Exfoliation is the removal of dead skin cells on the surface of the skin. It helps to maintain healthy skin, helps keep pores clear and helps the skin appear radiant and glowing, with a unified complexion. Exfoliation can help smooth out blotchy or flakey skin and can do what no makeup can do for the skin: give it that natural glow. Exfoliating the skin can be done manually or chemically. Both are safe on the skin as long as they are done properly.
History of exfoliation
Exfoliation has been credited to the ancient Egyptians. Wine which contains tartaric acid as the active ingredient was used in the Middle Ages as a chemical exfoliant. And the practice of exfoliation started hundreds of years ago in Asia. The word exfoliate actually comes from the Latin word "exfoliare" - which means to strip of leaves.
Why should I exfoliate?
Besides making the skin look great, exfoliating the skin actually helps maintain healthy skin. New skin cells are made in the bottom layer of the skin called the dermis. Over a thirty day process, the cells move to the surface of the skin and become more acidic. During this process the cells die and become saturated with keratin(protects the skin from outside elements). New skin is revealed after the exfoliation process. By removing dead skin cells you unclog the pores, clean the skin and help reduce acne breakouts. For men who shave their face or ladies who shave legs or underarms or other areas, exfoliation can help to expose the hair follicles and allow for a better shave as well as it helps prevent ingrown hairs. It is important to remember to not OVER exfoliate however, as this will dry the skin out and irritate it.
Types of Exfoliation
Mechanical exfoliation - This is probably one that is most well know as it involves physically scrubbing the skin with an abrasive of some sort. Examples of mechanical exfoliation are micro fiber cloths, adhesive exfoliation sheets, micro bead facial srubs, crush apricot kernel or almond shells, sugar or salt crystals, pumice, abrasive sponges, loofahs, brushes and possibly finger nails.
Chemical exfoliants - Theses are products that may contain salicylic acid, glycolic acid, fruit enzymes, citric acid or malic acid. You can get these in low concentrations over the counter or by your dermatologist in higher concentrations. Chemical exfoliation is done by using alpha hydroxy acids or AHAs for short or beta hydroxy acids or BHAs for short or enzymes that help loosen the glue like substance that holds the cells together, by allowing them to slough away.
How often should I do it?
It all depends on the type of skin that you have and how sensitive you are. Just remember to not scrub hard. The exfoliant will do a sufficient enough job if you press lightly.
I recommend exfoliating the skin 1-3 times weekly, as this will help keep clear skin. You can do an at home microdermabrasion or peel monthly to help boost radiance and keep the skin smooth.
If you are sensitive, remember to find a scrub with beads that are round and not jagged as this will tear the skin and irritate it more.
Disadvantages of exfoliation
-Plastic beads that are used in some exfoliants do not biodegrade. They are washed down into the oceans and rivers. These mermaid tears as they are often referred as, amplify the food chains and will kill any animal that ingest enough to block its digestive tract.