Wintertime Skin Part III - The Glow Getters: Exfoliants, Essences and Serums

Exfoliation is such an important step in your winter skin care regimen! Skin glows and shines with radiance when accumulated dead cells are regularly removed.

It's all about balance

The most common mistakes I have noticed my clients make regarding exfoliants are either over-exfoliating, which destroys the acid mantle and leads to all kinds of redness and irritation, or not exfoliating at all, which leads to a dull, congested and rough skin surface.

The appropriate type, strength and frequency of the exfoliant you choose ensures dead skin cells are removed and skin cell turnover is enhanced safely and effectively. This is as critical for dry skin as it is for congested skin, but for different reasons.

Why Exfoliate?

A buildup of dead skin cells on the epidermal surface clogs pores and can contribute to breakouts, but it can also contribute to chronic dehydration in dry skin types, as it means your moisturizer is not as effective in reaching the live, thirsty skin cells hiding beneath the dead ones.

Physical vs chemical exfoliation

For this discussion, I have chosen to focus my recommendations on chemical exfoliants exclusively, as they pose less potential damage to skin already stressed by the cold, dry air than physical exfoliants do.

'Chemicals' are not necessarily bad

Before discussing specific exfoliants I recommend for each skin type, I'd like to take a moment to clarify what the word 'chemical' means. 'Chemical' is a neutral term that has morphed into a pejorative over the last few decades, now nearly synonymous with “toxic”.

In reality, there is no chemical-free substance on this planet! Put simply, a chemical is anything composed of an element or a group of elements. Water, oxygen and glucose are all naturally-occurring chemicals.

What are chemical exfoliants?

At Optimum Health & Kolya, the term 'chemical exfoliants' refers to naturally-occurring or derived compounds which remove dead skin cells through chemical reactions on the epidermal surface. 

The products highlighted below all contain naturally-derived chemicals. Chemical exfoliation can be incorporated into your skincare ritual in a couple of different ways; you may choose to indulge in an exfoliating treatment mask once or twice a week, or you may wish to add an exfoliating serum to your daily routine.


Exfoliants for Oily Skin

Tata Harper’s Resurfacing Mask contains beta-hydroxy acids, which are your best friend if you deal with blackheads or congested skin. Beta-hydroxy acids get deep into pores to dissolve sebum, are anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory. Use this mask once up to three times a week to keep your skin balanced and glowing.

As an alternative daily ritual, Eminence’s Clear Skin Peel is a simple way to add exfoliation to your ritual daily. Smooth the fluid across clean skin with fingertips or a cotton pad, follow with a light moisturizer if desired, and leave on all night. The beta-hydroxy acids work to clarify your skin while you get your beauty rest.

Normal and Dry Skin Recommendations

Living Libations Green Papaya & Lime Mask is a gel-like formula to be smoothed over a clean face like a mask once or twice a week to plump, refresh, and hydrate normal skin or dry skin. Leave on up to 20 minutes before rinsing with water. Normal skin types may enjoy this treatment 1-2x a week, while dry types should use less frequently (once a week or every 2 weeks).

Those with normal or dry skin types will also enjoy smoothing Mad Hippie’s AHA Exfoliating Peel (formerly Exfoliating Serum) under their moisturizer. This product should not be washed off, and can be used once a day or once a week, depending on the skin's tolerance.

Sensitive skin, too?

Yes, even sensitive skin types should exfoliate! Eminence’s Calm Skin Peel is a super-gentle overnight treatment that will treat your delicate skin to refining and renewing exfoliants while calming irritation. Apply before bedtime under your oil serum and/or moisturizer; rinse off in the morning. Very sensitive skin types may choose to use this one or two times a week instead of every night, to minimize risk of irritation.

Now layer on the hydration

All skin types can benefit from the introduction of a hydrating essence and hyaluronic acid serum during the winter months. A beautiful combination, which is perfect for every face, is Mad Hippie’s Hydrating Nutrient Mist and Helena Lane’s Rose and Frankincense Hyaluronic Acid Serum.

The 'sandwich method'

Saturate your clean face with several pumps of the mist, then apply two to four pumps of the water-based serum while it is still damp. Follow with more hydrating mist, creating a water-oil-water “sandwich” on your skin.

Apply this “sandwich” morning and night, after cleansing and before other exfoliants, serums and moisturizers. These two products combined will transport water into your skin and lock it in, to help ensure it remains hydrated throughout the day.

Oil-based serums are applied AFTER water-based ones

Enhance and fortify your night regimen by applying an oil serum all over your face and neck, including around your eyes, before your moisturize. Everyone will glow with the addition of a few drops of Ayuna’s Cellular Oil beneath their nightly moisturizer.

This one-of-a-kind oil serum contains micro-lipids derived from stem cells of the Wild Olive Tree, which are intensely regenerative to all skin types. A luxurious  experience like no other, with a seductive feel and glorious aroma that affects a luminosity in all skin types.


Great job, you're almost done!

Your wintertime skin has now been gently cleansed and exfoliated, and treated to hydrating essences and serums. The final, critical step is protecting all your hard work with the right moisturizer and SPF.  Wintertime Skin Part IV: Hydrate and Protect will discuss the most effective moisturizing creams for all skin types, and the importance of sun protection in all seasons.

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