Do you exfoliate your face? Do you use a physical exfoliator that scrubs your skin clean with ingredients that grab ahold of and sweep away goop? Or do you use a chemical exfoliator that contains something like fruit enzymes or naturally occurring alpha hydroxy acids, which dissolve and eat away the dead skin cells? Most of you who practice exfoliation will likely have strong opinions about what type is best for skin (some of you may shun it entirely), but what about the best time of day to exfoliate? That’s what one of our readers, Christine, wants to know. Here’s her question:

I am wondering if you all have an opinion on when to exfoliate your face. I have always heard that your skin is more sensitive in the morning so it is better to exfoliate at night, however I find that in most of your “Morning Routines Exposed” people seem to exfoliate in the morning. Do you have thoughts on this?

Personally, I am a morning exfoliator, and I tend to exfoliate every other day. That may be too much for sensitive skin types, but I find a light, gentle exfoliation really preps my skin for the day and gets my blood flowing. It creates a smooth canvas, so to speak, so that everything I apply afterword—from sunscreen to foundation or powder—goes on without a hitch. Three exfoliating products that are in constant rotation at my house include One Love Organics Brand New Day, May Lindstrom The Clean Dirt, and Josh Rosebrook Active Enzyme Exfoliator. I’ve listed these from the most gentle to the most intense. Another reason I exfoliate in the morning is because I oil cleanse in the evening. Exfoliating in the evening would probably invigorate my senses at a time when I’m trying to wind down.

So when do you exfoliate? Does it matter to you what time of day you do it? Why? Tell us in the comments!

Normally, I exfoliate my body by dry brushing, but sometimes the water is already running and I’m about to jump into the shower when I realize I forgot to do it.  I recently bought a Konjac body sponge to keep near the tub for just such occasions.  Their face sponges have received lots of NMDL love, and I tried using one of those tiny little guys on my body, but I ended up laughing at myself.  It’s ridiculously small for whole body use.  I had to search high and low for a US vendor of the red clay version of the larger sponge, pictured above.  It’s great for dry/mature skin, and there’s a different sponge for every skin type.  The Konjac site explains it all, and has a convenient list of stockists all over the world.

The hand-sized body sponge does a great job of gently exfoliating in the shower.  Like dry brushing, it leaves my skin nice and soft and not in dire need of moisturizing.  I’ve found loofahs and such to be drying, but this veggie-sponge is not like that at all.

When fully dry, it shrinks down to about half its size and gets hard as a rock.  To poof it back up, I let it soak a few minutes in a bowl of warm water as I begin my showering routine.  I prefer to cleanse first, then use the sponge, but you can use it with a cleanser too.  Afterward, I squeeze it out by pressing between my palms, and I keep it in a glass bowl, sitting just outside the shower.  I’ve been using it a couple times a week for several weeks, and it’s still like new.

I love to soak in the tub with some bath salts, but with the warmer weather and lack of time, it’s been months since I’ve had the chance.  So I had the idea (brilliant, as it turns out) to put a couple handfuls of Dead Sea salt into the Konjac’s bowl.  It’s my favorite salt for healing, soothing, and softening my skin.  As I showered, I kept dipping the Konjac back in the bowl to soak up more salt water, and sponged my skin until the salt water was gone.  It was a great substitute for a soak in the tub, felt super refreshing for summer, and left me feeling soft and smooth with no need for a moisturizer.

I love it when I find a new way to use old favorites.  Have you tried the Konjac yet?  What’s your skin loving as summer winds down?

Dearest Friday, we are so happy that you’re finally here. In celebration of your arrival, our good pals at NuboNau are offering a special double dealski. As you guys know, we deeply heart PAI and they recently sent over their new gentle exfoliator for us to check out. Alexandra has yet to try it—because she’s having a weekly affair with her Mia brush right now—but Siobhan has officially added it to her favorite cleanser list. (Alexandra is planning to put down the Mia to try it soon.) Anyhoo….

Deal numero uno: Order the PAI Exfoliator with the PAI Facial Oil (also yummy!) and you’ll get both for $50 (instead of $70). That’s a 30% discount AND you also get FREE SHIPPING. Just use promocode NMDL1 once you’ve added both (and any other) products to your basket.

Deal numero dos: Place any order on anything, spend more than $25 and get FREE SHIPPING on that too. For this one (if you’re not ordering the PAI) use promocode NMDL2 once you’ve added the products to your basket. Claro?

Dont forget to tell your friends: Have you tried PAI? What other lines do you like from this store?

Other stuff you should know:

  • If you have any issues redeeming your offer, you can call their Customer Care number Toll Free: 1 877 NuboNau (682 6628).
  • Free shipping applies to the USA only.
  • You will receive Loyalty Points for all your purchases.
  • Deal is valid for one week (until Thursday March 15th 2012 12:00PM PST).
  • They are happy to take order over the Phone: 1 877 NuboNau
  • Deals cannot be used or combined with any other offers.

Have a sparkly weekend!

In its eternal quest to sell us more stuff we don’t need, the beauty business is pretty much predicated on lies. There are lies around claims, around effectiveness, around ingredients. There are lies around lies.

Here’s a list of some of the worst offenders, made worse by the fact that we often take them for granted as truths. But surely we’re forgetting a few. Can you think of others?

You should shower daily. And that of course means, lathering up from the top of your head to the tip of your toes. That way your skin can be scaly dry, your scalp a wreck, and you can invest in the myriad of moisturizing, conditioning and so-called soothing products to tame your flyaways, and assuage your flaky skin. This post offers a refresher on other reasons why daily showers may not be ideal.

Exfoliation turns back the clock on aging. While we’re onboard with very moderate and occasional exfoliation, for the last ten years the industry has been pushing extreme scrub and burn beauty rituals: from AHAs to glycolics and beyond. As holistic skincare expert Evan Healy pointed out in our book, this behavior is likely what lead to the rosacea epidemic she saw in her practice, among women who weren’t predisposed to it. I know for myself, using glycolic acid left my skin red and sensitive for years.

Soap isn’t good enough for your body. Why would you use a simple bar of soap with three ingredients when you can use a body wash, specially designed for your body and filled with some of the absolute nastiest chemicals the industry has to offer. Oh and add to that lie, this one: Anything designed for “washing” doesn’t also moisturize as many a body wash likes to claim. And add to that, you don’t even need to use that much soap either.

Cleanse your face morning and night. What could possibly happen to your skin while you’re asleep in your bed that it requires a full scrub down upon waking. I remember reading somewhere how back in the day a big antacid company had the genius idea to picture 2 tablets dropping into water, instead of just one. Within months their sales doubled. That’s what this twice a day face washing is, if you ask me.

Your eyes need their own cream. Siobhan’s gonna fight me on this one (she loves her a good eye cream!), but while I acknowledge that using a special cream on your eyes is a beautiful and gratifying ritual, in my experience they’re just a slightly thicker version of face cream. The skin around our eyes is sensitive and more delicate, but that’s precisely why natural eye creams have been become my favorite face creams.

Your split ends can be fixed. No product can fix split ends, because hair is dead and no amount of conditioner can bring it back to life. Sure, it can help coat or mask, but if your ends are split you should either ignore them (if like me, you live in fear of hair cuts) or get a trim.

Your stretch marks can be cured by cream. While we’re still willing to believe that heavy-duty moisturizing with skin-loving oils and creams may help in the prevention of marks—once you have them, learn to live with them. The darker ones usually fade with time through the skin’s natural repair system, and there’s just no cream that will make them disappear. If you read the book, you’ll remember that I also tried laser to get rid of mine. Terrible idea. It left the area red for months, and did nothing.

OK which lies have I left out?

Because I rarely wash my face, let alone exfoliate it, I did have a moment’s pause when my very wonderful mother-in-law (and I’m not just saying that!) offered me a Clarisonic Mia brush for Christmas. She’d thought this one through, not only having my husband check in with Siobhan, but also offering the gift with a clear message: You can exchange this for anything you want at Nordstrom’s. Easy. But as I stared at the pretty peachy brush, marketed for sensitive skin, I just couldn’t quite keep my paws off of it.

I’ve been hearing about the Clarisonic for years now, and while I’m deeply wary of over-exfoliation, or any exfoliation—living in fear of sacrificing natural oils and that protective top layer of skin cells that seals moisture in and keeps bad stuff out—I just didn’t think I could pass up the chance at trying the thing. Even as the discount rack at Nordstrom’s called my name.

And here’s what: The thing feels pretty special, and weirdly not like it’s actually exfoliating so much—though I’m fairly sure it is, right?—as creating circulation that leaves your skin aglow. The brush itself is super soft and it pulses with a very gentle vibration that actually tickles. When I run it over my nose I dissolve into laughter.

You can tell I’ve been pretty sold on it, though let’s be clear: I’ve used it all of three times since January, and when I do use it it’s with the One Love Skin Savior I have or whatever friendly oil is laying around the bathroom, and not the toxic foaming crap it came with.

But just as I was about to write an all-glowing  post, beloved fashion blogger Garance Dore warned about it on her site. Eeks!

See, Dore has this dermatologist, Dr. Marie-Catherine Planté, who sounds very French and very much after our own hearts: In the past she’s told GD not to even use water when she cleanses her face. A rule I generally ascribe to. So when Dore asked this derm about the Clarisonic brush, because she too had heard the praise, the verdict was that it’s essentially a skin torture device, for reasons sited above about the evils of exfoliation. Oh non.

And yet, I’m not entirely convinced! I guess what I’m now wondering is, should we never exfoliate? Not even a little bit? Surely our ancestors reached for a little sand now and again and rubbed their faces down just for the feel of it. (I love operating on the likely-false assumption that our ancestors must have known more than us about these things.)

I for one, intend to continue using my buzzy brush very moderately, because it just feels so damn good (and the glow!). What about you? Have you tried the thing? Where do you stand on exfoliation?

Oh, and P.S. Vacations are indeed amazing. And there’s not a chance in heck I’ll be using the Clarisonic anytime soon as I try to maintain another skin no-no: my tan!

Pretty, sandy girl via