Exfoliation is a critical step in our anti-aging regimens – some dermatologists believe it is the most important of all. As I explained in my article on The Truth About Chemical Peels, cells reproduce in the epidermal junction where they are held together by lipids, ceramides and long chain fatty acids. We are constantly shedding and regenerating, but as we age, the turnover rate of our cells slows down. When the young cells gradually migrate to the skin surface where they die. Exfoliation removes those dead cells and speeds the process of skin cell turnover.
There’s a lot more to exfoliating than a weekly jojoba bead scrub, or at the other end of the spectrum, a TCA peel. Smart exfoliation takes many forms and here’s my selection of the Five Best ways to go about exfoliation at home.
Your Best Face Prep Microdermabrasion
Your Best Face Prep Microdermabrasion ($80 in the shop). A few years ago, YBF introduced this microdermabrasion treatment in a jar with exfoliating aluminum oxide crystals and it has been a breakout bestseller ever since. The formulation was recently upgraded with the brightening peptide, TEGO Pep-4 to even out the skin’s pigmentation. In a creamy base, the crystals are fine enough to be comfortable but do the job of leaving the skin soft. With outstanding ingredients for boosting elastin (Relistase) and collagen (Matrixyl 3000), Prep is also a mask that you’ll want to leave on before scrubbing off.
Dr Dennis Gross Original Alpha Beta Peel
Dr Dennis Gross Original Alpha Beta Peel ($88 in the shop). I am in love with this product. It is a daily, two-step system that deploys pre-moistened towelettes. Step one is the application of exfoliating AHAs (glycolic, citric, malic acids) and BHAs (salycilic acid), plus some green tea, copper PCA and chamomile. After two minutes a neutralizing and hydrating solution is applied with vitamins C and E, ubiquinone and retinol. Within a week or so, expect fresher complexion and wrinkle softening. Some people report tingling with step one, but not me (which is surprising since my skin is typically sensitive).
Trophy Skin Microderm MD
Trophy Skin Microderm MD($299 in the shop). When I saw this at-home microdermabrasion machine being demoed at an exposition earlier this year, I was stopped in my tracks. This was the nearest thing I had come across to a scaled down professional machine. Microderm MD uses diamond tips and – unusually for an at-home device – multiple levels of suction (and this is where its power resides). Fine lines and hyperpigmentation are visibly reduced. Best of all, a session takes less than five minutes.
La Vie Celeste Restorative Exfoliating Gel Mask
La Vie Celeste Restorative Exfoliating Gel Mask ($60 in the shop). A perennial Truth In Aging favorite and a mask that many of us keep returning to, it uses bamboo grains and “the purest grade” (according to LVC) 5% glycolic acid to exfoliate, without being harsh or abrasive. Glycolic's brightening and smoothing effects are given a helping hand by exfoliating bamboo grains, licorice and bearberry extract, which is loaded with alpha arbutin a natural (safer) hydroquinone. Organically sourced antioxidants include white tea (supposedly better than green tea) and melon.
Trophy Skin's Labelle Ultrasonic Skin Spatula
Trophy Skin Labelle Ultrasonic Skin Spatula ($149 in the shop). Finally we have gone beyond the cleansing brush. The Labelle uses ultrasound (and you know how much we love this technology) to combat acne, unclog pores, clear polluted or blackhead-prone skin and polish skin's texture. Regular use brings brightness and smoothness to the face and neck. You are in control by simply applying more or less pressure as you move the device over (wet) skin. A nice bonus is that the products that you apply afterwards will absorb much more efficiently.