughout this time of year. Here’s everything you need to know about using chemical and physical exfoliants in the winter.

Wait, so is my chemical exfoliator sensitizing my skin?

Joshua Zeichner, director of cosmetic and clinical research at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City, most chemical exfoliants contain hydroxy acids. The compounds involved work by dissolving the connections between cells on the outer layer of skin. “These ingredients can help even skin tone, minimize dark spots, reduce breakouts, and soften the appearance of fine lines. They can target many of the concerns we have regarding communication. overall appearance of our skin.

However, despite everything positive they can do for our skin, alpha-hydroxy acids and beta-hydroxy acids – two of the most popular chemical exfoliants on the market – have very strong body. Their molecular size is relatively small, which means they can penetrate deeper skin layers, and they can also lead to sun sensitivity if proper SPF protection isn’t in place. Some people can handle these types of active ingredients with ease, even in winter, while others with sensitive skin are not so lucky. Dr. Zeichner said, “The wrong thing [hydroxy acid] may lead to significant irritation [in sensitive skin]”Exfoliating too vigorously can disrupt the skin barrier, which is never ideal, especially during winter, when our skin is at its driest. This can lead to overproduction. sebum and in some cases, increased breakouts – not to mention the potential for chemical burns.If you’re not sure if your skin is too sensitive to use these ingredients in the winter, don’t worry. Testing a patch on your arm or hand can be helpful before diving into a new product.

What exfoliating products can I use?

While AHAs and BHAs can be too strong for our sensitive winter skin, that doesn’t mean we should give up on exfoliation altogether. Over there We Alternative ways to remove dead skin cells and remove excess oil from pores without completely peeling the skin. Here’s a list of dermatologist-recommended ways you can exfoliate your skin until the weather starts to warm up.

Chemical Exfoliation

Polyhydroxy Acids (PHAs): We know we’ve just highlighted the dangers of hydroxy acids during the winter, but you should definitely consider this variation of acid for your winter skin care routine. “Polyhydroxy acids like gluconolactone are a great choice for people with sensitive skin or for use during the colder, drier months,” says Dr. Zeichner. Due to its large chemical structure, it does not penetrate deep into the skin, providing a gentle exfoliating effect.” He explains that PHAs have moisturizing ingredients to them, which means they will gently remove any dead skin cells while helping your skin retain all the moisture it can get.

Azelaic Acid: If you’re battling dull skin that’s also breaking out, consider this often overlooked acid. Azelaic acid is a great ingredient to gently buff away surface dead skin while going deep into pores to remove any excess sebum. Additionally, according to a 2008 review, “Azelaic acid per se has multiple modes of action in rosacea, but the anti-inflammatory effect achieved by reduction of reactive oxygen species appears to be the primary pharmacological effect,” which means it helps reduce redness and inflammation while helping skin look clear and bright.

Bakuchiol: We’re no stranger to the exfoliating benefits of retinoids, but, like some AHAs and BHAs, they can be a bit too harsh for already extremely sensitive skin. If you want all the benefits of retinoids without some of the stronger side effects, like skin flaking, redness, and irritation, consider bakuchiol. “For people with extremely sensitive skin, bakuchiol is a great choice,” says Dr. Zeichner. Think of it like nature’s retinol. It’s thought to fortify the skin and promote collagen production, but works through a different mechanism, so it doesn’t cause the same kind of irritation.”

Physical Exfoliation

Kill death celk: Despite some of the bad press they’ve received in the past, scrubs have their benefits. They manually remove dead skin cells from the surface of the skin without leaving behind chemical compounds that continue to exfoliate long after you’ve rinsed the product off. But don’t press add to cart on any old products yet. “If you are sensitive, use superfine physical exfoliants like rice flour or bamboo powder,” explains Dr. Zeichner. Some of the harsher ingredients, like walnut shell powder, can potentially irritate sensitive skin.”

Muslin fabric: We’re no stranger to the benefits of exfoliation à la muslin – it’s one of our secrets to glowing skin year-round. A muslin cloth gently removes accumulated or rough patches of skin. Think of it like a nail buffer that you will use to gently smooth the surface of your nails during your at-home manicure. Dr. Zeichner confirms the fabric’s benefits and says, “Muslin is incredibly gentle, and [a person] Reusable [it] to support daily face washing. Just make sure you clean it regularly as wet muslin is a breeding ground for bacterial overgrowth.”

Dermatology: It may seem odd that you can shave your face to exfoliate, but exfoliation is particularly effective at removing unwanted dead skin from your face. Dr. Zeichner says, “Dermaplaning is a treatment in which a blade is used directly on the skin to remove [outer] layer of dead cells along with fine hairs. It can be used on all skin types, as long as you’re careful. Make sure the skin is clean before using the peeler and apply moisturizer afterwards,” to prevent bacteria from spreading and to rebuild the skin barrier to prevent irritation.

Repair barriers

Although it can seem Beneficial for removing every last trace of dry skin from your skin, the key to exfoliating sensitive skin is to make sure you don’t overdo it. When exfoliating daily, your skin’s lipid barrier is disrupted, which means your skin won’t be able to effectively hydrate itself. When the skin cannot moisturize itself, the skin becomes more prone to dryness, irritation, acne and inflammation. Zeichner recommends exfoliating your skin “no more than one to two times per week” to allow the skin’s lipid barrier to repair itself and regenerate skin cells. We promise that a slow and gentle exfoliation *will* get rid of the dry patches on your cheeks.
And in the process of supporting your lipid barrier, make sure always Moisturizing after exfoliating. “After exfoliating, it is extremely important to apply a moisturizer,” says Dr. Zeichner. The goal of a post-exfoliation moisturizer is to restore the skin barrier, so I recommend looking for emollient-rich moisturizers. Emollients are natural oil-like ingredients that soften dead cells on the surface of the skin and provide a protective effect.”


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