Fresh skin cells glow naturally! However, sometimes our glow gets covered up by aged top layer skin. As we age, our bodies become less effective at sloughing off our outer layers of dead cells. And that’s why we exfoliate. When we consistently exfoliate, our fresh cells rise to the surface and our skin glows.
DID YOU KNOW? The word exfoliate comes from the Latin word “exfoliate” which means “to strip off leaves”
There are many ways to perform exfoliation, both on the face and body. These processes are either mechanical or chemical. In addition, you can DIY or hire services.
Mechanical exfoliations use abrasives to scrub the skin. Facial scrubs should have finer components so it does not tear delicate facial skin. Bigger grits and harsher materials such as pumice, are good for tougher skin, like the feet. Microdermabrasion is also an effective form of mechanical exfoliation and is performed by a professional esthetician or dermatologist.
Chemical exfoliations typically use acids such as salicylic acid, glycolic acid , citric acid, malic acid and many more. Similarly, these acids are used to remove the outer layer of skin. These are also called “chemical peels”. In this category, we can include laser exfoliation which distributes heat to the surface of the skin removing the outer layer, thus promoting the natural production of collagen.
SIDE NOTE: In the Middle Ages, they used aged wine to exfoliate skin because its tarctic acid was purported to make the skin look more youthful. This type of “vinotherapy” is still used today. Cheers to that!
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS?
The benefits most often accredited to exfoliation include:
- Better skin health
- Youthful appearance
- Brighter skin “that glows”
- Removal of dead skin cells
- Improved circulation and collagen production
- Reduction in the appearance of cellulite (body exfoliation)
- Allows for increased absorption of moisturizers and serums
HOW CAN I GET STARTED?
As mentioned above there are a variety of ways to exfoliate your skin, both face and body. A simple search will reveal countess self-care options, or you may schedule services from your dermatologist and/or license esthetician. Prices vary from “almost free” DIY-at-home options, to professional services costing hundreds of dollars, per session.
TRIVIA TIME! The beautiful Cleopatra of Egypt was famous for her sour milk baths, which contained a naturally occurring lactic acid. There are countless examples throughout history of civilizations using other natural ingredients to help remove dead skin. These options ranged to include dried corncobs, sand and crushed seashells.
BUT PLEASE, DON’T OVERDO IT.
Exfoliation is one action in which “more” does not equal “better”. Though one may get excited about initial exfoliation results, it is important to consider that your skin needs time to heal before you exfoliate again. It is widely recommended not to exfoliate more than twice a week, though some products have been formulated for daily use. Read your labels.
IS IT BETTER TO EXFOLIATE IN THE MORNING OR AT NIGHT?
The best time to exfoliate may be different for different people, skin types or time of life. Many people choose to exfoliate at night to help remove any excess makeup or debris from the day. However, often a woman's night routine can include other harsh products which, when combined, could be damaging to your skin.
For this reason, others say morning is the preferred time to exfoliate. As your body repairs itself while you sleep, the morning is an opportunity to help slough away unnecessary and dead looking skin cells. A little experimentation should help you discover what is best for you personally.
LOVE THE SKIN YOU’RE IN!
Pay extra attention to protecting your skin from the sun after an exfoliation. You love your skin by covering your face and/or using a natural, non toxic sunscreen.
Also, do not wax your skin until it has had time to recover from your exfoliation treatment. You don’t want to tear off the living skin!