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Best exfoliants to keep skin looking smooth, young

Smooth skin by the numbers:

22: The area, in square feet, of skin the average human carries, according to National Geographic.

0: The number of times per week most of us remember to exfoliate, by my estimate.

41: The days I spent testing facial exfoliators, one a day, to round up my list of the best and worst exfoliators on the market.

Exfoliating is the step most often skipped in our skin care routines, and it's arguably the most important step in keeping the smooth, glowing complexions we crave. Your body is doing its part; in fact, it's shedding dead skin cells right now. Sans exfoliation, many of those dead skin cells stick around and muddy complexions. A quick and effective exfoliant can unclog pores, stimulate blood circulation, reduce acne and even minimize signs of aging.

This week, I've rounded up a list of exfoliating products I love, and along the way, I discovered a few don'ts that the companies that make these products should take note of.

Don't pick an exfoliator made for face and body. Every single face-and-body exfoliator I tried was too rough on my face or too gentle on my body.

Don't pick products that leave behind tough-to-remove grainy residue. A good exfoliator should rinse off easily, not stick around for hours after, showing up in unexpected places like your hair, your lipstick and your lashes.

• Best for Acne Prone Skin: Burt's Bees Natural Acne Solutions Pore Refining Scrub

Calling on 1 percent salicylic acid, naturally derived from willow bark extract, this scrub exfoliates skin while clearing up existing blemishes and preventing future breakouts. Affordably priced at $10 for 4 ounces and widely available at local drugstores, this is a bargain. (Don't pick up Burt's Peach & Willowbark Deep Pore Scrub instead, as this sister product didn't fare well in my reviews.)

• Best Organic Exfoliant: Stem Smooth Skin Exfoliant

Boasting 78 percent certified organic ingredients, Stem Organic's Smooth Skin Exfoliant features microfine bamboo to remove dead skin cells and stimulate cell growth. Recommended for use every other day, I felt as if I were indulging in a spa visit thanks to the amazing scent and oh-so-soft application of this vegan-friendly product. Get it for $39 for 4.2 ounces at

• Best for Oily Skin: H2O Plus Sea Clear Refining Facial

This gentle exfoliating gel was among my favorites thanks to an oil-controlling blend of ingredients that absorbs oil and minimizes the appearance of pores. A unique rub-off gel, rather than a scrub-off exfoliant, it was as effective as more abrasive products at removing dead skin. Get it for $22 for 4 ounces at

• Most Unexpectedly Effective: Clientele Double Action Sponges

Convinced that these standard-looking sponges were a gimmick, I unwrapped one of Clientele's Double Action Sponges with a heady dose of skepticism. Shame on me. These sponges never failed at removing additional dirt and dead skin, a fact I could clearly see on the white sponges post use. Get three sponges in a set for $12.50 at Nordstrom.

Carolyn Brundage is the founder of www.TampaBay., a guide to all that is hip and happening in local beauty. Need beauty advice? E-mail Carolyn at

Best exfoliants to keep skin looking smooth, young 11/05/10 [Last modified: Friday, November 5, 2010 4:31am]
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