Did you know that we lose around 30,000-40,000 dead skin cells every moment of the day? Fortunately, the skin does not shed off completely due to the continuous formation of fresh skin cells by the epidermis (skin’s outermost layer). It takes between 15 days and a month for the new cells to surface and replace the dead ones. Unlike children whose skin renews itself continuously, adults’ skin cells shed and rejuvenate at a slower pace. The result: dull patches on your skin, enlarged pores, the risk of acne breakouts, blackheads, jaded look and more rapid visible aging. So how do you claim back the soft and glowing skin? The answer, exfoliation.
The Importance Of Exfoliation
Exfoliation – removing dead cells from the skin – is the key. As our skin repairs itself at night, the best time to exfoliate is in the morning. Skincare specialists call it “a necessary stage of the beauty routine if you want the best-looking skin” because without exfoliation, even if you cleanse, moisturize and use sunscreen, your skin health won’t be as good as it can be. This is because the penetration levels and thus the effectiveness of the creams and lotions will be significantly lower when your skin is dry and flaky. Exfoliation can be done in several ways such as manual scrubs, chemical peels, and mechanical exfoliation. The simplest and most inexpensive method is to simply use a washcloth – its fabric is an effective remover of excess oils and dirt.
Choosing An Exfoliant
Some aestheticians say that a versatile exfoliant is best as it is both mechanical (removing dead skin cells through friction) and chemical (dissolving dead skin cells using enzymes or acids). It provides the option to scrub the oilier problem areas and be gentler with the drier parts of the face. Look out for exfoliants containing calming and anti-inflammatory agents such as galactoarabinan, cinnamon, jojoba, bamboo beads and cinnamon enzymes. For sensitive skin, experts advise “very gentle, smooth bead exfoliants because they gently remove debris and aren’t overly harsh.” If you want to pamper your skin even more, you can follow up with a serum, moisturizer and toner, suggests American dermatologist Dr. Elizabeth Tanzi whose twice-weekly exfoliation regimen has evened out her skin, reduced its splotchiness and “it’s got that glow!”
Care During Exfoliation
Dermatologists differ on how often exfoliation should be done although the general recommendation is twice weekly for normal skin, and once for sensitive skin. Anything more and you could end up with red, splotchy and inflamed skin. Celebrity facialist Joanna Vargas warns that daily exfoliation can “strip the skin of its natural oils, cause breakouts (and) irritation because you’re removing the top layer before it can heal.” Over-exfoliating can also thin the skin and slow cell turnover, causing it to wrinkle more easily and resulting in accelerated aging. When optimally done, exfoliation removes dead skin cells clogging the skin and reveals fresh new cells, leaving you with skin that’s healthy, fresh and radiant.
AHA – The Dead Skin Detacher
Alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) are natural acids found in fruits such as oranges and pumpkins, commonly found in skincare products, and act as chemical exfoliants to loosen and rid of the dead surface skin cells. According to the Harvard Medical School, they are more effective than abrasive exfoliants such as scrubs and cloth. For best results, look out for exfoliants with AHA levels of 10 percent or less. Nevertheless, it is recommended that you wear a sunscreen whenever you use an AHA-boosted cream or product because the acids may increase your skin’s sensitivity to burning from the sun.