Exfoliants brighten the skin by removing flaky, dead, ashy cells. Your skincare products will work more effectively because they can penetrate deeper to the fresher skin, rather than sitting atop dead cell layers. The dead skin cells sitting on top of skin are the reason skin can develop a dull, lifeless appearance. Once the old dead cells are removed from the surface of the skin and washed away, the skin is left with a lovely, smooth glow. Exfoliation will soften the appearance of wrinkles and stimulate healthy cell renewal. Exfoliation also helps to deter breakouts by keeping skin pores clean and clear.
Does everyone need to exfoliate?
There seems to be endless ways to help shed dead skin cells. While every skin type (aside from those with certain skin diseases) should exfoliate, the amount, formulation, and frequency depend on an individual’s skin type and preference. Even extremely sensitive skins can exfoliate, but only with a product that is truly gentle.
What type of exfoliation should I use and how often?
There are basically two methods of exfoliation available: Mechanical or manual exfoliation and chemical exfoliation.
Mechanical or Manual Exfoliation
Mechanical or manual exfoliation is essentially a scrubbing action at the skins surface and includes physical scrubs, bushes, sponges, washcloths, and loofahs. A scrub is one of the quickest ways to exfoliate the surface of the skin. You can smear it on in the shower, lightly rub in circles, rinse, and you are good to go! Always be careful when choosing a scrub. Many contain ground nutshells, coffee bean, apricot kernels, or something of the like. These sharp abrasives can cause microscopic tears in the skin. Look for the terms “spheres” or “beads” in the product name or description, these are rounded and gentler to the skin.
Chemical exfoliation includes alpha and beta hydroxyl acids which dissolve the skins intercellular glue which in turn causes the skin to shed cells. Enzymes actually digest the skins layers! Certain enzymes can distinguish between living and dead cells, so they only exfoliate the dead skin.
**Remember to always consult with a skincare professional when beginning or changing a skincare routine!