As we come out on the sunnier side of months of harsh winter weather - your skin care routine needs to change with the seasons.

Think back - as the temperatures dropped, the layers piled on, and heaters were turned on high – your skin was prone to drying out. After days filled with painful chapped lips and flaking trouble areas - let’s leave that in the past, shall we?

Moving into a new season, you and your families’ skin may be calling out for a touch of spring cleaning. And fortunately, a regular dose of exfoliation may be just what you need to get your skin looking and feeling supple again.

Alike to any skin care product, exfoliants come in kinds and forms galore, and some of these may either love or hate your skin type. So, it’s important to consider your skins’ individual needs when making your choice. Also, keeping correct process in mind will make sure you walk out of your exfoliating session with skin clearer than the spring skies, and avoid causing damage or irritation.

The Benefits of Exfoliating

If you’re well amongst taking care of you and your families’ skin, you may already be including exfoliants in your skincare routines. And for good reason. After some time, the effect of not removing the old skin cells that build up through winter can make your complexion look noticeably lackluster. Your skin may look rough, dull, dry, or even accumulate enough to block pores and cause acne. Why, you ask?

“Cold air tightens the skin’s pores and reduces blood circulation. This reduces the naturally occurring oil known as sebum, which acts as a protective layer and traps moisture next to the skin. With humidity in the air lower during winter, the cumulative effect is that skin starts to dry out,” says Nurse Sylvia Chrzanowska.

Winter or not, if you’re prone to bouts of inflammation, a good cleanse might be your shining beam of light. Exfoliation is known for “increasing collagen production because of the removal of dead particles. By stimulating the lymphatic system with exfoliation, blood increases in that area and eliminates waste, which can reduce inflammation.” says dermatologist Denny Engleman.

All in all – saying goodbye to those dead skin cells through regular exfoliation will keep your skin looking fresh and healthy throughout the change of the seasons.

How to Use Exfoliants Properly

It’s time to wash all that drab skin down the drain. But with so much choice, how do you know what product is right for you, or other members of your family?

The general consensus is that chemical exfoliants – which remove dead particles through the use of natural chemicals which promote cell turnover – are less harmful and more effective than physical exfoliants.

If you’re ready to jump on the chemical exfoliant train, be sure to match your skin type to the right product – and primarily, those choices will be between BHA and AHA based exfoliants.

If you’re already lost, consider this analogy from Dr. Dennis Gross before reading on.

If your dead skin cells were a wall of bricks, with material fibres holding them together – AHAs would cause the fibres to detach immediately, whereas BHAs would slowly break the material down.

When coming out of winter, spring clean dry, normal to combination skin with an AHA based (alpha hydroxy acid) chemical exfoliant. Made from natural chemicals, AHAs separate the offending dead cells on the top layer of skin, making removal a breeze.

However, if you’re facing inflammation or acne from the winter season, AHAs likely won’t be the answer for you. Whilst strong on the surface layer, AHAs lack the ability to penetrate deeper into pores, and won’t be effective for those with sebum build up or bacterial issues.

This is where BHAs (beta hydroxy acids) come to the rescue. With anti-inflammatory and antibacterial effectiveness, BHAs are the perfect chemical exfoliant for oily, troublesome skin.

If you’re looking to introduce chemical exfoliants the younger members of your clan, start them off around the age of 13-15, and be sure to choose an exfoliant with lower levels of BHA or AHA.

Looking for a solution for more sensitive skin? Don’t fret. Keep an eye out for gentler exfoliants with fruit enzyme ingredients, such as papain and bromlain, to reap the benefits of chemical exfoliants, sans the stinging.

To use a chemical exfoliant to its best abilities, apply a thin layer to your skin, leave the product on for the time recommended, and rinse with warm water.

If you prefer to scrub away with a physical exfoliant – be sure to keep it gentle. Pick a product with smaller abrasives, as larger agents can cause micro-tears in the skin. When reaching for the physical exfoliant, use light circular motions to remove dead skin without causing damage, followed by a dose of warm water, before patting the skin dry.

Other Spring Skincare Steps

So, spring has sprung. Besides getting rid of the gunk, what else does that mean for your skincare routine?

With longer days, means more exposure to the sun’s rays, for skin both young and older. After exfoliation, be sure to use a light moisturizer beneath SPF 30+ sunscreen, to keep your skin hydrated and prevent signs of damage or aging from creeping up. Consider introducing skin food supplements into your routine, and keep up your intake of healthy food, to keep your skin glowing inside and out.