Achieving radiant, smooth skin in the winter is no easy task. From the moisture-zapping elements, to a drop in humidity, the cold season is stressful for our skin.
There are many ways to care for your skin during the winter months: supplying richer hydration, using moisturizing treatment masks, and even an indoor humidifier can all contribute to healthy skin. But the most effective way to get a luminous glow and smooth texture is through exfoliation.
Our skin naturally sheds its dead skin cells but as we age, this cell turnover slows down. That’s why you might notice congestion, dullness, and uneven skin tone as you get older. Exfoliation helps to remove that top layer of dead skin and reveals the soft, even complexion underneath.
In addition to softening the skin, exfoliation can also help with:
● smoothing texture and minimizing pores
● clearing buildup, blackheads, acne
● fading hyperpigmentation like dark spots, acne scars, and melasma
● giving skin an all-over glow
Before we get into routines, it’s important to note that there are two different types of exfoliation: manual and chemical.
This method of exfoliation buffs away dead skin cells with products and tools like scrubs, sponges, and brushes. People often begin with manual exfoliation because it’s accessible, affordable, and more controlled by the user.
Chemical exfoliation uses peels like alpha-hydroxy acid (AHA), beta-hydroxy acid (BHA), and fruit enzymes to dissolve the bonds between the dead skin cells. These ingredients remove the top layer of dead skin without using manual force.
● AHAs like glycolic acid and lactic acid work best to fade hyperpigmentation like sun damage and acne scarring
● BHAs like salicylic acid work best on acne-prone and oily skin types as they help to reduce excess sebum production and clear congestion
● Fruit enzymes like papaya enzyme work best to exfoliate sensitive skin types
How To Exfoliate Your Face
When it comes to exfoliation, the rule of thumb is to start low and go slow. If you’re a beginner, you won’t want to exfoliate more than once a week at first. See how your skin feels and adjust accordingly.
Here’s a great chemical exfoliation routine for winter:
1. Begin with a gentle cleansing milk like Graydon’s Aloe Milk Cleanser. This will help to remove impurities without stripping your skin’s natural oils.
2. Gently swipe one of Indie Lee’s Daily Peel pads across your face, with special attention to your t-zone and problem areas. Be mindful to avoid your eyes.
3. Always end your exfoliation treatment by moisturizing your skin. See our best picks for dry, winter skin here.
For manual exfoliation:
1. Begin your routine with a moisture-rich cleanser such as Grown Alchemist’s Hydra Restore Cream Cleanser.
2. Delicately scrub your face with Josh Rosebrook's Active Enzyme Exfoliator. Use light pressure and be gentle. (This dual-action exfoliant delivers results that are visibly better than either method alone.)
3. Add hydration back to your skin with a rich moisturizer. See our best picks for dry, winter skin here.
How To Exfoliate Your Body
1. Cleanse your body with a moisturizing cleanser like Yarok’s Hyaluronic Body Wash. Even better? Use a Konjac Exfoliating Body Sponge to gently polish skin and extend the life of your body wash.
2. Gently scrub your body, hands, and feet with a body scrub, we love Grown Alchemist's Smoothing Body Exfoliant because it is thick and creamy in the best way. Pay special attention to areas that accumulate dry skin like elbows and heels.
3. Rehydrate your skin with a rich, luxurious body cream like Apoterra’s Rose + Violet Leaf Body Butter.
4. 1-2 times per week, incorporate a Dry Brush routine before you get in the bath or shower. This will help soften the skin and assist with circulation.