When we are younger, we learn that scrubbing our faces with apricot scrub will magically remove acne, discoloration, oil and reveal the beautiful skin we were born with. The problem here is, as I got older I clung on to that routine. Up until VERY recently I scrubbed my face DAILY with a scrubber that was more Brillo than beauty tool. You know what happens? You not only remove the layer of dull skin but you strip out almost all moisture as well as leave your skin inflamed and more susceptible to breakouts. The more I scrubbed the worse my skin got. When the cold weather hit my jawline looked like an aerial view of Death Valley. No amount of $300 an ounce miracle in a jar could replace what I strip-mined out of my face.
Time to upgrade ladies! Because we are Over-40 and need to 1) prevent future damage and 2) fix past damage exfoliation will always be a critical part of our beauty routine. The key is that our tools need to change, so let’s take a look at do’s and don’ts of exfoliation!
Part 1 & Part 3 of this series are linked at the bottom of the page.
As an Over-40 I swap between mechanical, enzyme and chemical exfoliation methods to keep my skin in top shape. I also only exfoliate once (rarely twice) a week rather than 2-3 times a week in the summer. (I feel the summer is harder on my skin because of the amount of sunblock I use.) Some skin can’t handle that amount of scrub-down, so adjust your routine according to your own face. Here are some of my tried-and-true favorites:
Yes, we can still use the ‘scrubbers’ but my new rule of thumb is that if I can SEE the particles in the exfoliating face scrub then it’s going to be too abrasive for Over-40 skin. The easiest solution is to use your regular cleanser and scrub it around your face with a wash cloth. This light level of dead skin removal might be all that you need!
- Juice Beauty Exfoliating Cleanser – Loaded with pineapple (see enzyme section below), shea butter (ahhhh winter skin) and antioxidants retinyl palmitate (vitamin A), ascorbyl palmitate (vitamin C), this cleanser has ‘disappearing’ jojoba beads to get to the new skin underneath.
- Yes to Blueberries Facial Softening Exfoliator – I love this company! (It all started with their chapstick for me.) Blueberries kick in with enzymes and antioxidants while gentle exfoliating beads derived from corn help scrub away dead skin. Can be a bit tough for sensitive skin.
It’s time to find beauty in the produce aisle! Pumpkin, cranberry, papaya, pineapple, kiwi, strawberry, and avocado are all great for your face – IF you know the right ones to choose. The use of fruit enzymes is highly utilized by beauty product manufacturers but the enzymes are volatile and ‘go weak’ very quickly. Fresh is best, and there is no fresher way than to hit the farm stand and get it straight from nature. Because using fresh fruit as a facial treatment is much slower than mechanical or chemical methods, it makes them a great choice for mature skin.
- Pineapple – Contains bromelain, considered the strongest of enzyme skin care. Can also help inflammation if applied topically.
- Papaya – Contains papain, a commonly-used enzyme in beauty products, and so potent that the FDA regulates its use in over the counter products. Luckily we can just grab some at the grocery store! The fruit was recommended to me to treat a large (5″) scar on my arm and it worked amazingly to reduce the redness and puffiness. I took a slice, fresh, and smeared it on my scar (I started about three months after I had surgery on my arm) and then ate the rest! If it can help diminish a nasty scar it can do wonders on my skin!
- Avocado – There are plenty of recipes online for DIY avocado face and hair masks and it’s for good reason – they work! Take a fresh avocado and mash it up with a bit of milk, water, honey, yogurt or even apricot and smear it on your face washing off after 10 minutes.
As always, if you are allergic to the food, don’t put it on your skin! Start simple and see how your skin reacts then play around with different fruit or recipes.
What you really need to know is that this is the area where chemical peels live. Ouch. Sounds painful. For some reason when I was younger I imagined blech on my face. In reality you need to use chemical exfoliation / peels to get deeper into the layers of your skin than is possible with just smearing fruit on your face.
Right now this is my only go-to winter skin peel I use because it is effective but strong.
- AmorePacific Treatment Enzyme Peel – Can I just tell you this product smells amazing. I received a small sample from my Sephora points and went and purchased a full size bottle after using it just three times. My skin feels smooth, soft and firmer after using it. I wash my face then pour about 1/4 teaspoon of the powder in my hand – the product needs to be water activated – and apply it like face cleanser. It foams up a bit, just enough to let it stick to your face for 10 minutes or so before rinsing.
Want more tips? Check out the rest:
- Part 1: Lack of Moisture
- Part 3: Environmental Stress (publishing soon)