If you aren’t already, you need to be exfoliating and NOW!
Exfoliating removes dead skin cells leaving the skin smoother and fresher looking, as well as making it easier for your skincare products to penetrate the skin’s surface. As we age our skin turnover rate begins to slow down which causes a buildup of dead skin. This results in dullness, large pores, acne and texture on the skin’s surface.
Imagine it, refined pores, improved skin tone, enhanced overall glow… are you getting excited? These are some of the amazing benefits of exfoliation.
There are three main types of exfoliation.
Physical exfoliation, which are the classic scrubs with little beads you can physically feel buffing away the top layer of dead skin cells. These physical scrubs should be avoided by those who suffer from broken capillaries, redness around the nose and rosacea. These can make your skin conditions worse.
An alternative form of exfoliation is chemical.
Before you start imagining horrible images of burning red skin, know that the term “chemical” doesn’t necessarily mean extra strength or even toxic for that matter. Chemical exfoliants remove the top layers of your skin by weakening the “glue” that bonds them together, taking dull and dead skin cells along with it.
There are two main types of chemical exfoliants
Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHAs) work best for skin rejuvenation, like anti-aging and evening out skin tone. The most common AHAs are glycolic acid and lactic acid.
Glycolic acid is derived from sugarcane (but can also be made in a lab). This is the smallest acid in terms of size, allowing the molecule to penetrate deep into the skin. After continued use, glycolic acid can increase the thickness of the skin by boosting collagen and elastin production.
Lactic acid is a more gentle option for those with sensitive skin. It works to improve discoloration and age spots. Additionally, lactic acid is derived from dairy which means it aids in balancing the skin’s pH.
Beta Hydroxy Acids (BHAs)
Salicylic acid is the most common BHA. It exfoliated down to the pore lining allowing it to relieve redness and inflammation. Salicylic acid is very compatible with oils which allows it to get deep into the pores to help reduce acne. It works great for those with oily acne-prone skin.
I prefer to use AHAs and BHAs at night because they tend to make your skin more sensitive to the sun. If you do plan to use them during the day make sure you are using ample amount of sunscreen to protect your skin from sun damage.
Enzymes are chemicals that speed up the rate of chemical reactions by lowering their activation energy. Meaning, they help shed skin cells and speed up the skins natural exfoliating process.
Enzymatic exfoliation uses enzymes derived from foods such as pineapple and papaya. This form of exfoliation is more gentle than chemical exfoliation and can be used on almost all skin types.
It is recommended that you exfoliate two to three times a week if you have normal skin and once a week for sensitive skin. Over-exfoliating can cause chronic skin irritation and inflammation which can lead to premature aging. I have pretty dry to normal / acne prone skin, so I use an genital acid toner two nights a week and an enzyme mask and peel once a week (on separate days).
We lose 50 million skin cells a day that can cause the skin to look dry and dull. Evicting that layer of dead skin cells a few times a week is the secret to glowing, smooth skin.