Exfoliating a healthy complexion maintains skin’s wellness and optimizes your at-home skin care regimen. Supplementing with this treatment is a skin care must! Read on to see how often and which method your skin would most benefit from.
Exfoliation is the process of mechanically or chemically removing dry, dead skin cells from the skin’s surface. As we age our skin’s cell turnover rate slows. The buildup not only dulls the appearance of the complexion and enhances flaws such as lines, wrinkles, and scarring but it also acts as a barrier and prevents treatment serums and moisturizers from effectively penetrating the epidermis.
As mentioned, there are two classifications of exfoliation: mechanical and chemical. Mechanical utilizes a physical abrasive or substance. This could be as simple as utilizing a washcloth, or as basic as a skin brush or electric brush like the Clarisonic, (www.clarisonic.com). When choosing a scrub look for a product that contains ingredients such as polyethylene or jojoba beads, (unlike the pumice, crushed walnut shell or apricot pit particles, these perfectly round spheres will not create micro tears in the skin). The beads also eliminate the risk of irritation caused by other commonly used abrasives like salt, sugar, or coffee grounds. For a more intense exfoliating method there is microdermabrasion, (a treatment usually performed by a skin care professional). This process utilizes a device that has evolved, incorporating either a crystal-like medium or diamond tip abrasive along with adjustable suction.
Chemical exfoliants use acids to encourage sloughing of the skin, or enzymes that digest dead skin cells without harming healthy tissue. Commonly used alpha or beta hydroxy acids found in topical skin products are: glycolic, lactic, malic, citric, tartaric, and salicylic. For a more aggressive chemical peeling treatment utilizing these acids, or others acids like trichloracetic or phenol, seek out a skin care professional. Enzymes from pineapple, papaya, and pumpkin are gentler exfoliating options. Another popular exfoliating chemical compound is a vitamin A derivative, (a.k.a. tretinoin, retinoid, retinol), which stimulates skin cell turnover rate, and is available over the counter or by prescription.
The following is a general guideline for choosing the appropriate exfoliant and frequency of use:
- Sensitive skin favors gentle scrubs, and/ or usually does well with a papaya enzyme mask performed 1-2 times a week.
- Dry skin does well with products containing lactic acid, a natural humectant that helps the skin to retain water, or a mild scrub used twice a week.
- Oily skin responds well to salicylic acid, which also aids in combatting excess oil and shine. Because oily skin has a tendency to be thicker and more resilient a mechanical exfoliant may be used every other day.
- Acne skin, (depending on the severity of the condition), should avoid mechanical exfoliators. Glycolic, salicylic, and/ or a retinoid are often recommended to help normalize skin sloughing and help clear pores.
- Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions included with a skin care product.
- Avoid using multiple exfoliating methods at one time to eliminate aggravating the skin.
- Water acts as a buffer for scrubs. For stronger action, try massaging the scrub over dry, clean skin.
- When planning a facial treatment or waxing service with a skin care professional be sure to refrain from exfoliating the skin for at least one week prior. Consult with the expert if you have questions or concerns.
Exfoliation must be performed with care. It is not usually advisable for those with conditions such as rosacea, eczema, irritated skin, or sunburned skin to use exfoliating agents. It is also important not to be overzealous and aggressive…with the appropriate method, consistency is the key to revealing luminous skin.