Q: Is it too much to wash my face with a skin care brush every night and use a glycolic product a couple times a week?
A: “Unless you have really oily skin, there’s no reason to exfoliate it every day,” says dermatologist Ellen Marmur of Marmur Medical in NYC, who believes three days a week is sufficient. (Oily, acne-prone skin types benefit from daily exfoliation to keep pores clear.) “Dead skin will slough off naturally anyway, although this cell turnover does slow down with age. Using chemical exfoliators (retinoids, alpha or beta hydroxy acids) or mechanical ones like a scrub, washcloth, or a face brush (like Clarisonic’s and Olay’s) just help that process along.”
Like a lot of derms, Marmur gives Clarisonic’s brush a thumbs-up because the massaging action boosts blood circulation to the skin, and the non-abrasive bristles clean and exfoliate gently. That said, even a soft brush can cause irritation if it’s used too frequently, especially if you’re already using a Retinoid or other acidic product. Overexfoliating strips away the natural oils that form the skin’s protective barrier, triggering inflammation (redness, burning, and flaking).
Once you hit this overkill point, it can take days (or even weeks) to get back to normal again. “You can definitely incorporate both a brush and a glycolic into your weekly regimen to brighten your complexion — just stagger it,” advises Marmur. For example, wash with a brush on Mondays and Thursdays and use a glycolic product on Saturday. “Chill out the other four days, allow your skin to exfoliate on its own, and give it a rest.”