You can be slathering on sunscreen, using a cleanser, and dipping your face in moisturizer, but if you aren’t exfoliating, you are missing a critical part of a proper skin care regimen. If you want healthy, glowing skin, exfoliation is the key. So, what is it, exactly?
Technically, exfoliation is the removal of dead skin cells on the top layer of skin. That’s it! It can be done mechanically, with abrasive scrubs, for example, or chemically, with acids that eat away at the dead skin cells without you doing any rubbing. Sounds a bit harsh, but it’s actually just a way to speed up and promote what our body does on its own.
As we get older, the natural process of cell regeneration begins to slow down. In other words, it takes your body longer to shed old skin cells and grow new ones. Old skin cells can begin to pile up on the skin’s surface, and can leave your skin looking rough, dull, and dry. These old skin cells can act as a barrier, making it difficult for moisturizing products (for example) to penetrate. What’s worse, this buildup of old skin cells can clog pores and cause and excess oil, leading to acne and blemishes.
When you exfoliate, you remove all that old and dead skin, revealing the new, fresh skin cells below. It will let your moisturizing products penetrate deeper, and leave your skin looking fresh, bright and youthful.
What’s the best method for exfoliation?
Different methods work better for different skin types and conditions. It depends on your complexion, and how sensitive your skin is. “Manual” exfoliation is the more common choice for regular use. This would be the use of an exfoliation scrub. You don’t need to grind it in, just a light touch is all it takes to slough off that old, dead skin. If you feel like you’re rubbing it in hard to get the desired effect, you might need a different type of product. Manually exfoliation with a scrub is typically done once per week. For some people, an exfoliating glove or brush will help, either with your scrub or with water alone. Just be careful not to overdo it!
The other option for exfoliation is with chemical peels or masks. These are typically done less frequently than manual exfoliation. There’s is a mind-boggling array of options available, many with exotic and hyped-up ingredients. It’s best to avoid the hype and go with a peel that has proven ingredients like glycolic or salicylic acid. For those with sensitive skin, peels that have fruit-based acids like pyruvic acid might be a better choice. Just be careful: chemical peels and masks can work wonders, but if used improperly (for example, leaving them on too long), they can damage your skin.
If glowing, healthy, youthful skin is your goal, then exfoliation is a must for your skincare regimen. Start with once a week, and you’ll be on your way to a more beautiful complexion in no time!