Everyone knows it, redheads have very sensitive skin. When it comes to exfoliating, the skin can easily break out or react badly to the exfoliant. We consulted with Laurie Neronha from Viriditas Beautiful Skin Therapy at the Providence Acne Clinic.

“The truth is, anyone can have sensitive skin, even those with very dark skin,” said Neronha. “And, skin that gets pink or red easily (inflammation), blotchy, burns quickly, never or rarely tans, and may be more prone to skin cancer.”

Here are the top tips for how redheads should exfoliate their skin:

1. General Info: “There are two methods of exfoliation, physical and chemical. Physical exfoliation is manually or mechanically ‘rubbing’ or scratching the skin. This is a slippery slope for sensitive skin because rubbing and scratching the skin creates inflammation. Many scrubs and home microdermabrasion kits do exactly that, scratch the skin! No scratch for you!”

2. How to Use a Scrub Exfoliant: “If you must use a scrub type exfoliant, look for jojoba beads, rice bran, vanilla seeds, and powdered herbs. Avoid diatomaceous earth, apricot and walnut scrubs like the plague! Too scratchy!”

3. Chemical Exfoliating: “A chemical exfoliation means using enzymes or acids to dissolve dead skin cells from the surface. In general, this would be my choice for sensitive skin, as there is less stimulation, and therefore less inflammation. In my clinic, I prefer to use lactic or mandelic acids (AHA) for drier skin, or salicylic acid (BHA) for oily or combination skin.”

4. Oil Exfoliaton: “Sometimes in our skin care practice we use a third, hybrid option as well. I call it an ‘oil exfoliation.’ This is ideal for for dry, sensitive, flaking skin. Here is how to do it:

Take about a tablespoon of a good quality oil, preferably jojoba or sunflower (they won’t clog) and apply it all over clean damp skin. Leave it on the skin 5-10 minutes, like a mask. Then take soft cotton rounds, wet them, and move gently in small circles all over the face to remove flakes. Do not scrub! Small gentle circles is all you need to give a mild exfoliation. Move the product, not your skin! We often use this method post peel, or when a client has inadvertently ‘burned’ themselves and is flaking. This can be done several times a week.”

5. Regardless of your choice of exfoliant, remember: “MOVE THE PRODUCT, NOT YOUR SKIN!!”

6. No Silly Faces: “If you are find you are making smooshy faces in the mirror while you are using product -any product- you are being too rough! Use enough product to be able to easily and gently smooth it across the skin. In the case of cleanser or exfoliant, add water as directed to permit glide.”

8. No Baking Soda Allowed: “Contrary to internet popularity, please DO NOT use baking soda to exfoliate your skin. It is extremely alkaline, and can disrupt the acid mantle (your skins barrier protection) for hours. Just say no.”


Rock it like a Redhead! 

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