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The ‘why’ and ‘when’ of exfoliating in the winter

There’s no need to say it twice: exposed facial skin plus harsh winter winds usually equal a dry and less-than-glowing appearance. If you’re not already in the habit of exfoliating on the regular, there’s no time like the present to pick up this healthy beauty habit. Then again, some of you might be scrubbing away too harshly for your own good. Winter does require you to exfoliate your skin more frequently, but only in a certain way (just imagine Mr. Miagi teaching you to “wax on,” “wax off” with delicate precision). If you’re not sure how to go about learning this sacred art, here’s the “why” and “when” of exfoliating in the winter to help you get started on the right path.

Why: Your skin needs the dead, flaky stuff cleared out of the way before it can function properly and look its best. Exfoliating is important for keeping your complexion bright all year round, but we’re even more prone to accumulating dead, flaky skin when the weather is sapping it of all its moisture. Some experts even believe that exfoliation is necessary for removing toxins from your system, but we’d say that even just the whole “looking good” part is reason enough to pick up a tube of sugar scrub.

When: Okay, here comes the slightly tricky part. Yes, you’re supposed to exfoliate more often in the winter – many experts recommend it once or twice a week only. BUT – and this is a very big but – you should take care not to confuse dryness and dullness with irritation. Sometimes, cracked, irritated winter skin can look flaky, but what skin like this actually needs is extra moisture, not a harsh scrubbing agent. Exfoliating irritated skin is only likely to make the problem worse – replenishing it with moisture will generally take care of that whole flaky appearance on its own. How can you tell the difference? Usually irritated skin comes with a certain amount of redness, whereas scrub-ready skin will just be dull and lifeless looking.

Once you’ve determined that your skin is ready for some scrubbing action, pick a product that’s well-equipped to deliver a karate-sized kick to those dead skin cells. Microdermabrasion is one of the most potent types of exfoliating products, but those with gentler needs might wish to try a basic scrub.

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Lauren Stewart
By: Lauren Stewart

Lauren Stewart is a freelancer writer from Michigan. She enjoys writing about beauty, health and fitness! She is passionate about learning new ways to take control of her health and wellness and is a makeup and skincare junkie! You can contact her by emailing