Skin Game Changer: The Importance of Exfoliation
Is your skin rough, congested and lifeless? If you are having skin issues, your skin may benefit from the Holy Grail to healthy skin: regular exfoliation. It is one of of the most vital steps to any successful skincare routine and a simple way to combat skin conditions, such as acne, dullness and fine lines. Above all, regular exfoliation keeps skin looking youthful, bouncy and radiant. Let’s explore the myriad of benefits and the importance of exfoliation.
Dead Skin Cells Have Got to Go
Regardless of skin type, everyone should be regularly exfoliating to keep the skin-renewal process flowing and to stimulate new skin cell growth. Skin is your largest organ and a good indicator of your overall health, so it’s important to take care of it! Skin cells are constantly dividing and replacing themselves but as we age, this process begins to slow down, creating a buildup of dead skin cells. This increases the chance of cellular damage and bacterial growth, which is often the culprit for acne, premature aging and inflammation.
What is Exfoliation
Exfoliating is the process of removing dead skin cells from the skin’s surface.
Did You Know? Skin undergoes a natural skin cycle of turnover, usually every 30 days, of shedding away its dead skin cells to allow for new, more youthful skin cells to appear?
A skin cycle is the process where a new skin cell is formed at the deepest layer of the epidermis and works it’s way up to the surface of the skin. At this point the skin cell has matured and ultimately flakes off. (1)
Importance of Exfoliation
Because the natural skin cycle begins to slow down and dead skin cells aren’t able shed as quickly, bacteria, discolouration and irregular cells can become trapped, causing a slew of skin issues: such as spots, blemishes, hyperpigmentation, irritation, sagging, wrinkles and thick, rough patches. Using exfoliating products can expedite the cell turnover process by loosening the dead skin cells and encouraging fresher cells to travel to the surface.
Benefits of exfoliating
Aside from removing dead skin cells, excess oil and other debris, exfoliating on a regular basis will improve your skin’s radiance and brighten your complexion.
- Prevent clogged pores
- Prevent blemishes and blackheads
- Reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles
- Help prep skin for increased absorption of other products, such as serums and moisturizers
- Improve skin texture
- Glowing, fresh skin
- Improve blood circulation and lymphatic drainage
- Remove impurities, dirt and bacteria
- Even skin tone
Exfoliating also “helps stimulate collagen synthesis to improve the skin’s texture, integrity, and keep the skin looking plump, tight, and young,” – Board-certified dermatologist Michelle Henry, MD. (2)
The two major methods of exfoliation are physical (manual) and chemical.
This includes using scrubs, powder cleansers and other gritty-like polishes that manually remove the dead skin cells from the outermost layer of skin.
Physical Exfoliation 101
- Look for organic and gentle ingredients
- Avoid products that include large and abrasive particles, like nut shells and seeds
- Apply product using small, circular motions then rinse off to reveal glowing skin
- Use lukewarm water
- Use 1-3 times a week
Chemical exfoliation includes using chemicals, such as facial acids and enzymes, to penetrate deep into pores to loosen what bonds the dead cells together to dispose of them. Generally, these are more gentle and less prone to damage the skin. Chemical exfoliants are great for all skin types as long as used properly.
Chemical Exfoliation 101
- Various concentrations
- Make sure to use what is best for your skin type and concerns
- Start with a lower percentage and increase with skin tolerance
Best: Chemical Exfoliation
Friction from physical exfoliation can irritate already inflamed skin so generally, chemical exfoliation methods are best for acne-prone skin.
Look for: Salicylic acid or AHAs, to unclog pores below skin’s surface, help fade acne scarring
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Best: Chemical & Physical
Physical: Fine-grain and micro-plastic free exfoliating treatments instantly refresh skin without damage or tearing. Avoid large particles and using harsh brushes.
Look for: Fine-grain, Organic powder cleansers
Chemical: Resurfacing peels can remove accumulated dead skin cells while offering antioxidant and rejuvenation benefits.
It’s a popular misconception that retinol is an exfoliant. It isn’t, because it cannot break the bonds that hold dead skin cells to the surface. – Paula’s Choice
Best: Chemical Exfoliation
Chemical exfoliation is generally less harsh and abrasive. If you do opt for a physical exfoliator, make sure there are no sharp grains or shells that can damage skin and cause infection.
Look for the gentle heroes: Lactic Acid, Fruit enzymes
Best: Physical & Chemical
Uncomplicated, simple choices are best for oily skin.
Physical: Organic, gentle face polish
Chemical: Salicylic acid, combats blemishes and bacteria, or Lactic Acid, which helps control excess sebum production and minimize breakouts.
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Depending on your skin’s condition, chemical exfoliation can be a more consistent, predictable way to slouth away dead skin cells instead of physical exfoliation, which may be too abrasive and possibly lead to micro-tears.
Best choices: Glycolic Acid or Lactic Acid
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- Don’t over exfoliate
- Exfoliate about twice a week, depending on skin tolerance
- Never exfoliate if sunburned or have open wounds
- Cleanse before exfoliating
- Apply moisturizer after exfoliation
- What is a Skin Cycle? Medifine Skin Clinic.
- How to Properly Exfoliate for Radiant, Healthy Skin. J.DERRICK, A. SAYER. Medically reviewed by ONYEKA OBIOHA, MD. Byrdie.
- 7 Benefits of Exfoliation You Didn’t Know You Were Getting. Eccotique.