If you've been maximizing your exfoliating time, you know your skin is a living, breathing and easily irritated part of your body. If you're not careful, your sloughing regime could backfire and cause redness, an annoying case of acne or a bad sunburn.
The coarse particles in exfoliating soap can be too abrasive, and the tingling feeling from acidic ingredients can turn into a burning sensation if you leave the soap on longer than the recommended one to two minutes. Exfoliating can also have long-lasting effects on the deeper layers of your skin.
Acids like AHAs can strip away the skin's natural protective cover, and new cells exposed to the sun need more sunscreen in a higher SPF than you may normally use. If you're planning to bask in the sun, make sure you don't exfoliate on the same day.
Microbeads may do wonders for your skin, but if they're made with plastic, those beads may also harm the environment. Sure, the mini-particles help you scrub away pollutants and leave your skin buffed, invigorated and refreshed, but after the tiny beads do their job they go down the drain with the day's dirt. Research shows these particles bypass purification plants and end up in the world's waterways, ultimately landing on the ocean floor, where they become a most unfortunate form of fish food [source: Rosner].
The good news is that all exfoliating soaps are not created equal. If you know you want smoother skin but you're concerned about the environment, pick a product made with ground-up seeds, sea salt or other natural ingredients.
Now that you've gotten the nitty-gritty on exfoliating soaps, you can decide whether or not to buff. For even more information, check on the links on the next page.