Skin exfoliation is a natural process which involves the expelling of dead skin cells from the skin’s surface. It is essential not only to skin smoothness and beauty, but also to its function; without proper exfoliation, the skin becomes thick, leathery, and more prone to blemishes.
Unfortunately, the skin’s natural exfoliation process is, like everything, imperfect. Dead skin cells build up too easily, causing the problems I mentioned above, in addition to skin dullness, rough skin texture, and even more pronounced lines and wrinkles. To help your skin function healthfully, here are some tips for how to exfoliate skin for optimum health and beauty.
Types of exfoliation include physical (like a scrub) or chemical. Now, don’t be scared away by the idea of chemical skin exfoliation — it doesn’t have to be (and shouldn’t be) harsh. It’s simply a way to describe a skin care exfoliator that removes dead skin cells without scrubbing or rubbing the skin. In fact, it is sometimes gentler than a physical scrub!
Physical exfoliation is any form of exfoliation with beads. These beads can be many size and shapes, and created with a variety of materials. Some people enjoy the feeling of scrubbing their skin with round silicone beads, brown sugar, or rice powder, while others find it to be too harsh for their sensitive skin.
Chemical exfoliation uses a variety of acids to gently lift dead skin cells, allowing them to be rinsed away with water. Ingredients like alpha hydroxy acids or salicyclic acid are actually very gentle and efficient when used for exfoliation, and they have the added benefit of being great for acne-prone skin types.
Some exfoliators actually use both types of exfoliation; chemical to loosen and lift dead skin cells, and physical to scrub them away. This is my personal favorite type of exfoliation since it attacks dead cells from all angles. However, very sensitive skin, including rosacea-prone and dry skin, may find this double-attack to be too much.
A lot of people ask, “how often should I exfoliate?” The answer depends on skin type, but as a general rule, most people should not exfoliate their skin every day. Remember that your skin has its own exfoliation process that only needs a little help now and then. For acne-prone, oily, sensitive, and rosacea skin, exfoliate only 1-2 times per week. For normal to dry skin, you can exfoliate 1-4 times per week, depending on how your skin handles it.
After exfoliation, your skin should immediately be softer, smoother, and more radiant. Your skin should not be reddened, raw, stinging, or peeling. If it is, you’ve been too rough with it! Proper exfoliation will help your face appear dewy and fresh, and makeup should apply beautifully.
Do you have a favorite exfoliation regimen, tip, or even a story of exfoliation gone wrong? Share it with us in the comments and let your voice be heard!