A beginner's guide to exfoliation
Regular exfoliation is a critical step in any skincare regimen. Most people have questions about how and when to exfoliate properly. If you've been looking for a beginner's guide to exfoliation, this guide is for you.
Essential elements of a good skin care regimen include healthy lifestyle choices like exercise, eating healthy foods, staying adequately hydrated, and getting quality sleep. It's equally important to have a consistent skin care regimen that focuses on cleansing, moisturizing, and protecting (always use sunscreen!) with high-quality skincare products and ingredients.
Part of the cleansing process goes beyond your choice of face wash: exfoliation is a way to aid the skin as it constantly repairs and replaces itself.
Proper exfoliation ensures we are thoroughly cleansing skin from the outside, while aiding skin in its natural process of rebuilding from the inside. As we age, the skin's ability to regenerate slows down, making exfoliation even more vital for smooth, glowing skin, and it brings some benefits which may surprise you.
The Benefits of Exfoliation
Exfoliating doesn't have to be mystifying. It's simply the process of removing dead skin cells and dirt and oil from the surface of the skin. Exfoliation is a vital part of any skincare routine because it gets rid of debris that clogs pores, causes skin irritation, and leaves skin looking dull with an uneven texture.
Congested skin and clogged pores can get in the way of the optimal absorption of any skincare product you apply. Proper exfoliation ensures clear pores and skin that is better able to absorb the beneficial ingredients of the skincare products that follow.
Exfoliation also promotes blood flow to the skin's surface. This improves the supply of oxygen and other nutrients to the skin and aids skin's natural ability to regenerate itself. It also encourages your body to produce more collagen, an essential protein responsible for supporting skin smoothness, suppleness, and youthfulness.
This "healthy glow" isn't possible without exfoliation. Regular exfoliation removes old skin cells, improves skin tone, and leaves skin smoother, softer, and brighter. Exfoliation is critical to a clear complexion.
Good Exfoliation is Careful Exfoliation
The only thing worse than not exfoliating is exfoliating in a way that irritates or damages the skin. Your skin type and level of sensitivity, as well as any underlying conditions you may have, will dictate best practices for your preferred method of exfoliation.
Exfoliating too frequently or forcefully can irritate or damage sensitive skin. It's important to remember that your skin's sensitivity may change based on the season, your diet, or other variables.
When in doubt, be gentle with your skin. If you develop any redness or irritation, that's a sign your skin needs a break. Give it several days to heal. Properly clean and moisturize your skin, but take a break from exfoliation. Once your skin is healed and free of irritation, go back to exfoliation with a more delicate touch or a gentler exfoliating product.
There are 2 methods of exfoliation: physical (or mechanical) versus chemical/enzymatic. Some products incorporate a combination of both.
Physical exfoliation refers either to products containing granules like sugar, crushed apricot kernels, walnut shell powder, or pumice, or a tool like a loofah or sponge that physically removes dead skin cells from the uppermost layer of the skin. Both scrubs and tools effectively remove debris from the skin's surface, but you'll want to be careful not to overdo it.
Chemical exfoliation relies on chemicals in the form of acids and enzymes to loosen the bonds between cells. Among the most common acids used are alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) and beta hydroxy acids (BHAs), while fruit enzymes like papaya, pineapple and pumpkin work in the same way but at a slower pace. Sensitive skin and acne-prone skin may benefit from this approach as acids and enzymes may be less likely to cause irritation.
Which method you choose depends on how your skin reacts to different types of exfoliation and your personal preference.
Proper Exfoliation Procedures
No matter which method you choose, proper exfoliation starts with clean skin. Use a gentle yet effective face wash and thoroughly rinse your skin.
Whether using a scrub like Enzyme Ex-Cell that contains walnut shell powder and papaya enzyme, or an exfoliating lotion like HydrO2xy-10 that incorporates glycolic (AHA) and salicylic (BHA) acid, your skin should be clean before applying an exfoliating product.
When using an exfoliating scrub or cleanser, gently massage the product into damp skin. Apply light pressure and avoid the area around your eyes. Since Enzyme Ex-Cell is both a physical and enzymatic exfoliant, you can massage it like a scrub and rinse immediately or apply it like a mask and leave on for up to 5-10 minutes. Rinse thoroughly with lukewarm water. Pat dry with a clean towel and follow with your preferred toner, serums and moisturizer.
When using an exfoliating lotion like HydrO2xy-10, follow your usual steps for cleansing and apply the lotion after your preferred toner and serums. If using during the day, don't forget to apply sunscreen.
When and How Often to Exfoliate
There are some benefits to exfoliating first thing in the morning. Your skin's natural renewal process is most active overnight as you sleep, resulting in a fine layer of skin debris covering your face (not to mention bacteria that may have transferred from your pillowcase). Removing that dull skin exposes the fresh, new skin beneath and ensures you meet the day with your best face forward.
How often you exfoliate is determined by your skin type and sensitivity. For normal skin, you'll want to exfoliate up to one to three times a week. If you have oily skin, you'll have the best results exfoliating slightly more often—between two and three times per week. Those with sensitive or dry skin should only exfoliate once or twice a week to avoid irritation.
Always pay attention to how your skin feels and looks after exfoliation. Take a break if you show any irritation, inflammation, or redness that lasts longer than a few minutes. You may need to use a lighter touch or a product made for more sensitive skin.
A Beginner's Guide to Exfoliation: The Final Word
Achieving soft, glowing skin doesn't have to be confusing or complicated.
We all know the importance of a healthy lifestyle in regard to skin health: proper rest and nutrition, drinking plenty of water, using the right products for your skin type and environment. Part of a healthy skincare regimen also includes exfoliation. Every skin type can benefit from some form of exfoliation. The most important part is choosing the right type of exfoliation for your skin, and not to overdo it.