This question is asked by more and more people, and for good reason. The bottom line is that some skin care enthusiasts exfoliate and mask far too often, resulting in damage to their skin that can be severe. There is clear evidence that daily exfoliation and masking is fine - IF the right products are used.
So what are the “right products?” The key word is gentle - gentle enough for daily use without fear of harming the skin. Before getting into specific ingredients, however, it’s probably a good idea to discuss why exfoliation is ineeded in the first place.
Throughout the day, your skin is replacing dead cells with new ones, while also producing sebum to hydrate and protect itself. As skin cells die off, they form dull, dry skin. By exfoliating, you’re removing those dead skin cells, along with dirt, debris, and any bacteria on your skin that can help form acne.
While there are other things that you need to do to keep your skin looking its best, the first order of business is washing your face. Most people develop their own skin care routine that includes these basics: washing, toning, and replacing the moisture that is lost.
It is important to remember that nothing happens overnight! It takes time to gain all the benefits of building a skin care routine. How long? Most experts would tell you that a realistic goal is six months before you notice the benefits of your own skincare routine.
While cleansing is the most basic part of any skincare routine, it is also the most critical step you need to take. Just think about all of the things that your skin comes into contact with - smoke, pollution, dirt, grime, oil, and the list goes on. So the best thing you can do to keep your face cleansed is to wash it twice a day: morning and evening.
The key is that there isn’t one size fits all when it comes to skin cleansers. Your skin type will determine what is the right cleanser to use. For example, if you have oily skin and you often have acne, use a foaming liquid. If you have dry skin and you’re fighting eczema all the time, use a cream or lotion type cleanser. Sensitive skin? Use an oil-based cleanser. And for any skin type, micellar water works wonders.
Some people religiously apply a mask on their face at night, but others stick to toning as a follow-up to cleansing. So what is a toner? In the old days, a toner was basically an astringent and was primarily alcohol-based.
The toners used today are less astringent, they're nutrient-rich liquids that help to balance the skin and facilitate the absorption of other products such as a serum or moisturizer.
Always use a toner after you cleanse and prior to doing anything else to your skin.
Masks are available in a variety of applications, including sheets, powders, gels, and creams. They’re designed to treat a variety of skin problems, including oily skin, wrinkles, age spots and more.
The reason they’re so popular is that the ingredients are absorbed more efficiently than any other means of application. And to say that masks are popular is putting it mildly - over 60 new types of masks were launched in just the past several months, bringing the total to over 400 different types of masks!
Sheet masks are incredibly popular in the cosmetics industry right now. They’re used to gently exfoliate the skin and promote a brighter, healthier complexion.
Mud and clay masks are designed to do the same thing - exfoliate. And there are also many different masks available that are made with food ingredients, including fruit, chocolates, avocado, oatmeal, and more.
Cleansing, toning and masking should be done on a daily basis, again, with the right products for your skin type. After these three important steps, skin is perfectly clean and balanced (remember to tone again after you wash off your mask) and ready for nutrient-rich serums that can tackle specific concerns.
Use a hyaluronic acid serum to efficiently hydrate your skin, a vitamin C serum to decrease dark spots and help brighten the skin, a retinol serum to help produce collagen and elastin in the skin or a product with niacinamide to help reduce irritation and redness.
The last piece of the skin care puzzle is moisturizing. And just like cleansers and exfoliators, moisturizers are designed for specific skin types.
There are actually two different types of moisturizing creams - a “day” cream and a “night” cream. Apply the day cream to protect your skin from all of the environmental toxins you’re going to face each day, like smoke, pollution, dirt and grime, oil, and other types of skin pollutants.
When you apply a night cream you’re working to repair the damage that was done to the skin during the day, helping promote new cell growth, remove age spots, and help fix other skin issues. And of course, it moisturizes the skin.
People also often use an eye cream to eliminate the dry, puffy skin around the eyes. The skin around the eyes is quite thin, delicate, and easily irritated. To reduce any inflammation or puffiness, use creams with caffeine, peptides, and powerful moisturizers like hyaluronic acid. Vitamin C is also helpful for brightening the area and helping to remove discolorations that often appear there.
So what type of moisturizer should you choose?
There are several key ingredients that do the job well: occlusives that help stop water from evaporating from the skin, and humectants which work to pull water from the deeper layers of the skin and from the environment as well. A good product will have both types of ingredients, to help your skin look its best and feel soft and youthful.
There's a lot of buzz lately about people who craft complicated skincare routines and perform them too often - to the point of a care routine becoming an addiction.
There are many social media posts and stories about people who have become so obsessed with their beauty care routine that it borders on dangerous. They’re unable to stop using countless products many times a day.
And it’s not just the routine performed too often, but the products themselves that can cause harm. After all, in some products you’re subjecting your face and skin to harmful chemicals that can cause irritation, redness, and even skin damage.
Be sure you check the label of any product you purchase to make sure that the personal care products you’re buying don’t have harmful ingredients.
You don't need to be exfoliating or masking more than once a day, doing those steps twice or more a day could be prompting your skin to be creating sebum to protect itself (from your routine and products) and less, in this case, is more as skin can better retain its pH balance.
And moisturizing more than twice a day could lead to clogged pores, breakouts, dull skin, or uneven textures.
One thing that all experts agree on - is using a sunscreen as part of any skincare routine. Prevention can eliminate many skin problems, especially premature aging. And the higher the SPF number, the better!
Remember, any skincare routine takes time to show effects, but at least you now know the correct answers to the question: “How often should I exfoliate and mask?”