Do your skin a favour

Before you pick just any old scrub for your face based solely on whether you have oily or dry skin, keep these expert-recommended tips in mind so you shop right

Published - September 11, 2017 02:59 pm IST

Mature woman making cosmetic mask from coffee, sour cream.

Mature woman making cosmetic mask from coffee, sour cream.

That once-a-week face scrub is possibly something you often vow to do but totally forget, until the product passes its expiry date and you simply bin it. But experts say it’s the second level of anti-ageing care, after daily sunscreen, face wash and moisturiser. After you hit your 30s, it’s especially important to boost the skin regeneration process, and a scrub helps.

“Apart from removing dead skin cells that form on the surface of your skin, it does a lot to keep the skin looking and feeling smooth. Whether it’s grime from a long day’s work, or a sweat build-up from a gym session, exfoliating your skin will give it a mini clean-up at home, prepping it for the next step, which is applying moisturiser,” says Dr Shefali Trasi Nerurkar, Mumbai-based dermatologist.

She warns against over-scrubbing (applying too much pressure, doing it more than once a week, or over a couple of minutes) as this can cause micro-tears. Scrubs should be applied gently, and, contrary to the product name, should not be scrubbed onto the face, but gently rubbed.

Exfoliation at night is better than the day, and you can thereafter apply any product or moisturiser prescribed by your doctor. Don’t exfoliate your skin if you’re prone to pigmentation, get easily sun-burned, have open cuts or wounds, have eczema, atopic dermatitis, sun allergies, psoriasis, bacterial or fungal infections, or other skin diseases.

Picking the right one is just as important. You definitely want to avoid skin irritation and break-outs. As a thumb rule, avoid scrubs that contain large and/or abrasive beads and choose a gentle one with small beads for your face. “These are harsh and have granules with sharp edges,” says Dr Nina Madnani, Mumbai-based dermatologist.

Then there’s skin type. Pick up a scrub that suits your skin type. “Each skin has its own characteristics and needs. Over exfoliating or exfoliating with the wrong product for your skin type can wreak havoc with your skin, making it sensitive and doing more damage than good,” says Dr Rinky Kapoor, a dermato-surgeon in Fortis Hospitals, Mumbai. Here’s a rough guide.

Pimple-prone skin needs a scrub which can help regulate skin shedding and oil production, as well as clear clogged pores, while treating active acne and improving scars. Avoid harsh exfoliation. So alpha or beta hydroxy acid-containing exfoliators are best.

Combination skin that has an oily T-zone, but a dry forehead requires dual action exfoliation. Stick with a physical exfoliator or try a light chemical exfoliator. If you prefer to use a product that will treat the oil, use a cleanser with alpha hydroxy acid (AHA). This will gently exfoliate, preventing pores from getting clogged with oil and dead skin cells.

Combination skin that is normal to dry can use medium-grade scrubbing particles, as this type of skin is less sensitive to exfoliation and won’t be irritated by acne.

Dry skin can use an exfoliating product that hydrates and removes dead skin cell at the same time. It should contain highly moisturising ingredients, like hyaluronic acid, to help seal in hydration.

Ageing skin has a slow skin cell turnover. So a product that will help increase skin-firming collagen, reduce pigmentation and slough off dead cells, without stripping skin of moisture, is needed. Try a physical exfoliator with super-fine particles like a micro dermabrasion scrub (usually rich in vitamin C), and aim to work in chemical exfoliation as well. Chemical exfoliators can penetrate skin deeper to improve the appearance of fine lines. Products that pack a combination of AHA and BHA acids will be your best bet.

Sensitive skin needs an extremely gentle product, without aggressive ingredients such as synthetic acids and physical scrubs, so that it doesn’t cause inflamed skin. Use products that contain natural or organic healing properties, such as turmeric.

Normal skin can do with a variety of exfoliators, chemical or physical, depending on what they feel suits them better. Try fine particles and look for words like ‘buffing’ on the product.

Oily skin may need exfoliation twice a week. Pick up a multitasking scrub, which prevents your pores from getting clogged and balances out the oil on your face. Look for one with small particles and flower or fruit extracts, such as apricot, pineapple or magnolia, that help open your pores and prevent scarring. Try a product with salicylic acid, a deep cleansing agent that cleans out clogged pores.

Normal to dry skin once a week is more than enough. Frequently exfoliating skin with breakouts can have an adverse effect, leading to more irritation and pimples.

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