Best Face Forward

6.22.2011

By Out.com Editors

Want a bright, clear complexion? Exfoliation is key.

By the time you reach your mid-twenties, your body has fully matured. Unfortunately, the aging process begins right around there, too. That means men who want to look their sharpest have to start putting in a little extra effort to fight against the toll time can take. Your daily grooming rituals are beneficial on their own -- shaving, after all, is an exfoliating process in and of itself -- but there are additional options you can take advantage of when it comes to exfoliation.

Exfoliation is important, as people tend to produce around a billion skin cells every day. If the dead cells linger on your epidermis for too long, skin will look dull and dry. In order to achieve a bright, clear complexion, exfoliation is key. Let's take a moment to break down the two types of exfoliation (manual scrubs and chemical treatments/enzymes) so that you can decide which is better suited to you.

Manual/mechanical scrubs
- These products are topical scrubs gently applied to your skin and rubbed with your fingers (or an applicator) to slough and buff away dead cells to reveal the softness and glow of the skin beneath. A buff puff or washcloth may be used as well.
- Ingredients can include anything from apricot pits, oyster shells, and seeds. While microbeads and polyspheres, available in many over-the-counter cleansers, are gentle and kind to your skin, you can also use paraffin or wax, which will both form small balls of debris that can then be easily flaked off your skin.

Chemical treatments
- Manual exfoliators aren't ideal for severe acne or broken capillaries. In these situations, a chemical treatment is recommended.
- Most of these treatments take advantage of alpha hydroxy acids usually derived from natural sources like lactic acid (milk), malic acid (apples), glycolic acid (sugar cane), and tartaric acid (grapes).
- Lower strengths will promote general exfoliation, while higher strengths are excellent treatments for acne and other skin conditions.
- These treatments are also ideal for sensitive skin that can't tolerate the pressure or friction that often accompany manual exfoliation.

Some general tips:
- Once you've found an exfoliating product that gives you good results, use it two to three times a week for maximum results. Using more can often irritate the skin.
- You should see results even after the first treatment.
- Be sure to wear sunscreen. Exfoliation makes you more sensitive to the sun since you've removed a layer of dead cells.

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