By Megan Kirkwood
Switching up your cleansing and exfoliating arsenal based on your skin’s ever changing needs is a crucial step to not only guarantee properly cleansed skin but also ensure you cater to your complexion’s evolving issues, which could include sensitivity, dryness, acne, and aging. “Proper exfoliation is one of the easiest and least expensive ways to better-looking, healthier skin,” says dermatologist Dr. Lisa Kellett of Toronto’s DLK on Avenue. Since there are so many cleansing options available, it’s a good idea to break down your skin’s needs as you age: what you require in your 30’s won’t be as applicable in your 40’s or 50’s.
30’s True or False?
“Using a fancy, sonic face brush every day will leave me with the smoothest, softest skin yet.”
False: Daily use of an automated facial brush does not automatically equal gorgeous, glowing skin. When using these types of “power tools” on your face, it’s important to remember that they’re not just cleansing your skin but also exfoliating on a deeper level. “Using an exfoliating device in combination with other chemical or mechanical exfoliants can lead to irritation,” says Dr. Kellett.
If you’re prone to acne and cold sores, you’ll also want to think twice to avoid increasing inflammation in your skin and even spreading an active virus to other parts of your face. Since exfoliating every day can be too irritating for most people, consider treating a sonic tool as a special treatment and only use it a couple of times a week. Remember to look for devices that target sensitive skin, and cleanse and replace the brush heads regularly to avoid nasty bacteria.
“Give the brush heads a good cleaning with antibacterial soap every time the unit needs to be recharged, which is usually every two weeks. The brush heads should be replaced no less than twice annually, but seasonally or four times a year is best,” says Dr. Tina Alster, director of the Washington Institute of Dermatologic Laser Surgery and clinical professor of dermatology at Georgetown University Medical Centre.
When you’re not using a special facial brush, you can safely exfoliate every day with a cleanser that contains mechanical exfoliants, such as small beads or seeds, or chemical exfoliants such as alpha hydroxyl acids (watch for glycolic, citric or lactic acids on the label). “When shopping for an exfoliating cleanser, look for a non-foaming, gel based formula, which won’t be overly drying to the skin,” says Dr. Kellett.
Using these types of formulas at night will also help to effectively cleanse skin after makeup and prepare it for your night serum or cream. It’s also important to restrict chemical exfoliants to night use to avoid irritation when going out in the sun- although you’ll still want to ensure you’re protecting yourself with a daily SPF. After any exfoliating session, be sure to moisturize immediately while your skin is still damp so that the active ingredients can be absorbed.
40’s True or False?
“I’ve been using the same cleanser for over a decade; it’s time to try something new.”
True: Once you hit your 40’s, your skin naturally starts to become dryer and more irritation-prone, but its condition can vary daily, depending on the environment, your skin type and even where you are in your menstrual cycle, says Dr. Kellett. Think about treating your skin with more moisturizing cleansers and avoiding harsh formulas that can contribute to sensitivity.
“It’s best to avoid scrubs or exfoliants with high concentrations of acids,” says Dr. Alster. You can still use a sonic facial brush, but limit its use to avoid over-exfoliating.
When cleansing your face on a twice–daily basis, stick to creamy oil-based, soap-free formulas that are as hydrating as possible, with ingredients such as aloe, coconut oil and vitamin E.
“When using gel cleansers, the skin can become too dry, making it look old and more prone to irritation,” she says.
Since your skin tends to be dryer, you may also notice flaky patched that you’ll want to buff away on a regular basis to maintain a smooth, radiant complexion. A couple of times a week, try using an exfoliating facial wipe in the early evening- say, when you remove your makeup after work – to ensure a deep clean while also ditching dead skin cells.
“Spreading out the use of skin–irritating ingredients helps to protect your complexion and is especially useful when using an anti-aging formula overnight, such as a night cream with vitamin A,” says Dr. Kellett. If you find your skin is feeling extra-dry and papery, you can also skip the morning cleansing and simply splash with warm water before applying moisturizer if you already washed your face before bed the night before.
50’s True or False:
“Oily cleansers are good for removing makeup but can clog my pores and leave my skin with a greasy residue.”
False: Oil cleansers are extremely effective at removing not only makeup but also the skin’s excess sebum. When used correctly, they rinse skin clean and help moisturize it, making them ideal for older, drier skin.
“Oil attracts and removes oil, so when you cleanse with clean oil, it lifts and replaces the dirty oil or sebum residing on the skin’s surface. When you use a formula with botanical oils, which are rich in vitamins, low in molecular weight and non-comedogenic, such as olive, black currant or sesame oil, they absorb into the skin and help nourish it without any residue,” says Richard Pietz, global director of product development for Jurlique.
The key to properly attracting and drawing out the impure oil from your skin is to apply cleanser while your face is completely dry. Massage it into the skin to remove residue, then wet your fingers with water and continue to massage until the cleanser turns milky. Finally, rinse it off.
Using a balm-like cleanser with a baby washcloth or muslin is also very soothing and will work twofold by simultaneously exfoliating- just avoid any scrubbing motions or regular washcloths, which can irritate the skin, says Dr. Alster.
Pumping up your skin with hydration is key to maintaining a glowing complexion. To max out on moisture, trade your usual night cream for a mega- hydrating mask. Look for formulas with ingredients such as hyaluronic acid, glycerin, and shea butter. Once a week before bedtime cleansing, use an exfoliating mask that contains calming ingredients such as green tea and cucumber, but no acids.