The Benefits of Physical Exfoliation

There are so many “a-peeling” things about physical exfoliation, and we love the power it has to make your skin feel refreshed. Our St. Ives Board-Certified Dermatologist partner, Dr. Claire Wolinsky loves the benefits of physical exfoliation as much as we do, so we asked her to share the advantages of this important step in your skincare routine, all year round!

Understanding Physical Exfoliation: What It Really Means
We hear a lot about physical exfoliation…but what is the true definition?

Physical exfoliation is the process of manually removing dead skin cells and dirt typically with either a scrub containing small particles or tools like loofahs, towels, or gloves. Dead skin cells can clog pores, so exfoliation is essential for all skin types. The first benefit of physical exfoliation is removing the top layer of skin cells – exfoliation can lead to an immediately brighter appearance of skin for any skin type. Another benefit of physical exfoliation is a smoother, even texture which allows makeup and other skincare products to sit more evenly.

Exploring St. Ives’ Range of Scrubs

As a dermatologist, I know that skincare isn’t a one size fits all approach. That’s why I love that St. Ives has created a variety of facial scrubs with three exfoliation levels – deep, moderate, and gentle. These tried and true, affordable scrubs are a great option for anyone wanting to incorporate physical exfoliation into their skincare regimen.

Even someone with dry, sensitive skin can use St. Ives’ Gentle Smoothing Rose Water & Aloe Vera Scrub two times a week and increase to four times a week as tolerated. It’s so important as a first timer with any skincare product to start slow and increase usage to avoid irritation. If you want to try a more moderate scrub, the St. Ives Soft Skin Avocado & Honey Scrub is a great choice to use a few times a week. For a deep exfoliation, try the Fresh Skin Apricot Scrub twice a week, increasing usage to three times a week as the skin acclimates.

It’s important to be respectful of the skin barrier when choosing a scrub and gently massaging the skin in circular motions during application. Irritation can occur if physical exfoliation is attempted too frequently or too aggressively. If any redness or irritation is noted, I would recommend stopping physical exfoliation altogether and discussing with a dermatologist before restarting. Also, since chemical exfoliation achieves the same outcome as physical exfoliation, make sure you aren’t over exfoliating which can lead to irritation. Choose either chemical or physical exfoliation at first and wait a few days before incorporating another product into your regimen.

The Role of Physical Exfoliants in Seasonal Skincare

Physical exfoliants are great adjuvants to other skincare products like retinol and sunscreen. Going into the summer months, physical exfoliants can help remove residual sunscreen. In the winter months when skin dryness and irritation are more likely, a physical exfoliant can gently remove flaky dry skin, but it’s important to follow up with a hydrating moisturizer like St. Ives Renewing Collagen Elastin Moisturizer. In retinol users, light physical exfoliation twice a week or more can be a great first morning step to remove dead skin cells caused by nighttime deep cell turnover. In this way, physical exfoliants prime the skin before applying moisturizer and other skincare products like makeup and sunscreen.

The benefits of physical exfoliation are clear and St. Ives scrubs contain 100% natural exfoliants and all variants contain a creamy formula to allow the product to gently glide over the skin. Oil free and non-comedogenic, St. Ives scrubs help with congestion, leaving the skin looking and feeling fresh every season. Select a St. Ives scrub that suits your skin and rest assured these dermatologist-tested products will incorporate nicely into your skincare regimen and leave you with a glow!

Benefits of Physical Exfoliation

About Dr. Claire Wolinsky:
Claire Wolinsky, M.D. is a board-certified dermatologist who treats both medical and cosmetic concerns in her Manhattan practice. She is revered for her ability to resolve even the most stubborn cases of acne or rosacea. Her nuanced approach to skin rejuvenation creates natural-looking results that never appear obvious or overdone.

After graduating magna cum laude from Tufts University with a dual major in Biomedical Engineering and Art & Art History, Dr. Wolinsky received her medical degree from Albany Medical College, where she was inducted into the Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Medical Society.

Upon graduation, Dr. Wolinsky received the school’s Keynotes Award, which recognizes a medical student who also displays a special talent in the arts. She completed her dermatology residency at Mount Sinai School of Medicine, having been selected as chief resident there her final year.

Dr. Wolinsky is a clinical instructor of dermatology at Mount Sinai School of Medicine, where the dermatology residents have selected her as Teacher and Mentor of the Year the past five years running. She’s also a member of the American Academy of Dermatology, the American Society for Dermatologic Surgery, and the Women’s Dermatologic Society.

In addition to her private practice, Dr. Wolinsky works one day a week at Elmhurst Hospital Center in Queens as an attending dermatologist treating medical skin issues primarily in uninsured patients.

In her free time, Dr. Wolinsky is an accomplished oil painter who studied at The Art Students League of New York, Dr. Wolinsky uses her mastery in understanding the interplay between light and shadow to inform her treatment decisions.

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Face CareFace Care

Let your face have a little good, clean fun. Our scrubs are made with 100% natural exfoliants and our cleansing sticks are made with 100% natural coconut oil. Leave your skin feeling alive, fresh, and glowing! CHECK IT OUT 


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Hey! You made it! Welcome to the bottom of the page. Not everyone makes it down here, so we’re guessing you like us. Hooray!

We spend most of our time down here talking about what inspires our skincare. Oh, and how to get glowing skin—specifically, how to make your skin glow. So let’s get started, shall we?

Our products were all made to bring the joy of nature to your skin while making it glow—all without crossing into shiny skin territory (not cute). That’s why our entire lineup features 100% natural moisturizers, exfoliants, and extracts! We also just really, really love apricots.

Think of St. Ives as your go-to for great-smelling cleansers, lotions, masks, and body washes you can use on the daily to get glowing skin that feels super-hydrated and oh-so-silky smooth. Did we mention we’re America’s #1 Scrub brand*?

Thanks for stopping by. Keep on looking around!

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