Why do you need to exfoliate?
Everyday our skin cells die and new skin cells are born. When we are young this process happens at a very fast rate and the dead cells are replaced so quickly that it is rarely an issue. As we age this process slows down, leaving an excessive amount of dead cells clinging onto the skin surface. This can not only lead to an uneven, dull complexion, but can also cause a whole range of unfavorable skin conditions such as blemishes, clogged pores, dryness and loss of elasticity.
Fortunately, a procedure called exfoliation can efficiently remove the dead skin cells,boosting skin turn over and restoring smoothness and radiance to the look of you skin. On top of that, the benefits of exfoliating regularly include reducing break-outs, fading acne scars and hyper-pigmentation, and of course, combating aging.
If you are not regularly exfoliating your skin, now would be a good time to start.
How is exfoliation achieved?
Exfoliation is very simple and easily done at home. There are two types of exfoliation to consider. Mechanical and Chemical. Let's explore both.
Mechanical exfoliation involves physically sloughing off dead skin cells with an abrasive, a facial scrub (typically containing nut shells, sugar, micro-beads) microdermabrasion, or a battery operated cleansing brush. This type of exfoliation is simple yet effective for normal and dry skin types without major skin problems. Those with Sensitive or broken out skin should avoid any exfoliaters made whose abrasive is too strong or has sharp edges (such as nuts for example). Skin that is broken out and/or infected, should avoid mechanical exfoliation as it could open infected pores and spread the bacteria all over the face.
Also is referred to as chemical peel. A chemical peel is a technique used to improve the appearance of the skin on the face, neck or hands. A chemical solution loosens the bonds of dead skin cells and helps them to slough off through chemical actions. There are various types of acids used to achieve this; alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs), beta hydroxy acids (BHAs) or/and polyhydroxy acids (PHAs). These acids can are enzymes extracted from fruits such as papaya and pineapple, but their efficiency is less potent. Other ingredients like retinol/retin-A/retinoic acid are all vitamin A derivatives and can promote cell turn-over while it flakes off dead cells.
Chemical exfoliation is more versatile, as it’s suitable for most skin types and its peeling strength can be altered by adjusting the percentage of effective acids in a product and the amount of time you leave it on the skin. The most common chemical exfoliants contain lactic acid, glycolic acid and salicylic acid. Most over the counter products have relatively low percentage and offer mild effects, while those with clinical strength are used strictly by licensed professionals.
Despite its effectiveness, there are with chemical exfoliants. Skin sensitivity can be an issue when first using these products, but can be overcome by starting with less frequent use and a lower percentage while gradually increasing allowing skin build up resistance. Allergic reactions can occur , but fortunately people who are allergic to AHA may not be sensitive to BHA, and vice versa. Sun sensativity is an issue after chemical exfoliation and sun screen should always be worn.
Which type is right for you?
Normal or dry skin without any particular problems: Most exfoliants will do the job! There are extra benefits from chemical peels that include increased collagen production, faster overall cell turnover, and reduced skin discoloration.
Oily or acne-prone skin As mentioned above, mechanical exfoliants are not suitable for skin with active breakout/blemishes. BHA is preferred over AHA because it is more efficient at getting through the oil inside the pore, and penetrating the pore is necessary to exfoliate the pore lining. For people who are allergic to BHAs (if you are allergic to aspirin), your alternative is AHA and retinol, but use them sparingly and always start with a very low concentration, as they are more sensitizing than BHA.
Mature skin with wrinkles and sun damage Mechanical exfoliation is not as they tend to be harsh and on thinned, mature skin may cause broken capillaries. Chemical exfoliants including AHA, BHA and vitamin A derivatives are what you should consider. These exfoliants will improve skin texture and even out skin tone,
Skin with inflammatory conditions, such as dermatitis, eczema and cystic acne should consult a dermatologist, as these can be worsened by improper use of any exfoliants.
How often should you exfoliate?
Some skins may benefit from daily exfoliation, while once per week could be too much for sensitive skins. (if your skin shows signs of irritation, such as excessive dryness, flakiness and redness, then you are overdoing it). Start with a mild exfoliant and increase the potency gradually. Taking a break from exfoliating every now and then is a good thing too. Bottom line, listen to your skin, pay attention to how it reacts and determine the routine that works best for you, but definitely look into exfoliating your skin as it will help create a smoother and clearer skin if done properly.
Important note: Always follow the instruction or consult professionals when incorporating a chemical peel into your skin care routine. Always conduct a sensitivity test for new products. Most products should be used directly on cleaned face at night before moisturizing. Using chemical exfoliants during the day or under your makeup should be avoided because it makes your skin more susceptible to sun light and other environmental changes, but also the acidity from the product will oxidize and ruin your makeup. Last but not least, always wear a sunscreen with at least SPF15!
If you live in the central or northern NJ area and would like the perfect makeup to enhance your newly exfoliated skin, contact me for a makeup lesson or consultation. Happy exfoliating!