We’ve all seen (and purchased) those masks and creams that promise a glowing complexion in a flash. But the harsh truth is that without exfoliating, it’s just not possible. Don’t get us wrong; we love a good flash fix as much as the next person, but exfoliation is key to that gorgeous glow.
On average, our skin naturally sheds approximately every 28 days to make way for new cells. Unfortunately, sometimes our natural turnover doesn’t quite do the job as effectively as we would like, leading to a dull-looking complexion and clogged pores. When old cells begin to accumulate on the skin, you may notice uneven texture, blemishes and blackheads (due to trapped sebum in the pores), and even that unpleasant feeling of products just sitting on top of the skin. Exfoliation helps support our skin’s natural process by sweeping up the old skin at the surface. This helps guarantee that our skincare routines are as effective as they possibly can be, as exfoliating allows our skin to absorb oils, serums and moisturizers more effectively into the skin.
When it comes to proper exfoliation, there are two ways to support your cell regeneration process: physical and chemical. In general, a good rule of thumb is to opt for chemical exfoliators from the neck up, and physical exfoliators from the shoulders down. Physical exfoliation involves gently applying a scrub to target areas and rinsing. Chemical exfoliators contain powerful ingredients that slough off old skin. There are two main categories of chemical exfoliants: alpha-hydroxy acids and beta-hydroxy acids.
Quality exfoliating skincare products can definitely restore radiance and smoother skin, but it’s important to use them as directed. There are plenty of physical exfoliators out there, but it’s important to look for options that the particles aren’t too abrasive. According to dermatologists, if the exfoliation method is aggressive, the less often it needs to be part of your routine — you don’t want to over-exfoliate and deal with irritated skin or a broken moisture barrier. Hydration is also key to supporting a healthy moisture barrier, so choose options that contain both active ingredients and botanicals: this will ensure that the products get the job done, but still leave our skin feeling nurtured and irritation-free.
Here are the best Sunday Riley exfoliating products for that hydrated, head-to-toe glow.
For Hair & Scalp
Dead skin cells, product residue, excess oil, and pollution can lead to heavy, lifeless hair that refuses to grow and — if you have a beard — ingrown hairs. If you’re experiencing any of these issues, try a chemical exfoliator for the scalp and hair. Safe for all hair types and color-treated tresses, Clean Rinse Clarifying Scalp Serum is a lightweight, rose gold-colored serum that contains glycolic acid and salicylic acid to clarify and exfoliate the scalp and dissolve follicle-clogging buildup. This fresh, jasmine-scented rinse also includes rose clay and witch hazel, both gentle astringents for extra cleaning power. Doubling up on deep cleaning also helps niacinamide work its magic to promote better hair growth. Simply apply using the easy nozzle tip to natural hair, braids, beards… you name it.
Gentle enough even for sensitive skin, Good Genes Lactic Acid Treatment contains lactic acid (an alpha hydroxy acid) to slough off dead skin and hydrate the skin to help support and protect your skin’s natural moisture barrier. While some chemical exfoliants can be a bit too harsh for an everyday spot in your skincare routine, this light and awakening serum is balanced by botanicals like naturally brightening licorice, soothing arnica and prickly pear extract, and refreshing lemongrass to ensure it’s gentle enough to use as a leave-on treatment.
For those of us looking to step up our exfoliation game, check out Glycolic Acid — the molecules in this AHA are smaller, which allows it to penetrate deeper into the skin. Good Genes Glycolic Acid Treatment is able to break apart pore-clogging debris to repair the look of sun-damaged, congested skin to instantly boost skin clarity. This active ingredient is also balanced with fermented prickly pear extract to soothe and calm the complexion, along with skin-purifying lemongrass extract.
Dealing with rough, dry skin? Don’t discount your moisturizer — some exfoliating ingredients are found there, too. Tidal Brightening Enzyme Water Cream contains gently refining papaya enzymes that work to exfoliate the top layer of the skin for a smoother texture. This hydrating cream also contains two forms of advanced hyaluronic acid to infuse water into the skin, along with alpha-arbutin to brighten the appearance of dark spots and discolorations.
Whether you experience dry, flaky skin or rough, bumpy texture in a specific area, pencil in some exfoliation to your self-care routine. This not only assists in reducing body acne but also helps prevent bacteria, sweat and dirt from accumulating underneath the skin’s surface. Your skin will instantly feel softer and smoother and extra clean.
Charcoal Smoothie Jelly Body Scrub is gentle enough for everyday use to smooth and refine sensitive skin, but concentrated enough to tackle targeted spots on the body, like keratosis pilaris on the arms. Think of this slightly minty charcoal scrub as the best of both exfoliating worlds — it contains very fine, natural powders and eco-friendly, biodegradable wax to help you slough off dead skin cells, but it’s also formulated with salicylic acid and lactic acid to clarify and smooth rough patches. Because this black jelly scrub is so moisturizing, you can even skip the post-shower lotion — your skin will be that soft.
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