Whether you’re a skincare enthusiast or someone who doesn’t take skincare too seriously, you’ll have heard about the importance of exfoliation. The question is: why is it so important to exfoliate our skin? What are the benefits, and how often should we be doing this?
In a nutshell, exfoliation is the removal of the dry, dead skin cells on the surface of the skin. Everyone has these skin cells, even if you can’t feel/see them. By exfoliating these skin cells away, several benefits happen, as this process can help many skin problems. From blemishes and pigmentation to dull and rough textured skin, exfoliation is a simple solution for healthy, glowing skin.
Let’s investigate exfoliation a little deeper…
What is exfoliation?
Exfoliation is the technique of removing the top layer of dead skin cells from of the epidermis of your skin. By doing this, you encourage the cells down in the dermis of the skin to turnover and come to the surface, which is why you’ll hear professionals say that exfoliating regenerates ‘new skin’. This is because these skin cells are indeed newer, and when they come to the surface, they refresh the skin’s appearance almost instantly.
Why should we exfoliate?
As our skin is constantly turning over, new skin cells are being generated at the lower level (the dermis). They then work their way up to replace dead skin cells on the upper layer (known as the epidermis). However, as we age, this whole cell turnover process slows down.
When the process slows down, the cells that are on the skin’s surface start to give off a dull, lack-lustre appearance, and can lead to dry skin. Skin that hasn’t experienced exfoliation for a long while will lack that healthy glow we all long for.
When the skin is exfoliated, the dead skin cells on the surface are removed, restoring the skin’s natural clarity and brightness.
How often should we exfoliate?
How often you exfoliate your skin depends on a few personal factors, however the recommendation is twice a week, for both face and body. Remember that older skin is thinner and more sensitive; therefore, you want to avoid over exfoliating when you reach 45+. Also, sensitive skins should monitor how their skin reacts to certain types of exfoliation and adjust accordingly.
What are the different methods of exfoliation?
A lot of people assume the only way to exfoliate is by a physical scrub – the type packed with little beads that scrub away at the skin. There are actually two basic approaches to exfoliation: manual and chemical.
Manual exfoliation is the one we just discussed, which is typically carried out with a scrub, washcloth or brush. Facial exfoliator gels/creams, cleansing brushes and muslin clothes all sit under this.
Chemical exfoliation is where active ingredients like Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHA’s) or enzymes are used across a variety of treatments. These work to break down the layers of dead skin cells on the surface of your skin, to fast-track the skins natural turnover process.
You’ll find chemical exfoliation is used across face masks, face peels, microdermabrasion and certain facials, usually carried out across salons and clinics. However, there are now lots of natural exfoliants which work in the same way as chemicals, which are more commonly being created for at-home products.
The mildest exfoliation technique to use is an at-home facial cleanser, exfoliator, mask or moisturiser that is packed with exfoliating ingredients. The harshest tends to be chemical facial peels, which in some cases, can peel away at the layers of your skin, causing redness and skin shedding for up to 7 days after the chemical peel. Microdermabrasion is a process in which tiny crystals are used in a vacuum machine, which are blasted onto the skin to remove the skin cells and thoroughly exfoliate the top layer.
At home products packed with AHA’s or natural exfoliation ingredients are best for mature skin , Oily ,combination skin types those who have fine lines and wrinkles, dry skin, dull skin and a rough texture. Chemical exfoliation tends to be favoured to those with pigmentation and scarring caused from acne and sun damage, and those with much wrinkles, severe acne, or extremely blocked pores and congested skin.
With the exception of chemical peels and microdermabrasion, regular exfoliation can be safely used at home. It’s important to at first assess your current skin type and skin concerns and choose a product or treatment which won’t aggravate your skin and make it worse.
By choosing correctly and carrying out exfoliation on a weekly basis, you’ll have fresh, glowing, healthy skin you’ll be proud of.