Dear Derm: How Often Should I Exfoliate?

A radiant and clear complexion is possibly the most universal beauty goal. And yet, the rules of exfoliation are often somewhat muddled.

How do you know when you're doing too much? How much is enough, and could you be making your skin worse?

Kylie Jenner found herself at the epicentre of skincare-enthusiast backlash earlier this year when she released a Walnut Scrub in her inaugural collection, something that's long been dismissed as more harmful than helpful to the skin. 

(Note to self: don't mess with skincare superfans)

Indeed, exfoliation presents something of a Goldilocks problem for many. The sweet spot between being kind to your delicate skin barrier and still managing to slough off debris eludes many, and alarming expressions such as "micro-tears" being thrown around certainly doesn't help.

Irish Tatler asked Dublin-based skincare expert Ciara Darcy who broke it down into easy-to-read language for all those wondering whether to scrub or not to scrub. 

"Exfoliation depends on a few factors; your skin type and how concentrated the ingredients are in the product you've chosen," she begins.

"Forget about grainy scrubs and look for products containing glycolic acid (this eats away at the dead skin) and lactic acid (glycolic's gentler sister) in the exfoliating family.

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"Products containing Vitamin A also exfoliate the skin so try not to overdo it! If you do, your skin can get quite flaky and irritated.

"Introduce new products slowly and only leave them on for a couple of minutes until your skin gets used to them. I would start weekly exfoliation, gradually increasing it to two/three times a week. Regular exfoliation is fantastic for keeping your skin looking healthy and bright while also increasing cell renewal. Exfoliating too often can lead to redness and sensitivity.

"In some cases, rosacea which is inflammation and persistent redness. A skin consultation with a skin specialist is your best bet to get advice for your skin's needs."

For those who still remain unsure, or who fear that their overzealous exfoliation may damage their skin further – Ciara is also a dab-hand at facial peels, something that also encourages exfoliation and stimulations new cell growth. 

"The peels I do are light to medium depth," she says.

"Your skin immediately after looks so glowy, so much so that you'll want to wander around your local Tesco in hope that you bump into someone you know! There is minimal downtime; you must leave your skin free from products the day you have it done and no exercise for 24 hours. You can wear makeup the next day if you wish.

"I recommend having a peel done two weeks before an event, I feel like it takes 7 - 10 days to really see the results. It's an absolute game-changer if you've never had one done!"

Main image by @jourdandunn

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