Exfoliation: how much is enough? What is the best kind of scrub for my skin type? Is it really necessary to add this into my skincare routine? These are the most common questions I hear from my clients in my treatment room so let’s jump in and start by breaking down why we bother to do this step in our skincare regimen and how it actually helps your skin.
Exfoliation & Cell Turnover
Exfoliation occurs when the outermost layers of our skins' cells die and fall off, then new cells are produced at the deepest layers and sent up to the surface to replace the dead cells. This is what is meant by "cell turnover." This process works well for the most part, and cells turn over approximately every 28-30 days until we reach our mid-twenties and early thirties, and then this is where the aging process kicks in, and cell turnover slows down dramatically. The skin becomes dull, sluggish, dry, and the appearance of fine lines begin to form.
Benefits of Exfoliation
When we exfoliate our skin safely and consistently, then, we are assisting the natural occurring process of cell turnover. The benefits of exfoliation are multitude, and here are just a few to mention...
- Smoother texture, enhanced product penetration, even skin tone.
- Aids in minimizing fine lines and wrinkles, minimizes pore size.
- For dry skin conditions aids in removing dead skin build up, which is a barrier to moisturizer penetrating deeper.
- Aids in preventing pre-cancerous growths that can form such as: actinic keratoses, and other growths that occur from sun damage.
Something very important to know...the use of plastic microbeads in cosmetics and skincare products has been banned and as of July 2017 is no longer allowed in the US. It was found that millions of plastic microbeads from exfoliant products and cosmetics were making it through the filtration system in our waterways, and back into our drinking water, our organs cannot filter them out posing health risks. Most of the brands you will find in the US do not use this material, but always check whatever products you buy and make sure they do not contain this material. As a practitioner, I do not sell any products that contain them.
Choosing the Right Type of Exfoliant
The best type of exfoliation depends on your skin type. Here are some guidelines for choosing the right type of exfoliant...
- Best not to use salts, pit fruit seeds, and nut seeds as they tend to be jagged and can cause abrasion to the skin.
- Use exfoliants that are spherical in shape so it will not damage the skin, or micronized granules that are super small and polished to avoid scratching the skin or causing too much irritation.
- Jojoba beads, and cellulose beads are biodegradable and pose no health risks as well.
- Products that aid in both physical exfoliation, and contain chemical ingredients such as: AHA's or enzymes provide benefit to the skin as well.
- Enzymatic exfoliants can be helpful for those who do not have sensitive skin. They are considered to be chemical exfoliants as they work by dissolving dead keratinized skin from the surface. They are usually derived from fruit.
- For the most sensitive skin types and chronically dry skin, it is best to use a powder enzyme exfoliant, which can be mixed in with a gentle cleanser to aid in gentle exfoliation.
- With more granular exfoliating scrubs you will achieve a smooth skin surface instantly, and be able to apply products and make-up easily, but be careful to let the scrub do the work and not apply a lot of pressure with your fingers.
- Never use stronger scrubs on active acne, go around the areas of active breakouts or use a more gentle exfoliant until the breakout clears up.
We have an amazing exfoliating 2-in-1 masque that is detoxifying masque as well as exfoliating.
It works well to remove impurities and congestion from the skin if used 1-2’s per week and helps to lift out hyper-pigmentation, and we refer to it as microdermabrasion in a jar. But whatever you use, make sure you let the granules do the work and not scrub too hard! Always for sensitive skin types use an enzyme exfoliating powder that helps remove dead surface cells without causing irritation.