We hope you'll consider supporting Temptalia by shopping through our links below. Thanks!
  • Giorgio Armani Beauty15% off all orders, plus free shipping on $75+ orders and free Lip Balm on $150+ orders with code SPRING, ends 3/28.
  • Lancome15% off $49+ orders with code FLASH, ends 3/30.

Exfoliation: An Essential Step in Your Skincare Routine

By Laura, 40s, New York, Skincare Contributor

Laura “came of age” in the 80s, so she considers a survivor of some very disturbing fashion and makeup trends, like shoulder pads, acid-washed jeans worn unironically, streaky blush, and thick eyeliner that we softened with a lighter before putting it on–don’t even get her started on what women wore to the gym in those days! She now works in a more conservative field, and she’ll get an odd look or two if she wears crackle nail polish (and she expects we’ll look back on that trend with the same disbelief we now reserve for horizontally-striped leg warmers).


Photo by Darwin Bell

Exfoliation: An Essential Step in Your Skincare Routine

As I’ve posted here before, I have a particularly galling skin type – namely, skin that’s not only middle-aged that I have to worry about fine lines but is still prone to oiliness and breakouts as well. For both issues, I find that exfoliation, which is a fancy word for removing the outer layer of skin, is essential for my skincare routine. Along with Retin-A cream, exfoliation has led to the greatest visible improvement in my skin. (Retin-A, incidentally, is not an exfoliant, contrary to popular belief.)

Exfoliation benefits most skin types, but if you have oily skin like me, you want to exfoliate to avoid blackheads, whiteheads, and pimples. Those skin problems result from an overabundance of sebum, which is a waxy substance produced by your skin’s sebaceous glands. Under normal circumstances, sebum is actually a good thing, since it reduces natural water loss from the skin. However, when your sebaceous glands overproduce sebum, it tends to clog the pores, not only with the sebum, but with skin cells and bacteria. By exfoliating–helping the skin cells to shed off your face–you help keep the pore from getting clogged, and with a little luck, no breakouts.

Exfoliation can also benefit sun-damaged skin by removing the thickened layer of skin that results from over-exposure to sun and makes your skin look ashy or sallow. As for dry skin, it can also benefit from exfoliation; the process helps shed skin cells, permitting moister skin cells to surface and make the skin look more dewy. Not incidentally, if you have dry skin, exfoliation will also help your skin absorb moisturizers better, as the dead skin cells fall away and no longer act as a barrier for the moisturizer.

So which exfoliants to use? I prefer chemical exfoliants (alpha hydroxy acids and beta hydroxy acid) instead of physical exfoliants (scrubs or plain old washcloths), since the latter don’t penetrate below the surface. For my oily and aging skin, I usually use a BHA, which is salicylic acid (yep, close to what’s in good old aspirin). Unlike AHAs, BHA not only exfoliates the outer layer of skin, but is also fat-soluble rather than water soluble, so that it gets inside the pore to get rid of all the stuff clogging it.

Your BHA product should have a concentration of one to two percent, with a pH of 3 to 4 (roughly as acidic as vinegar).  To be certain you’re getting an effective product, salicylic acid should be high up on the ingredient list. And although I know you’re using sunscreen every single day (you are, right? RIGHT?), you have to be extra careful to use a good sunscreen when you’re using a BHA, because BHAs increase sun sensitivity. My own favorite BHA is Paula’s Choice Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Gel Exfoliant  ($18.95), which is formulated for oily skin.

I also like to use an AHA product once or twice a week; I notice a definite difference in the suppleness of my skin when I do. Again, you want to make sure your product has the right amount of AHAs to benefit your skin: five to eight percent AHA and a pH of 3 to 4, so that it has enough acidity to be effective (look for fruit acid high on the ingredients list). As with BHA, make very certain you’re using a proper sunscreen, as AHAs can also increase sun sensitivity. My current favorite AHA product is Olay’s Regenerist Night Resurfacing Elixir ($29.99).

A couple of caveats: I don’t use an AHA and BHA together, and I don’t generally exfoliate every night, since I do notice that if I don’t take a little break, my skin will sometimes get flaky–not exactly the look I’m striving for!

What are your favorite exfoliants?

We hope you'll consider supporting Temptalia by shopping through our links below. Thanks!

Do you have a question idea? Submit yours here.

NARS Paramaribo Eyeshadow Duo

NARS Paramaribo Eyeshadow Duo
NARS Paramaribo Eyeshadow Duo

NARS Spring 2012: Paramaribo Eyeshadow Duo

NARS Paramaribo Eyeshadow Duo ($34.00 for 0.14 oz.) is described as “metallic shades of brass and bronze.” For whatever reason, this is one of the few limited edition shades for spring, which is totally too bad–it’s a gorgeous product and my favorite from the spring collection.

The first shade is a rich golden brass with a metallic-frost finish. It’s really smooth, opaque, and easy to work with. The way it binds together makes for a really adhesive, longer-wearing product, too. Make Up For Ever #11 is less golden in a way. OCC Cruising is darker, less yellow. Le Metier de Beaute Chameleon is browner. It also reminded me of the golden tones from MAC Golden Gaze. Urban Decay Rush is much browner.

The second shade is a softened bronze-shimmered brown. This shade is extremely soft and finely-milled, so it feels like silk against the skin and melts like butter once applied. Urban Decay Rush is not quite as dark. Giorgio Armani Khaki Pulse is less warm-toned. MAC Romp is more orange-toned. Urban Decay Deeper is similar. Urban Decay Smog is slightly less golden shimmered.

This eyeshadow formula is supposed to be crease-resistant, long-wearing, and highly pigmented.  Without a primer, they do look a little faded and have minor, but noticeable, creasing after eight hours of wear.  I don’t encounter those problems, typically, over a primer.  Some of the lighter, more powdery shades do fade a bit over a primer, but neither of these shades are like that.  The powders for both shades really bind together well, so they adhere better to the skin.

NARS Paramaribo Eyeshadow Duo

A-
8.5
Product
10
Pigmentation
10
Texture
8.5
Longevity
4.5
Application
92%
Total

We hope you'll consider supporting Temptalia by shopping through our links below. Thanks!

NARS Mexican Rose Velvet Gloss Lip Pencil

NARS Mexican Rose Velvet Gloss Lip Pencil
NARS Mexican Rose Velvet Gloss Lip Pencil

NARS Spring 2012: Mexican Rose Velvet Gloss Lip Pencil

NARS Mexican Rose Velvet Gloss Lip Pencil ($24.00 for 0.09 oz.) is described as a “hot pink.” It’s new and permanent, just in time for spring. It’s a glossy raspberry pink with a touch of sheerness but is still very pigmented for a gloss and, overall, nearly opaque. There’s a shiny finish that makes the lips look almost wet. MAC Scandelicious is brighter, pinker. MAC Radiant Jewels is similar but less opaque and even. NARS Hot Wired is redder and has a shimmery iridescence. Lancome Electric Pink is a bit lighter and has shimmer.

I reviewed the formula in-depth here. I wore Mexican Rose to test out the wear, though, and it wore for three and a half hours. It’s comfortable to wear, because it has the texture of lip balm–thin, lightweight–but the high-gloss shine of your favorite lipgloss. You won’t get quite the lush lip look without some of the cushion-like texture of a true gloss, but you do get a good amount of added luminosity and fullness from the shine. I also really loved how evenly this applied.

The major downside is that these are not twist-up pencils, so they require sharpening. With the softness of the pencil (which actually broke on me while I was applying it for swatching), you’ll waste a lot if you don’t freeze them (many readers have said they had good luck freezing pencils like this!).

NARS Velvet Gloss Lip Pencil Mexican Rose

NARS Spring 2012: Bilbao Lipstick

NARS Bilbao Lipstick
NARS Bilbao Lipstick

NARS Spring 2012: Bilbao Lipstick

NARS Bilbao Lipstick ($24.00 for 0.12 oz.) is described as a “shimmering topaz.” It’s a soft, shimmery dusty beige. Though it seems like there’s some sheerness when swatched, it’s rather opaque on lips. On my lips, it takes on more of a peachy-nude appearance with yellowy-gold shimmer. NARS Pago Pago seems a bit more orange. MAC Lush Amber is more orange. Clarins Rosewood is darker and has more rosiness in it. MAC Martha is darker. MAC Viva Glam V seems quite similar but has less of a golden sheen. Chanel Stunning is not quite as pink.

Bilbao wore for three and half hours well and lingered to four before needing a reapplication. It was comfortable to wear, without being drying (though not particularly hydrating), and felt lightweight. The consistency is creamy, so it glides across the lips easily without tugging or dragging. NARS’ lipsticks are scent- and taste-free.

NARS Spring 2012: Bilbao Lipstick

A-
9
Product
10
Pigmentation
9.5
Texture
8
Longevity
4
Application
90%
Total

On Instagram