Exfoliating your skin on a regular basis is a crucial part of your skincare regime. Even if you feel that you are using an effective cleanser, a balancing toner, a hydrating moisturizer, and a high-quality sunblock, none will work optimally if you aren’t exfoliating – so much so that you may be wasting your money on high-end products. The reason is that dead skin cells build up on the surface of the face, creating a barrier that won’t allow your skin to breathe properly, nor allow products to be absorbed. Over time, dead skin cell buildup can lead to dull looking skin, blocked pores and breakouts.
What is Exfoliation?
Exfoliation is the method of mechanically or chemically removing the dead skin cells on the skin’s surface. Dirt, pollution and products contribute to this cell build up – as well as age, as older skin simply doesn’t regenerate as well as young skin.
Proper exfoliation is so important because it removes the layer of dead skin cells covering the skin, and reveals fresh new cells below. It also allows the new skin to welcome products, such as toners, serums, and moisturizers, to absorb effectively and work optimally for your face.
There are two types of exfoliating techniques:
Mechanical Exfoliation is a method that uses your hands, a cloth or product, such as a salt scrub, to slough dead skin cells off of the body. These types of scrubs can also contain sugar or small round, gentle beads like jojoba beads to rub away the dead skin. It’s important to look for a scrub that has ingredients that will dissolve upon contact or gently work on the skin cells, as anything rough (like walnut shells) can cause damage to the skin.
If you’re looking for a powerful and effective exfoliation treatment, speak to your aesthetic specialist about an in-spa microdermabrasion. During this procedure, an aesthetic specialist “sands” away dead skin using a specialized instrument and a specific exfoliating formula. This technique is the most effective type of mechanical exfoliation and can result in healthy and youthful looking skin.
Chemical Exfoliation is when a chemical or enzyme, such as alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) or beta hydroxy acids (BHAS) loosen the binding mechanism that holds the dead skin cells to healthy, new cells. Visualize it as a pair of scissors, snipping all the old skin away from the new skin underneath. A Facial Peel is an effective type of chemical exfoliation. While you can buy certain chemical peel treatments over the counter, it is best to leave this practice to your medical aesthetics specialist, as certain types of peels may not be suitable for your skin type.
Important facts about Facial Exfoliation
It’s important to take extra care with the delicate skin of your face, so don’t over-exfoliate, over-peel or use anything that you’ve not tested on a small patch of skin beforehand. This is especially true if you have sensitive, acne prone or rosacea prone skin. Further, don’t over-exfoliate, especially in warm or sunny weather, as it can make your skin more susceptible to sun damage. And finally, if you do regular body scrubs, never get lazy and use it on your face – its ingredient and exfoliators are usually way too harsh for the delicate facial skin.
Other Benefits of Exfoliating
Not only will your skin look, feel and react better to your complementary face products, exfoliation can also help your skin in other ways
- Achieve a closer shave
- Reduce ingrown hairs
- Effective prep product for optimal self-tanning application
How to Find the Best Exfoliator for You
Your aesthetic specialist will evaluate your skin type and help you find the best product for you. For example, if you have oily or acne-prone skin, choose a scrub with an oil-absorbing or antibacterial agents, such as salicylic acid or a hydroxyl acid. If your skin is drier, go for a creamy exfoliator. For sensitive, rosacea-prone or reactive skin, choose one that is gentle, fragrance-free and contains no harsh ingredients. Try to use a small sample of a product before purchasing to see if the product is right for you, and always speak to your skincare or aesthetic specialist for suggestions or advice.