Achieving a beautiful, healthy complexion is all about balance—finding that perfect combination of skin care ingredients and using them effectively to cleanse and exfoliate buildup. But sometimes in the quest to repair and refresh our skin, we can unknowingly be causing damage to it along the way. We asked Kristy Jantzi, Aveda lead spa educator, on how to properly and gently exfoliate for healthy skin, and the pore-clogging ingredients to avoid to keep it that way.

1. Lighten up on skin care products. “Many people overuse products thinking that their skin will get faster results, which is not the case,” she explains. Stick with the recommended usage outlined on the package. “By overusing a mask or exfoliant, this can cause more irritation and dryness to the skin and cause more breakouts.”

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2. But if you have over-exfoliated, use water-based products or a lightweight oil to rehydrate skin. “A lot of signs of acne and clogged pores are caused from the skin being dried out and not properly exfoliated,” says Jantzi.

3. Use a liquid exfoliant—nothing granular— to gently remove dead skin. “By using something harsh on the skin, it will go into overdrive to produce more oil to help heal the skin. If the skin is not exfoliated, then the skin can get clogged and cause a breakout.” Look for ingredients like salicylic acid, that isn’t as hard on the skin as AHAs, retinal products or glycolic acid. Try Aveda Botanical Kinetics Exfoliant.

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4. “Always wash your face with an upwards motion to lift the hair follicles, skin and bacteria off the face
,” says Jantzi. Use cool water to prevent any more irritation to the skin, then pat dry and roll-pat in moisturizer. If exfoliating with a face cloth, never re-use without cleaning properly first.

5. Avoid ingredients that will linger on the skin for long periods of time.
Think moisturizers that contain ingredients like lanolin, and heavier oils such as almond oil, avocado oil and cocoa butter. “All these ingredients are all too heavy for an oil-rich skin type, which may cause more breakouts,” she says.

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