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Exfoliating in Summer

Updated: Aug 15, 2023

Exfoliation is beneficial for the skin to keep skin looking fresh and glowing. It should be done on a regular basis, but why is it a more crucial step to have during the summer?




When we exfoliate, skin is made fresher by removing the uppermost layer of dead skin cells that build up on your skin. Desquamation is a natural process in which these corneocytes shed by themselves, but they do sometimes need a little push in order to speed up the process and effectively prevent skin dryness, dullness and clogged pores. This is especially true as our skin matures because the rate of cell turnover slows down. As new skin cell production slows down the skin tries to hold on to the older surface cells. This often results in a build up of a dull surface layer that contribute to dryness and a lackluster appearance.


During summer the rate of new cell production increases which leads to extra surface layers that need to be removed. Sunlight has a keratolytic effect on skin cells, which means skin cell production increases when you're in the sun and heat because your skin is trying to protect itself from DNA damage from the sun. But a long day at the beach slows the rate of surface cells that desquamate. This leads to more dead skin cell buildup left on the skin’s surface. With a mixture of this and increased sebum (especially during humid conditions and increased production of sweat) some skins end up with oilier skin and more clogged pores filled with dirt, sebum, grime and makeup, as well as environmental pollutants and an increased the risk of breakouts for certain skin types. With all this going on you may find you get through the summer okay but when weather gets cooler in the fall the oil and dead cells become congealed. This increases your risk of breakouts in the fall. This is why September is the most prevalent month for dealing with acne. When exfoliating regularly in summer, you are removing this build up and smoothing out your skin. Removing those older surface cells sends a message to basil cells (cells at the basement layer of the epidermis) to rev up new cell production. This process is enhanced with regular use of exfoliating alpha hydroxy acids and retinoids.


Skin cells have a memory. Pigmentation changes caused by the sun become more permanent the longer they are left on the skin. This is when spa peels can be really beneficial for the future of your skin. The strength of the peel is dependent on your skin type and condition. While salicylic acid peels are great for thicker, acne prone skin, a milder lactic acid peel is better for more mature, dehydrated or pigmented skin. Summer is a great time for a Vitamin C peel which offers antioxidant protection, helps with new collagen formation and reduces pigmentation. The key here is to put your trust in an esthetician who is experienced in choosing the right peel for your skin type. The peel can be a little stingy upon application but should dissipate quickly. Prolonged inflammation can lead to PIH (Post Inflammatory Hyperpigmentation) which is detrimental to your skin health and a driver of the signs of skin aging.


At home exfoliation is essential. However, you should not be exfoliating every day, even if your skin is oily. Over exfoliation can damage your skin’s barrier and result in raw, irritated and sensitized skin. This can only get worse when coupled with the heat of the sun and sweat. I recommend using an alpha hydroxy acid serum twice a week for most clients. AHAs include glycolic acid, lactic acid, salicylic acid, mandelic acid and more. I recommend a serum over any AHA cleanser, toner or wipes. A good serum contains a delivery system that can be time released and therefore gentler on the skin. An exfoliating serum is formulated to target the exact cells you would like to remove. Exfoliating cleansers are not left on the skin long enough to do the job. AHA toners and wipes can be too irritating, as they are water based which carries the exfoliating acid too deep and too quickly into the skin, disrupting the skin barrier. If you do have thicker skin you may escalate application of your exfoliating acids to three times a week. But you need to work up to this boost to your exfoliation after an initial period of time using them only twice a week. If you find you are experiencing any sensitivity please cut back.


A word about scrubs. If you are using AHAs you may find that is all you have to do to meet your exfoliating needs. However, a gentle, smooth surfaced scrub can help refresh your skin when used once or twice a week to enhance your AHA serum. Not every day! A smooth surfaced scrub means the smooth particles gently roll over the skin to remove dead cells while avoiding micro tears caused by harsh abrasive partials like irregularity shaped shells or beads. If you have sensitive skin you might need to skip this step altogether. But the use of a gentle scrub may be just what you need in summer. If you have slightly sensitive skin you may want to mix your scrub with a gentle cleansing milk which will buffer the action of the scrub.


After exfoliating, your pores are cleaner and skin is brighter, but this also means it is more vulnerable to sun damage. This means exfoliation should ideally be performed at night. Take precautions to protect your skin during the day with copious use of a broad spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher. Daily use of sunscreen is your best defense against DNA damage and pro-aging inflammation. Adding additional antioxidants to your morning routine increases the efficacy of your sunscreen. The use of exfoliating serums at night improve the delivery of longevity serums that follow. Longevity serums include growth factors, architectural peptides, antioxidants and brighteners.


Always opt for a gentle time released exfoliator like Getting Even which combines glycolic, lactic and salicylic acids. Getting Even by Elizabeth Renee is an effective AHA skin corrector that dramatically repairs the visible effects of sun damage by lifting off dead, dry cells and reducing brown spots and uneven pigmentation the sun has caused. A uniquely controlled delivery system allows skin to tolerate this acid complex with little-to-no sensation of irritation. Getting Even reveals a smoother, brighter texture and stimulates the production of newer, fresher cells for a vibrant glow to your skin.


For sunscreen, opting for a SPF 50 gives your skin maximum protection. I love our Brightening Day Protection SPF 50 because it’s in a moisturizing base and feels comfortable on the skin. If you have particularly dry skin you may want to add a light weight hydration fluid before applying sunscreen like our new Moisture C. Moisture C also boosts daily amounts of Vitamin C protection for your skin and makes dry skin look fresher and smoother.



Elizabeth believes in "Longevity Skincare", the idea that beautiful skin can endure throughout one's lifetime when utilizing the best that science and nature has to offer. LONGEVITY is a science-based skincare line that appreciates skin of all ages. LONGEVITY by Elizabeth Renee provides hydration, nutrition and protection from environmental aging. Your skin will receive high performance ingredients to help energize and repair its cells, resulting in a healthy skin with an enduring, vital glow.



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