The nitty-gritty of maintaining soft, smooth, healthy skin is regular exfoliation. Let's talk about the what, why, how and when (as well as some things to avoid) ...
Simply put, exfoliation is the process of removing the dead skin cells and debris that our bodies are constantly shedding.
This excess skin can create a dull, dry, flaky, and uneven look. When dead skin cells build up, fine lines and wrinkles become more pronounced, and pores become clogged (leading to breakouts and ingrown hairs). No way!
Exfoliating is an essential step of a proper skin care routine.
Even skin tone,
Prevent breakouts and
Increase the efficacy and absorption of all your other beauty potions
Types of Exfoliation
The world is our oyster when it comes to exfoliating products, tools and procedures, which can be quite overwhelming to choose what’s right for you.
Preferably, seeking counsel from a licensed skin care specialist to perform an in depth skin analysis is the best way to determine which exfoliation method will produce the best results; however, if you’d prefer a good DIY, it’s important to understand the different types, correct and incorrect techniques, and how often to exfoliate for your unique skin type and concerns.
Also known as mechanical exfoliation, physical exfoliation requires various tools or abrasive substances to manually remove dead skin cells from the outer layer of skin.
Microdermabrasion, Dermaplane, HydraFacial etc.
There are several treatments that can be performed by a professional with the use of specialized tools designed to physically exfoliate.
Polishes, Scrubs, Gommages etc.
Physical exfoliant products contain tiny particles such as grains of salt or sugar, natural jojoba beads, and finely ground nutshells or pumice crystals. The coarse texture breaks down and sloughs off dead skin cells to manually smooth and polish the skin’s surface.
How to use it
After cleansing and toning, apply about a pea sized amount to damp skin and gently massage the skin in small circular motions. Follow up with serum, moisturizer and SPF!
The word “chemical” can be off putting to some, but fear not, chemical exfoliants are just acids derived from natural substances that deteriorate dead skin cells. There are two main types of chemical exfoliants: Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHA’s) and Beta Hydroxy Acids (BHA’s). Both are effective for exfoliating the skin in different ways.
Alpha Hydroxy Acids
Derived mainly from fruits, nuts, sugar and dairy, AHA’s remove dead skin cells from the topmost layer of the skin, aiding in cell turnover and revealing new, undamaged skin. Most commonly used for its anti-aging properties that reduce the look of fine lines and wrinkles, hyperpigmentation, scars and sun damaged skin. And because AHA’s are water soluble, they attract water to the skin and are therefore useful for treating dry, dehydrated skin.
While skin can benefit from the smoothing, firming and hydrating effects, it’s important to understand that misuse can damage the skin and to use caution without guidance from a licensed professional. High concentrations of AHA’s pose the risk of over-exfoliation, and even at lower strengths the skin becomes extremely sensitive to sun exposure and it is paramount to use SPF or avoid the sun altogether for at least 24 hours.*
Beta Hydroxy Acids
The most popular form of BHA is Salicylic Acid derived from willow bark. Although it is more gentle than most AHA’s, it is known for its effectiveness in treating acne and breakout prone skin.
By exfoliating the top layer as well as penetrating deeper into the skin, BHA’s eliminate excess oil, dead skin cells, and debris from clogged pores. Being oil soluble, BHA’s are extremely drying, and while they are helpful in balancing oily skin, it is not recommended to use continuously, but instead as a treatment used periodically to treat signs of acne and to counteract excess oil production.
Overuse can strip the skin of its essential lipid layer that retains moisture and provides protection from the elements, leaving skin dehydrated, feeling dry, tight, and appearing dull and flaky. On the flip side, in an attempt to protect itself from water loss, skin can overcompensate its oil production, defeating the purpose of using BHA’s to begin with.
This could be a sign that you’ve over-exfoliated! You should only be exfoliating once or twice a week to avoid this.
Don’t worry, though. There are ways to heal over-exfoliated skin, like
Using a hydrating cleanser & warm water
Applying colloidal oatmeal
Using pure, natural moisturizers
Skin the ingredient-packed sunscreen
Avoid wearing makeup until you’ve healed
Be patient, get rest and avoid stress
There you have it! The secret to soft, youthful, resilient skin is exfoliation. Let us know if you have any questions!
Beauty at the Lake
*It is ill advised to use AHA’s or BHA’s without consulting a professional first. There are many products on the market that contain chemical exfoliants that are safe to use, however, it is best to know for sure which type is appropriate for your skin type and if there are any existing contraindications that could pose the risk of damaging the skin. ‘