The English language is so creative. Sometimes it’s also very frustrating but it’s always creative. There is a word that helps describe the fantastic and colourful trees we see this time of year, and that word is “foliage.” For our title today, we couldn’t resist the play on words! So, if you plan on enjoying a fall drive to see the fall foliage, consider first treating your face to a seasonal fall “X-foliation!”

Summer can be both beautiful and harsh. Even the most careful among us might have a light bronzy glow but once September hits, things seem to change, like the trees do, literally overnight. Skin goes from radiant to dull and both the sun and other seasonal environmental elements cause discoloration. That’s where exfoliation comes into play. It’s time to slough that dead, dry skin away.

Exfoliation is basically the process or ridding your skin of old cells so that it can produce new ones. Exfoliating stimulates the body to begin repairing and rebuilding collagen, a key component to restoring your skin’s natural beauty. Unfortunately, as we get older, this process, which used to occur naturally in our youth, needs a bit of a boost as we age. Sun damage, either dry or oily skin and menopause all play a role in how quickly (or not) our skin regenerates. You might have blackheads, clogged pores, dry or flaky skin and uneven skin tone, all a result of aging and improper exfoliation. Simply incorporating this process into your routine however, will help restore your skin to its former glory – leaving a version that some people might even think has been photo-shopped! Like the trees get rid of old leaves, exfoliation is the key to cell regeneration, removing dead skin cells, decreasing the amount of breakouts you might experience and decelerating the aging process. Sounds like a miracle cure right? RIGHT!

Here’s how to do it.

Yes, there is a right way and a wrong way to exfoliate. You need to know about your AHA and your BHA acids and you need to play around and experiment a bit, to be sure you are using the right products for your individual skin. Just like one size doesn’t fit all and every tree changes a different colour in the fall, you need an exfoliant that best matches your individual skin care needs. Here is what I have learned from my extensive research and work in the field.

Acids have been used for a millennium or more as a beauty aid and in the last 50 years or so we’ve learned a lot and are more controlled in how we use them, making sure that they are safe. The two that I will be talking about today are AHA and BHA.

AHA is glycolic acid. It is the preferred “go to” acid for sun-damaged skin that is also dry and rarely experiences breakouts. That’s because it tends to exfoliate the top layers of skin only, evening out spots, scars and wrinkles, keeping the texture of your skin bright and smooth. It’s water-soluble, stimulates collagen production and increases the skin’s moisture-binding abilities.

BHA is salicylic acid. It’s best for oily skin, stubborn breakouts and for blackheads. That’s because it is oil soluble and penetrates deep into the pores loosening and unclogging trapped oil and dirt. Additionally, it has anti-inflammatory and anti bacterial properties, a definite bonus.

You may want to play around with the various strengths of products currently available on the market to find out what works best for you. As hinted at in one of my recent “teaser” blogs – you might even want to wait to see what my own skin care line will be offering! In the meantime, test products to eliminate irritation in the following way:

Test first on a patch of skin that is not already tender, inflamed or irritated.

Don’t test on the sensitive skin under your eye.

Only apply AFTER you have both cleansed and applied toner.

Apply BEFORE you use your moisturizer/serum/ eye cream or sunscreen.

Avoid direct contact with your eyes and/or eyelids.

If your test patch is tingly, over the short term that’s to be expected but if it continues either for a long time after your first application or causes redness, tender or inflamed skin over the longer term – you are likely using too strong an acid and need to switch to a more gentle version.

Once you’ve determined a product that works best for you, your face will literally begin to show the results, increasing cell turnover and giving you a healthy, radiant glow just like the spectacular fall foliage. What’s the big difference between you and fall however? Unlike the trees, your moment of glory won’t fade and fall away – you’ll just keep getting better and brighter!

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