December 23, 2005



Exfoliation is the process of scrubbing off dead skin cells to reveal and expose "younger," fresher skin. The shedding process unclogs pores, keeps skin clean and helps reduce acne breakouts. It's usually the first step in cleaning your face, to be followed by washing your face with soap (preferably one with hypoallergenic properties) and finally, moisturizing.

The skin on your face is quite different from that of a woman's. It contains larger pores, whiskers, more collagen and elastin (fibrous proteins that help hold everything together), a denser supply of blood vessels, and it produces more sweat. Put all these factors together and a guy's face can attract a fair amount of dirt.
So, the most important component of any good facial exfoliation routine is the cleanser/foamer. Brands that sell top-notch affordable cleansers include Clinique,, Baxter of California, and Nivea for Men.

Most of these products contain some combination of granulated pumice, sea salts, fruit seeds, salicylic acid, alpha-hydroxy acid, and beta hydroxy acid, all of which serve to loosen and slough off dead skin cells. Some even aid in the formation of collagen.
To get the most out of your exfoliating cleanser -- and to help work it into a good lather -- you should use one of the following methods of application.

Exfoliating gloves: Okay, these reusable nylon gloves are more suitable for women, but they work. Just put them on and gently rub the cleanser around your face. The gloves' massaging motion will also improve circulation and open pores. Just keep in mind the fact that you use them on the down low...

Sponge: An abrasive sponge, or loofa (a sponge made from the dried fibrous part of the loofa plant), works the same way as gloves, but it has the advantage of whipping the exfoliating cleanser into a richer lather that gets deeper into the pores and the skin's upper layers.

Exfoliating mask: This is a plaster-like concoction that goes on your face as a liquid goop, hardens, and then peels off to remove dead skin cells, dirt, whiteheads, etc. It can be pricey (not to mention girlie), but its thoroughness more than makes up for it.

Pumice soap: This is an inexpensive exfoliation classic -- it's a bar soap that includes granulated volcanic ash that really scrubs hard. The only disadvantage is that pumice soaps require a fair amount of scrubbing to get a good lather going.

Note: However you choose to exfoliate, don't forget to moisturize. Exfoliating can dry out already dry skin, but a moisturizer will help stabilize your skin and "feed" the new, young skin you've exposed.

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