I recently started using the Clinique Redness Solutions 3-step thing (clenaser, moisturizer and protective base) based on the recommendation by a Clinique person (no Sephora nearby at the time, went to a department store). While doing the demo, the Clinique lady asked how often I exfoliated - I had to admit I rarely did... How often should I do exfoliate, and what should I use? My skin has some redness, is sensitive, and it's combination with my forehead getting especially oily and the rest being more normal/borderline dry.
I second the recommendation for the Ole Henriksen blue/black berry enzyme mask. It does a great job for me, and I use it 2 times a week. It's mild enough for my skin. The Ole Henriksen Lemon Strip Flash Peel is also interesting, but it's stronger, and stings a bit on parts of my face. If you have sensitive skin, I think the blue/black berry enzyme mask is probably the better bet.
I like the Clinique Toner 3 as well. As for enzymatic exfoliation, I use the Ole Henriksen blu /blackberry peel... Compared to a lot of the enzyme peels on the market it's a good deal at I believe $34 ish. I use physical exfoliation as well, a couple times a week. I like a natural one by Burt's bees (smells like orange and has orange oil in it, it's solid so you have to wet it before applying but it leaves a nice silky feeling on my skin after and helps it from drying out in the hot shower).
Identical skin type here! I stopped ALL physical exfoliation and switched to an enzymatic one (Murad's Pomegranate Mask - newly discontinued!), so I lost all the dead yuck but was never irritated. Using salicylic acid daily (Clinique's #3 toner) does a really good job, and it keeps your pores unclogged. I've had only 2 breakouts in 8 months compared to almost daily, so it's the right choice!
Korres has a pomegranate line..haven't tried though. I use their wild rose, the cleanser is gentle and the pieces are finer rather than bigger (I also use Origins modern friction which has rice particles - know someone with dry skin who didn't like).
You only need to exfoliate a few times a week. For the person I know with dry skin, they use Dermalogica I believe one of their face washes that is also an exfoliant.
I have very sensitive/oily combo skin.
Typically, exfoliation can be done 1-2x a week for most skin types.
With your skin being sensitive and prone to redness, the key is the find the proper type of exfoliant to use as well as keeping in mind your combination skin (oily/normal, selectively dry).
Exfoliation refers to the removal of excess dead skin cells at the surface of our skin, which, when build up can cause dullness, clog pores, and lead to rough and uneven texture which can even in turn affect how make up wears.
Physical exfoliants contain particles that buff and slough off these dead cells. Avoid anything with hard, rough granuals like sugar or fruit seed powders, especially since your skin is sensitive and you don't want anything too abrasive to irritate and inflame skin. If you do like the texture of a physical exfoliant (often we associate the physical sensation of buffing with the removal of the dead skin), opt for one with jojoba or microbeads. These rounded, soft particles are more delicate on skin.
Chemical exfoliants rely on alpha hydroxy acids and beta hydroxy acid. AHAs are often grouped as either lactic acid or glycolic acid. LA is milk proteins and enzymes that work very gently to calm skin (good for redness, milk is often used in many skin soothing products for its anti-inflammatory properties) and GA is derived from botanical resources like sugarcane, papaya, pineapple, pumpkin, orange, grapefruit, and lemon. The acidity and the sugars (not sugar granuals) from these sources in addition to LA breaks down the dead skin at the surface while also promoting newer and healthier skin cell regeneration. These also aid in the brightening and evening of skin tone. Beta hydroxy acid, or more commonly known as salicylic acid, is used to combat and manage oil. SA is able to dissolve sebum, better serving to keep pores clear from oxidized oil (blackheads). Chemical based exfoliants do not have a texture to them, they are often formulated in a wash or gel, or even utilized in peels and masks.
Some exfoliants combine physical and chemical components to better serve toward an all-encompassing exfoliation experience. Kate Somerville's Exfolikate formulas (three in total) is an example of this as well as Peter Thomas Roth's Anti-Aging Buffing Beads, which utilize AHA/BHA and jojoba beads.
Physical exfoliants on their own would be found in examples like Philosophy's Microdelivery Exfoliating Wash (uses silica particles to slough dead skin) and Boscia's Skin Smoothing Polish (sugar polymers are super gentle and the formula is great for sensitive skin).
Strictly chemical based exfoliants include Dr. Dennis Gross' Daily Peel Pads, Origins Brighter By Nature Pads, and Peter Thomas Roth's Anti-Aging Cleanser.
When using a physical exfoliant, never use harsh pressure, let the particles do the work for you, no need to "push" them onto skin and grind away, this will only tear and irritate your skin.
DON'T use a physical exfoliator (scrubs)! It will just further irritate your skin, and can even cause future damage. I would suggest using an AHA (alpha hydroxy acid) or a BHA (beta hydroxyl acid). And completely avoid alcohol. Paula’s choice is a good place start; they are completely alcohol and fragrance free. Also check out beautymouth.com, youtube.com/gorgeoispig, and reddit.com/r/skincareaddiction. Each place site is a wealth of information!
Though I'm not disagreeing with you entirely, physical exfoliators aren't negative across the board. Finding the proper formula is crucial and so is proper usage.
Chemical exfoliants can do damage as well if in too strong a dose or formula, but the whole ideal of "too much or the wrong thing" doing harm to skin can be swung in either direction.
There are differences between bad and healthy alcohols used in skin care products as well.
The trick is to know which alcohols are good and which are bad. Ethanol, SD alcohol, alcohol denat, propanol, propyl alcohol, and isopropyl alcohol are all drying in excessive use since they help to cut down drying time. They're used more so in products to help with prevent skin from feeling too moist or sticky.
Good alcohols are emollient and include lauryl alcohol, cetyl alcohol, myristyl alcohol, steraryl alcohol, cetearyl alcochol, and behenyl alcohol.
I have to completely agree with you, chicksadee, I love the Paula's Choice exfoliator! It's the only product on the market that doesn't make my sensitive skin red or irritated.