Frame Magazine


It’s cold and windy, and you probably have more than a few flaky patches on your face. But while you’d love to slough them off and reveal those under-layers of smooth, polished skin, you might find yourself wondering, Is it actually OK to exfoliate in winter, or will I totally dry out? You’re not alone. I’ve always been hesitant to touch anything remotely abrasive to my face from November to March for fear of further exposing my already parched skin to the elements. But after years of wondering why my fancy face oils weren’t doing much to give me the supple, flake-free skin they promised, I asked a skin care expert if exfoliation could be the missing element in my winter skin care routine. Turns out, it 100 percent was. Even in winter, you should be exfoliating “at a minimum once per week,” says Britta Plug, holistic esthetician and skin care expert. Potentially more, depending on the product. “Thanks to the cold and dry air, that top outer layer of skin constricts and dries up. So when we apply our beautiful hydrators and oils, they can’t actually penetrate to where they need to be,” says Plug. “Exfoliation is very important to improving the moisture levels in our skin.” For people with congested skin (think: bumpy skin, blackheads, and whiteheads), winter exfoliation is particularly beneficial. “People often don’t understand how their skin is dry and congested at the same time,” says Plug. “Our skin has all these layers, and the oils need to come up and out. But if your outer layer of skin is dry, that congestion gets locked under the surface.” That said, you don’t want to overdo it in the exfoliation department either—just because some is good, more isn’t better. “If it’s a high-concentration acid-based exfoliator [containing AHAs and/or BHAs], a strong enzyme formulation, or a super-gritty physical exfoliant, you don’t want to do it every day,” warns Plug. “If it’s a lower concentration, or something with a very fine grit or polish, that’s suitable for more frequent use.” When in doubt, she says, default to the directions. Of course, not all exfoliants are created equal, and some are particularly well-suited for irritated winter skin. (By Stephanie Eckelkamp)