A viewer on DermTV this week asked an important question: is it safe to use exfoliants on your face if you have broken capillaries? And the answer is, with one exception, yes it is safe. So if you are using gentle, chemical exfoliants like glycolic or salicylic acids, that’s fine and if you’re doing gentle physical exfoliation like microdermabrasion or even shaving, that won’t break capillaries. But, the one exception is retinoids. Now usually retinoids are used for acne, but they’re also used for facial rejuvenation because they are good exfoliants. But when you use retinoids for a prolonged period of time, they can cause mild broken capillaries. However, there’s a catch and the catch is that while exfoliation by and large doesn’t cause an increase in facial capillaries or broken capillaries, it does make the ones that you have more apparent. Let me explain. Here again is our favorite skin diagram. This is the epidermis and this is where your chemical exfoliants work. It’s also where physical exfoliants work. They take away this layer of dead cells. However, the broken capillaries are down here in the second layer in the dermis and it’s these blue lines and the red lines. Well, the dead cells that are being removed by exfoliation are opaque; they sort of obscure the appearance of what’s below it. If you take these dead cells away, it’s a little bit like dusting off a painting; it reveals all the details below. So, if you regularly exfoliate and get rid of this opaque layer up here, you’re really going to be able to see into the skin better and therefore anything below the surface, like the capillaries that are broken and enlarged, are going to be more apparent. So while exfoliation by and large doesn’t increase the broken capillaries you have, it can make the ones you have more apparent. Usually it doesn’t, but if it does, then rest assured that those broken capillaries that your now seeing a little bit more clearly can easily be removed by lasers which are painless and don’t leave any marks.