Dry Skin Dilemmas!

Q: I have dry skin. How often should I exfoliate my face—every day? Once a week? What do you recommend? And what time of the day, morning or night?

Clarisonic Mia Sonic Skin Cleansing System, $119, sephora.com.
Fresh Sugar Face Polish, $55, fresh.com.
Nude Cleansing Facial Oil, $36, sephora.com

Illustrations by Lauren Friedman

A: For treating dry skin, exfoliating is as crucial as moisturizer, believe it or not. Especially as you start to age: The reason babies’ skin is so beautiful is that their cell turnover rate is markedly more efficient than, say, even a 25-year-old’s. And it only gets slower from there. Chemical exfoliants—retinol, alpha hydroxy acid, salicylic acid, for example—can be a great help, but physical ones—grains or brushes that actually scrub away dead skin cells—are important. I use retinol at night, then a physical exfoliant every other morning to smooth it all away.
I think the best time to exfoliate is in the shower. The steam loosens up skin cells, making the whole process infinitely less irritating and more effective. Plus, moisture … abounds in a shower, no? I alternate between the Clarisonic Mia (I use a little Nude jasmine oil cleanser with it, which smells amazing and is super-moisturizing) and the Fresh brown sugar face scrub, which is itself full of skin-softening oils, and the sugar melts soothingly as you scrub, so it’s never harsh. As soon as I step out of the shower, I slap on more oil—I love Intelligent Nutrients—or moisturizer—Crème de la Mer rules if you can swing it. Before drying off, even. The quicker you get it on, the more moisture you seal in. And the plumper, dewier and comfier your skin remains, all day. PS: Don’t forget the sunscreen. I put mine (Josie Maran) on over the oil or moisturizer.