Exfoliating is the key to looking radiant and rejuvenated

Like it or not, summer is a time for showing skin. It means going easy on the makeup by day, when chances are the sun will melt

it all away.

Keeping your skin cleansed and moisturized goes a long way in helping it stay beautiful with minimal layers of cosmetics, but many people miss one crucial step: exfoliation.

That’s the removal of the oils and makeup residue that can clog pores and get trapped in the layer of dead skin cells that accumulate on the skin’s surface. It’s this buildup that can give skin a dull, lifeless and often patchy appearance, and clearing the debris allows other products to work more effectively.

“Once you get rid of that layer, serums and moisturizers can penetrate more deeply,” says Ni-cole Santiago-Vierra, president of Ampy’s A Day Spa, which offers professional exfoliation, such as an Eminence Organics Pineapple-Enzyme Pro Peel, as well as Eminence products for at-home treatments. These range from a Pear-Poppyseed Scrub to polish skin to a smooth glow, to a Yam and Pumpkin Enzyme Peel that gently sloughs off dead skin cells, while “smelling like Thanksgiving.”

Many are familiar with mechanical exfoliation – the use of granulated scrubs to polish the skin’s surface – but there also are chemical and enzymatic treatments that do the job. According to Santiago-Vierra, picking the right one is a matter of balancing your skin needs with personal preference.

“With physical exfoliants, you’re breaking bonds between cells. It’s good for tough, strong or sun-damaged skin that needs an overhaul. It’s a little more aggressive,” she says.

“Some people like to feel the product working,” she adds, emphasizing that care must be taken to prevent damaging the skin with mini lacerations caused by overzealous scrubbing. It is possible to overexfoliate, leaving thin or aging skin dry and irritated.

Chemical exfoliation makes use of alpha and beta hydroxy acids to dissolve the bonds of dead cells, and is ideal for those with acne, according to Santiago-Vierra.

Enzyme exfoliation works the same way on sensitive skin, using gentle plant enzymes in place of stronger chemicals.

Other products to try for an at-home facial include Kate Somerville’s ExfoliKate Intensive Exfoliating Treatment ($85 to $175) and ExfoliKate Gentle ($65), for sensitive skin. Available at Neiman Marcus and Four Seasons Spa, Maui.

Dr. Zein Obagi also offers Offects Exfoliating Polish ($75) as part of his ZO Skin Health line (exclusive to Nordstrom). In addition to speeding epidermal turnover, the polish contains vitamins A, C, C-Esters and E antioxidants that penetrate the skin immediately, leaving skin clearer, smoother and more even-toned.

For the body, La Mer recently introduced The Body Refiner at Neiman Marcus. It’s infused with 1.75 carats of pure diamond dust, tourmaline and sea quartz to polish skin with sparkling exfoliating spheres, revealing a supple, touchable new you, even during the driest months of the year.