All About Exfoliation

There are two main layers of the skin: the dermis and the epidermis.? Each layer is made up of several thinner layers, each performing a specific function.? The outermost layer of the epidermis is the layer that we see in the mirror.? This is the layer that is mostly comprised of dead skin cells, that are constantly shed and replaced.

Some skin types, such as excessively oily skin, can interfere with this cell turnover, which can lead to clogged pores and different stages of acne.? The rate of cell turnover also decreases with age, leaving the skin with a build-up of dead cells which can make the skin look dull and accentuate lines and wrinkles.? To avoid these issues, it is important to incorporate exfoliation into your skin care regimen.

What is exfoliation?

Exfoliation is simply the removal of accumulated dead skin cells from the epidermis.? This can be achieved by many different means: scrubs, certain masks, enzyme peels, chemical peels of varying depths, microdermabrasion, everyday products containing small concentrations of alpha or beta hydroxy acids (AHAs or BHAs), etc.? Some of these methods, like scrubs, masks, or certain enzyme peels can be done by you, in your home, as a part of your skincare routine.? The other types must be performed by an experienced professional, sometimes under the supervision of a physician.

Why exfoliate?

When you remove the build up of dead cells on the surface of the skin, you are allowing the pretty new cells to be seen.? Your complexion will look and feel smoother, plumper, the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles will be reduced, and your skin care products will be able to penetrate further into the deeper layers of the skin, thus being more effective.? If you wear makeup, it will go on smoother, and will stay on better and longer.

Is exfoliation safe?

herbal clay maskI believe that exfoliation can benefit most skin types, but it must be done correctly either by you or by your skin care professional. Improper, or excessive exfoliation can cause irreparable damage to the skin, which can accelerate the aging process, and cause pigmentation problems, broken capillaries, and potential scarring.

It is important to understand that not all methods of exfoliation are appropriate for all skin types. Even those scrubs you buy at the store can damage your skin. Most of the ones I have seen have granules that are too large and sharp for facial exfoliation, and should NOT be used everyday (despite the manufacturer’s claims). Larger granules are better for use on the body.

If you want to exfoliate with a scrub, and you have oily skin that does not have inflamed acne, choose a scrub that has tiny, beadlike granules, and do it gently twice to three times a week after cleansing.

Those spinning brush machine gadgets are fairly popular now as well.? Again, these are not suitable for some skin types, and I do not recommend using them daily on any skin type.? If you do use them, do not apply any additional pressure.? Let the machine do the work.

Exfoliating skin with disorders

People with inflammatory skin conditions such as acne or rosacea should not use a scrub on the inflamed area.? Why?? Think about it.? If you have an open wound on your body, would you take a handful of sand and rub it directly into the wound?? Does that make any sense at all?? Of course it doesn’t.? But people do this to their faces all the time because they believe that more scrubbing will make the problem go away.? Instead, they are further irritating the problem, and are spreading the bacteria to other areas of the face, which will cause more breakouts.? The appearance of the skin will resemble raw steak, and will more likely to permanently scar.

Skin with acne should be exfoliated chemically, meaning with use of AHAs and BHAs, in low concentrations in a leave on acne product, as well as with chemical peels done either by a licensed aesthetician, cosmetic nurse, or doctor.

Skin with rosacea is usually not a candidate for most types of exfoliation. Sometimes a light enzyme peel performed by a professional is appropriate, depending on the severity of the condition, but that can only be determined by the professional, after a proper analysis of the condition.? Scrubbing and irritating rosacea with acids will make it worse, and can cause permanent damage.

In aesthetics, moderation is the key to good results and safety.

Many people go with the “more is more” mentality when deciding what treatments they want to receive, but in fact, the opposite is true. You have to be gentle with your skin, no matter what skin type you have, or you could cause damage that your body cannot heal.

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