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It's Fall, Time to Exfoliate

Burrr... the weather has changed, although I heard it's supposed to get up to eighty this weekend.

Go figure. I refuse to turn on the heat just yet. I'm keeping my windows open at night. Nothing as refreshing as the cool air breezing through my curtains as I lie snuggled in bed. Although, I'm just about ready to pull out the down comforter to keep warm. I also made my seasonal pilgrimage to Eileen Fisher to add a few items to my collection. Have you been to the Company Store up in Burlington, MA? Great bargains, that is if you can claim anything from Eileen Fisher a bargain. This year I'm staying a bit more casual since my favorite restaurant, Bar Lyon on Washington Street in Boston has no outside dining. Anyway, I picked up some fairly casual suede boots that are just my style, a couple of sweaters and a fallish jacket that'll be good until the New England chill really sets in. I am mildly annoyed by the fact that summer has past and we may become even more housebound as late fall and winter creeps into our lives. But, no one can deny that right now fall is glorious. Everything is so crisp and clean outside. The sky is bluer and the green of the trees seems clearer just before they start to change to fall's golds, oranges and burgundys. I think I'll pull on my new cardigan and jacket and take Gracie (my golden retriever) for a walk. When I get back from my walk, after answering emails regarding skincare questions there will be plenty of time for herbal tea and to sit in my family room writing my blog and enjoying the last few minutes of afternoon sun as it shines in through the windows.

Like it or not, fall is settling in. Tans are fading. Scarves are coming out. Chances are your skin is feeling a bit drier, with some unavoidable pigmentation changes from the summer. Your skin might be duller and lackluster from the accumulation of layers of skin that from over the summer. It’s time to make the seasonal skincare transition. And fall is all about focusing on exfoliation.

During the summer months your keratinocytes (surface layers) speed up production due to sun, but also due to heat. Many clients become lax in their exfoliation routine. You may have even skipped exfoliation all together. This is not such a bad thing because too much exfoliation during summer means less protection from sun. Especially if you’ve become lax in using sunscreen as well. As the leaves turn, it’s time to buff off those layers. Your skin has a memory so unfortunately sunspots that we’re created over the summer will probably come back next year when you’re out in the sun again. Some of this skin memory is attached to how long that pigmentation spot was left to linger. Removing pigmented cells early is essential for the future care of your skin.

In the fall your skin needs access to every nutrient possible that will will assist you with repair. For the next few month months make sure to include antioxidants in your diet that bolster cell turnover. Special attention should be given to root vegetables. Theses vegetables contain high amounts of Vitamin C and Vitamin A. Here are the most important tones for your skin:

  1. Onions - Onions contain high amounts of fiber and Vitamin C. Studies suggest that eating onions lowers blood sugar which is linked to cross linking of collagen fibers which creates stiffer skin and more wrinkles. You can supplement this with a good Vitamin C serum.

  2. Sweet Potatoes - Sweet potatoes are one of my favorite skin foods. Rich in Vitamins C with exceptional amounts of Vitamin A. Vitamin A encourages new cell formation which creates a stronger skin. These new cells rise up and push off older lackluster cells and create more organized cell layers for smoother skin. This is the basis of using retinol on your skin. Sweet potatoes also contain anthocyanins. These calming antioxidants reduce inflammation which is linked to age spots. Anthocyanins to reduce inflammation are components of serums containing green tea and licorice root and a seaweed known as seawhip.

  3. Beets - Beet roots contain magical chemicals called nitrates which turn into nitrites in your body Nitrites energize skin cells much the same way as niacinamide by increasing blood flow and skin energy. Dull, under-circulated skin will benefit from the improved oxygenation and increased amounts of nutrients supplied to the skin. Blemished prone skin will also benefit because of the detox effect of improved circulation.

  4. Garlic - Garlic not only scares away vampires, it is a powerful antioxidant with anti-inflammatory and has antimicrobial properties as well. Acne tends to increase in the fall due to the accumulation of dead cell layers from summer. The sun offers some antibacterial effects but when the temperature falls the sebum (oil) becomes more viscous increasing chances of getting clogged in pores. Acne increases with the accumulation of toxins, clogged pores, and bacteria. Garlic can help reduce acne on all three accounts. Combined with a detoxifying exfoliating masque this can be a good anti-acne strategy.

  5. Carrots - This classic root vegetable is a top dietary source of beta-carotene, an antioxidant that converts into Vitamin A inside your body and helps protect your skin from the sun’s rays by foiling free radical damage. If you’re already sunburned—or have any cuts on your skin,Vitamin A can help your complexion heal faster too, along with a Vitamin A rich antioxidant serum.

This is the time of year where exfoliation is most appropriate. The summer is not ideal because of increased sun exposure. If it’s still warm you should be extra careful not to use exfoliating products during the day. This includes scrubs, retinol and alpha hydroxy acids. They will surely add up to unwanted sun damage and pigmentation. Exposing newbie skin cells to late-summer sun is like asking for a future face full of age spots. But, as September creeps towards October, you want a good, deep skin smoothing routine.


RETINOL: It’s important to understand your skin type here. If you have a prescription be very careful. Prescription formulas are fast acting but they don’t always strengthen your skin. Often Retin-A creates an unnatural cellophane appearance and the thinner skin becomes sensitive and more susceptible to sun damage and wrinkling. Some clients however tolerate Retin-A very well with no side effects. A more reasonable choice might be a gentler retinol formula. We like to start clients off with Retinol Resurfacing Treatment and graduate to a slightly stronger Level Up. In this way their skin becomes accustomed to retinol. Retinol is one of the most researched and proven anti-aging exfoliants to undo sun damage and strengthen the skin. Don’t use retinol every night. It’s good to switch it around to avoid irritation. Most of my clients use their retinol three times a week.

ALPHA HYDROXY ACIDS: Even if you can’t get to the spa you can get really great exfoliation from glycolic acid, lactic acid or a blend of AHA serums. The great thing about AHAs is that you get instant gratification. By the next morning after your first use of one of these serums your skin looks and feel instantly brighter and feels smoother. Twice a week is a good schedule but resistant skins can add a third night. Just remember to wait for your exfoliation AHA to dry before applying any other product. Otherwise you’ll upset the pH of the acid and deactivate it. Also, never use retinol and an AHA on the same night and never use them during the day.

SCRUBS AND ENZYME PEELS: Not considered your primary exfoliant, but excellent for an additional boost to your fall exfoliating regime. While most exfoliation should be done at night it is okay to use an exfoliating scrub during the day. This is because it only exfoliate the most surface skin cells and doesn't exfoliate down into the pores the way AHAs do. Just make sure you are not using too much pressure and irritating your skin. Follow with an adequate sunscreen of 30 SPF or higher. Try to limit using a scrub to twice a week, three times for the thickest skin types. The important thing to remember about scrubs is to consider what particles are used. Make sure the particles are smooth surfaced particles, that means no sharp edges. Salt, plastic and walnut husks can all scratch your skin and leave your skin open to unwanted bacteria. I like jojoba beans or plant ivory (not made from ivory tusks). Plant ivory is a plant with natural smooth surfaced edges. Since they are not plastic they will also not harm the environment. Enzyme peels should also be limited to a couple times a week. Although most clients that choose to use an enzyme for their exfoliation do so because they have fairly sensitive skin. Sensitive skin clients might want to forgo other types of exfoliation altogether and focus on using an enzyme peel just once a week.


If you don’t have sensitive skin and somehow over the summer you’ve accumulated quite a bit of dead cell layers that have left your skin looking thick, dull and leathery you might want to try a spa strength home exfoliating treatment to undo sun damage. This special treat is wonderful as the season changes to reestablish a nicely hydrated skin with that special radiant glow.

On a freshly cleansed and toned skin apply 3-4 pumps Powerboost by LONGEVITY. This 10% lactic acid home peel was created to boost exfoliation as well as reduce pigmentation and hydrate the skin. Just like a spa peel you might feel a bit of stinging or pickiness. After ten minutes apply an exfoliating scrub right over the peel and very lightly massage in circular motions for about a minute adding water as you go. Rinse and follow with a pigment reducing serum and a gentle pore clearing masque. Do this three times a week for two weeks to undo the accumulated damage that came over the summer. This treatment works really well in the fall when you are getting less sun exposure and before the winter when home heating is likely to dry out your skin and make it more sensitive. I repeat, this is not a sensitive skin treatment but you can get the same results as you’d get from a professional spa treatment for those skins that can tolerate it.


EXFOLIATING CLOTHES: So overlooked. It’s the best $5 and 45 seconds you’ll ever spend on your legs, arms and back. After cleansing with a washcloth in the shower use these exfoliating cloths wet to whisk away those dead flaky cells. Avoid sensitive areas. The long shape makes it easy to reach those hard to get at areas on your back. The extra perk is that you are helping prevent cellulite, strengthening your circulation and doing lots of good for stimulating your deeper cells.

CHANGE YOUR BODY CLEANSER: Dump the soap. This detergent based product sucks the moisture out of your skin which leaves it drier and flakier with more dead cell layers to deal with. This holds true for any bar soap, even those that claim to have moisturizer added to it. What you need instead is a low sudsing, detergent free gel cleanser that you can apply in the shower with a damp cloth. Skip the gel cleansers that foam up too much or contain sodium lauryl sulfate which is a particularly drying detergent.

MOISTURIZE IMMEDIATELY FOLLOWING YOUR SHOWER: Within five minutes of showering freshly exfoliated skin dries out as moisture evaporates from the skin into the air. So don’t forget this important step to hydrate your skin. To do this following every shower with a body lotion or body oil. If you’re religious about this your body skin will stay looking fresh, smooth and hydrated. You might also want to consider taking a healthy dose of omega three fatty acids as a supplement. Ask your dermatologist or nutritionist about this barrier boosting supplement.

BUMPY SKIN ON YOUR UPPER ARMS? This is known as Keratosis Pilaris. The best solution for removing the dead cell buildup that is causing this problem is by exfoliating dead cells that have accumulated inside the pores. Glycolic Serum works especially well because glycolic has a tiny molecular structure, so it penetrates deep within the pores. Apply a few drops to the area at night followed by a light body lotion.


Just like New England weather, in the few days it took me to write this post it's summer again. So, put off your intense exfoliation program for a couple more weeks or until it cools down again and feels a little more like fall.

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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