Woman washing face

2 for 2: Wash & Exfoliate

If you have a chronically oily T-zone while other areas of your skin are dry, you probably have combination skin. Caring for combination skin requires a delicate balance between products that are strong enough to stop and control oil, while still being gentle enough to not cause irritation and further dryness to other areas of your face. Two of the most important steps in any skin care routine, but especially combination skin, are washing and exfoliating. Keep reading to learn what types of products you should be using and how to use these products on your combination skin.

Wash
Every good skin care routine begins with washing your face. When you have combination skin, it is important to use the correct cleansers to avoid aggravating dry spots or not properly removing oil. The key to washing combination skin is to use a gentle cleanser that removes dirt, oil and makeup in a mild way. Believe it or not, there is no single cleanser that works perfectly for each and every person that has combination skin, you will have to experiment a bit to find a formulation that works for your skin. If you have combination skin that leans towards the oilier side, check out gel-based or very mild foaming cleansers and if you have combination skin that is a bit drier, look for cleansing lotion.

Using the proper cleansing technique is also important in caring for combination skin. You want to begin with warm, not hot, water. Hot water will aggravate any dry areas of your skin because it strips moisture from your skin. Apply your chosen cleanser to your fingertips and wash your face using light pressure and circular motions. Aim to wash for about 30 seconds to one minute to allow the ingredients in your cleanser to fully penetrate your skin. Rinse your face completely using warm water, then pat dry with a clean washcloth. Although using a clean washcloth each and every time you wash your face can seem excessive, it keeps your washcloth from becoming a breeding ground for bacteria.

Exfoliate
Exfoliation is critical for healthy skin because it removes dead skin cells that accumulate on the surface of your skin. Your skin is constantly undergoing a process known as desquamation, or cell turnover, and the final stage results in dead skin cells on your skin. In order to reveal the healthier and more radiant skin cells, you need to remove the dead skin cells. There are two types of exfoliation – chemical and physical – and for combination skin, you definitely want to use a chemical exfoliator.

Alpha-hydroxy acids, such as glycolic and lactic acids, gently break up and dissolve the bonds that hold your dead skin cells together. When the acids break these bonds, the dead skin cells are sloughed away to reveal the newer and healthier skin cells your epidermis has been producing.

Caring for combination skin doesn’t have to be confusing and complicated. The main objective with combination skin is to keep it balanced. Consistent washing with a gentle cleanser and frequent exfoliation with mild exfoliants help keep your combination skin in balance and under control.

Woman exfoliating her skin

Why Exfoliation is Important for Good Skin Care

Simply put, exfoliation is the removal of dry, dead skin cells that rest on the surface of your skin. There are two ways to exfoliate your skin:

  • Physical Exfoliation – Uses washcloths, facial brushes, dry brushes or scrubs that use exfoliating ingredients like sugar or salt.
  • Chemical Exfoliation – Works by dissolving the “glue” that binds skin cells and sloughing them from the skin. The most commonly used chemical exfoliants are alpha- and beta-hydroxy acids, though retinol is also used in many anti-aging products because it stimulates cell turnover.

Why is Exfoliation Important for Healthy Skin?
Your cells naturally regenerate, but the process slows down considerably as you age. As these skin cells pile up on your face, you may notice that your face looks dull, feels rough and appears dry. Additionally, allowing these dead skin cells to accumulate can result in clogged pores which cause blemishes and acne.

Cleansing treatment

Without proper exfoliation, the ingredients in your skin care products are not able to penetrate the skin and be fully absorbed. Bottom line, your face products are less effective if you aren’t exfoliating and if you have dead skin cells accumulating on the surface of your face, you are inviting more skin care problems. Here are some of the greatest benefits to regularly exfoliating your skin:

  • Clear Breakouts and Acne – Skin that is acne-prone sheds more skin cells than any other type of skin, but these skin cells don’t fall away from the face. These skin cells stick to the surface of your skin and clog your pores and follicles which causes your skin to produce more oil that causes blackheads and other blemishes. Exfoliating your skin regularly reduces skin buildup and decreases the likelihood of blemishes forming.
  • Improves Skin Texture – When you exfoliate dead skin cells away, your skin’s natural renewal process is sped up which allows younger, healthier skin to take the place of the dry, dead cells. This will even out complexion taking it from dull to bright and rough to smooth.
  • Minimize the Appearance of Pores – Dead skin cells on the surface of your skin clogs your pores and can trap other dirt and debris in your pores which make your pores appear larger. Exfoliating your skin essentially decongests them and diminishes the appearance of your pores.
  • Reduce Visible Signs of Aging – Your skin becomes drier and less elastic during the aging process which results in visible signs of aging. As previously mentioned, regular exfoliation changes the rough texture of aging skin to a smooth texture. Exfoliating also reveals more luminous skin and can help to combat other signs of aging like discoloration from both age and sunspots.

Exfoliation is critical for healthy, youthful looking skin and it makes your skin care products more effective. You can exfoliate your entire body to see smoother, more even skin, but be careful that you don’t overdo it. Using harsh scrubs can cause damage, so it’s best to stick with gentle exfoliators. As a general rule, exfoliating two to three times each week is plenty to keep your skin free from dead skin cell debris, but some people that use very low concentrations of alpha- or beta-hydroxy acids may exfoliate every night. Start exfoliating today to reveal younger and healthier skin.