Importance of Exfoliation
Winter is here, and along with the cold chill, comes the unwelcome, dry, brittle skin we all know too well this time of year. While that means it’s time to stock up and slather on the moisturizer, it’s also a smart time to brush up on our exfoliation skills.
At its essence, exfoliation is the process of removing a layer of dead skin cells from the outermost layer of the skin, also known as the epidermis. As the old cells are removed, new ones are able to generate and rise to the surface. Gone is the skin’s dull appearance, making way for a rejuvenated, healthier glow due to an increased flow of blood to the skin and new cell growth. Exfoliation can help minimize the appearance of fine lines and lessen the damages due to sun exposure to the skin over time. It also aids in unclogging pores and the removal of oil buildup that can eventually lead to acne. Smoother, healthier skin is the ultimate result in exfoliation, but there are steps to keep in mind when going about the process.
There are two main types of exfoliation
- Chemical exfoliation, involves the use of hydroxy acids, betahydroxy acids or enzymes to remove the outer layer of skin cells. Chemical peels are one popular form of this type of exfoliation. The use of scrubs with citric acid, salicylic acid or glycolic acid can also be used as exfoliants for this purpose. These products can be administered by a doctor, or purchased over the counter depending on the product’s ingredients.
- Mechanical exfoliation, or microdermabrasion, as it is commonly called, involves the use of physically applying an abrasive directly to the skin. Such abrasives used for this type of exfoliation include loofahs, gloves, sponges, cloths, brushes, pumices, sugar and salt scrubs, among other things. Electronic exfoliating brushes, such as the Clarisonic, have also become popular tools for mechanical exfoliation
Still not sure which method of exfoliation is best for you? Marie Claire breaks it down for us here depending on our skin type. Once you’ve chosen your desired process, it’s important to know how and when to apply. If you’ve chosen to go the mechanical route, it’s suggested you exfoliate with this method twice a week on average, once a week for more sensitive skin. Stronger chemical peels and products should be use only once a week at most. When applying either the mechanical or chemical methods, be sure to use soft, circular motions so as not to irritate the skin. If irritation does occur, it can mean that you are over-exfoliating. Stop if irritation continues. It’s super important to apply moisturizer after you’ve exfoliated to retain optimal results.
There are many, many products out there on the market when it comes to exfoliants. Do your research and make sure you find the product and method that’s best for you and your desired results. It’s even possible to find your glow the natural with these homemade exfoliants that can be whipped up right at home.