Exfoliating 101: How to Let Fresh, Radiant Skin Shine Through

Exfoliating allows your freshest, most radiant skin to shine through. But how often should you scrub, and which method is right for you? Health editors ask the experts and weigh the options.

With so many great exfoliating products on the market now, you can have fun choosing. But you want to avoid overdoing it. Great results come when you find a method and schedule that suit your skin.

"The number one benefit is that skin seems smoother and silkier," confirms Harold Lancer, a dermatologist in Beverly Hills, California. "It also allows products to penetrate better." That's because exfoliating removes the surface layer of dead cells that can limit how much of your lotion gets through.

For most women, exfoliating twice a week is enough to ensure silky skin. To some degree, though, the frequency of your scrub-down depends on your age (older skin may be too dry and delicate for lots of scouring) and the climate you live in. Warm weather increases perspiration and oil production, leading to speedier accumulation of dead cells.

As for methods, a clean nubby washcloth will do the job. Don't use a sponge—they tend to stay damp and trap dead skin, creating a breeding ground for bacteria. Exfoliating gloves—available in fun colors—work great; pull them on and lather up with a moisturizing body wash. (Rinse the gloves well afterward, and let them air-dry.)

A scrub solution is another good way to go. We recommend Neutrogenas Energizing Sugar Body Scrub, $9.99, and Apivita Aromatherapy Energy Body Scrub, $18.

Women with oily skin should exfoliate more often than their dry-skinned sisters. Oily skin makes it hard for complexion-dimming dead cells to make their exit. "Starting in your 30s, your skin can look dull and ashen because skin cells renew themselves more slowly than they did when you were younger," says Debra Jaliman, M.D., a clinical instructor at Mount Sinai School of Medicine.

Use grain products (we like Merle Norman's Luxiva Skin Refining Cleanser or Sonya Dakar's Triple-Action Organic Scrub). Or smooth skin chemically with items that have glycolic or salicylic acids (try DDF's Glycolic Exfoliating Wash or Cellex-C's Betaplex Gentle Cleansing Milk).

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