When it comes to caring for your skin, choosing the right products is essential. However, with the countless options available on the market, it’s difficult to determine what ingredients and formulations truly benefit your unique skin type and concerns.

But we have got you covered with a bit of amazing advice from Cornell Dermatologist Dr. Marisa Garshick, a board-certified dermatologist.

As a specialist in general medical dermatology and cosmetic dermatology, and with over a decade of experience treating a variety of skin conditions, Marisa Garshick is often asked to provide guidance on building an effective yet gentle skincare routine. Wanna know what she suggests? Let’s find out.

Cornell dermatologist: The skincare product I never waste money on—and what I use instead
As per Marisa Garshick, one of the most important recommendations she gave is to select products containing natural exfoliants rather than harsh abrasives. Regular exfoliation is crucial to remove dead skin cells and reveal fresher, smoother skin underneath. However, physical scrubs containing pieces of walnut or apricot can damage the skin barrier if overused.

Instead, opt for chemical exfoliants with alpha-hydroxy acids or beta-hydroxy acids, which work to dissolve bonds between skin cells from within. Leading dermatology brands have carefully formulated gentle peels and toners with the right concentration and pH balance of exfoliating acids to buff away dullness without irritation. Incorporating one of these into your weekly routine will help. Pair it with moisturizers and sun protection customized to your individual needs to keep your complexion radiant throughout the seasons.

Expert Advice from Cornell Dermatologist Marisa Garshick

For those with sensitive or rosacea-prone skin types, using a gentle physical exfoliant can be preferable to chemical varieties. When choosing a scrub, it’s best to select products containing spherical beads that are uniform in size and have a smooth texture. This allows for an even exfoliation without harsh abrasion that could further irritate delicate skin.

I also find powder-based scrubs made from natural ingredients like clay or bamboo suitable options. The soft particles in these formulas glide delicately over the surface to buff away dead skin, while their mineral-rich composition helps calm redness and inflammation.

Looking for scrubs with spherical plastic or polymer beads no larger than 0.5mm can ensure a soft, spa-like resurfacing treatment without the risk of micro tears or flare-ups. Powder scrubs made from soothing botanicals offer multi-tasking benefits as well, such as bamboo’s ability to soothe with antioxidants.

What Marisa Garshick recommends for Sensitive Skin

For individuals with sensitive skin prone to redness, stinging, burning, and reacting easily to ingredients, chemical exfoliants provide a safer alternative to physical scrubs and beads.

She recommends chemical peels containing alpha-hydroxy acids such as glycolic, lactic, and mandelic acid, as well as beta-hydroxy acids like salicylic acid, which exfoliate the skin from within. Alpha-hydroxy acids shed dead skin cells on the surface gently. Meanwhile, beta-hydroxy acids are oil-soluble so they penetrate deeply into pores to help clear breakouts.

Both varieties of chemical exfoliants work to brighten complexion and enhance skin texture and tone by smoothing away dullness. Rather than abrasion from scrubbing, chemical varieties renew skin radiantly through acid-based dissolution of bonds between skin cells. This protects sensitive skin from potential irritation or flaring often caused by physical exfoliants’ rubbing and scratching motions.

Cornell Dermatologist: Marisa Garshick on Acne Prone Skin

For acne-prone skin, salicylic acid provides effective pore-clearing benefits by penetrating to unclog. Some may find physical exfoliants intolerable on faces yet tolerable on bodies, so using different exfoliants for different areas helps.

Regardless of the method, limiting exfoliation to once or twice weekly is key, as over-exfoliating can induce redness, inflammation, tightness, stinging, and burning by being too frequent or harsh. Salicylic acid helps clear blemish-prone skin by penetrating pores to dissolve buildup.

While physical exfoliants may irritate faces, bodies can tolerate them, so tailoring exfoliants to specific uses benefits. Most important is restricting exfoliation to a maximum of twice weekly to avoid aggravating skin through over-exfoliation that leads to redness and discomfort from being too zealous or regular.

“Marisa Garshick” – On What to avoid

I always tell my patients to steer clear of products that contain large, irregularly shaped, or jagged granules — like formulas with walnut shells or ground fruit pits — which can lead to microtears in the skin, as well as redness, irritation, and sensitivity.– Said Marisa in one of her article.

“The products she uses instead”

Marisa Garshick has her favorite products including Paula’s Choice skin perfecting 2% BHA liquid exfoliant, First Aid Beauty facial radiance pads and The Ordinary AHA and BHA Peeling Solution.

Feeling overwhelmed by all of Marisa’s advice? Relax! Consult your dermatologist for the ultimate exfoliation solution. They’ll assess your skin type, and goals, and recommend the right method and products for a successful, irritation-free routine.