If you’re in search of the fountain of youth, keeping up with the latest skincare breakthroughs can be a full-time job. With a growing number of experts questioning conventional beauty wisdom, many consumers are bewildered by even the most basic of skincare regimens—like exfoliation. While most believe it’s the key to a fresh, youthful complexion, some skincare professionals say it does more harm than good. Evergreen’s Dr. Ben Johnson, founder of the all-natural, paraben-free Osmosis skin care line, designs his products around the belief that skin is a naturally renewing protective barrier that shouldn’t be sloughed off. But ask the experts at Denver-based Glo Skincare about exfoliation, and they’ll likely hand you the GloPumpkin Enzyme Scrub to encourage a gentle out-with-the-old, in-with-the-new facial care regimen. What’s a girl—or a guy—to think? Below, the face-care face-off.
Glo Exfoliation renews skin tone and clarity by removing dead skin-cell buildup to allow for skin regeneration.
Osmosis Although exfoliation does speed cell turnover, it’s because the skin is trying to repair damage to its outermost layer caused by exfoliating ingredients.
Glo While over-exfoliating won’t benefit the skin, scientific studies have proven that rejuvenating ingredients such as glycolic and salicylic acids and retinols are safe and effective.
Osmosis These ingredients do provide plumping benefits—largely because they actually inflame the skin.
Glo Some rough-edged granules in skin scrubs can cause tears, so beads should be perfect spheres that can glide over the skin’s surface, gently exfoliating without stress or irritation.
Osmosis With any exfoliation comes inflammation, which starves the skin of nutrients and causes dehydration, ultimately accelerating the aging process and increasing the likelihood of skin cancer.
Verdict “The truth lies somewhere in between,” says Dr. Theresa Pacheco, medical director for cosmetic dermatology at the University of Colorado Cosmetic Specialists Clinic. “It really depends on the method. Manual exfoliation—if you were to use a loofah for two minutes—probably doesn’t inflame the skin. But there’s a point that’s too much, and inflammation would occur to repair that skin. Some methods can be pretty aggressive; remember, young skin turns over on its own every few days.”