On most weekdays, we find time for only a minimalist skincare routine—cleanser, toner, and moisturizer—and maybe a serum if we have a couple minutes to spare. Body care, if it’s even a thing, is completely neglected.
However, full-body exfoliation is the single most important thing you can do for your skin during the winter months. While most of us think of exfoliation as essential for glowing summer skin—exfoliation is just as important, if not more so, to maintain healthy winter skin. Our body naturally sheds dead skin cells on a daily basis—but over time, cell turnover slows—leading to dull flaky skin, uneven skin tone, and loss of firmness. Sub-zero winter temps and indoor heating leave skin parched, further irritating dry sensitive skin.
Moisturizing alone is not enough. Dead skin buildup prevents your skin from absorbing moisturizer and makes your serum less effective. Exfoliation is a winter skin saver. In order to allow the nutrients from your moisturizer and serum to penetrate dehydrated skin, make twice weekly exfoliation part of your body beauty routine.
Here’s Our Guide to Choosing the Best Exfoliator for Your Skin:
Exfoliators can be categorized under two main categories: physical and chemical.
Physical Exfoliation -
remove dead skin cells from the surface of skin through a scrubbing or sloughing action. Physical exfoliants range from granules like sugar and salt, coffee grounds, finely ground nut shells, powders, or a brush.
For the Body: Skin is thicker on the rest of your body and can tolerate a stronger scrub. Try a scrub made from coffee grounds, like Frank Body which contains caffeine for an energizing effect (while also minimizing cellulite). Fytt Beauty’s Hit Restart contains flaxseeds to exfoliate and essential oils to hydrate, while delivering a megadose of antioxidants to nourish dull winter skin. Try our 3-Minute Healthy Skin Workout in the shower.
For the Face: For sensitive facial skin, choose gentler scrubs made from sugar or rice powder. Sugar is a natural glycolic acid too, acting as a chemical exfoliant to brighten skin (more on that below). Try Fresh’s Sugar Face Polish for brighter skin. For dry skin, try Tatcha’s Classic Rice Enzyme Powder.
Chemical Exfoliation -
includes alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) or beta hydroxy acids (BHAs). The acids work to dissolve the glue that holds skin cells together, dislodging dead skin cells. While alpha hydroxy acids like glycolic or lactic acid work on the surface of the skin to brighten and smooth, beta hydroxy acid like salicylic acid is oil soluble, meaning it can penetrate into your skin to unclog pores.
For the Body: Chemical exfoliation is perfect for those with acne prone skin in need of some exfoliation, especially on the upper back or…ahem, buttocks. Dermadoctor’s KP Scrub is especially effective in treating skin bumps like keratosis pilaris.
For the Face: Facial skin is prone to dryness, clogged pores, and wrinkles. Products that contain both AHAs and BHAs like Drunk Elephant’s Sukari Babyfacial work to improve skin texture while clearing pores.
As with all exfoliators, go easy on the scrubbing. Being overly aggressive with exfoliants in the winter can be irritating, and destroy your skin’s protective barrier, causing skin to have trouble retaining moisture—causing dehydrated skin.
Start by exfoliating your skin once or twice a week, depending on the product. Check the instructions for each formula, and if skin appears irritated, reduce the frequency.
Freshly exfoliated skin is the perfect canvas for slathering on moisturizers and serums. Always replenish skin afterwards with lotions or oils to protect your skin’s lipid barrier.