I happen to love freshly exfoliated skin. The softness, smoothness, and evenness of my skin after an exfoliation treatment always leave me wanting more.
However, giving in to my desires may do more harm than good since darker skin is prone to hyper-pigmentation if it experiences trauma. And let’s face it, exfoliation is, by nature, trauma to the skin.
Your skin’s job is to protect you day and night from the elements of the outside world, and that means it can take a massive beating from time to time.
There’s a lot that goes into keeping your skin healthy, and part of the process involves the constant regeneration of cells. You might not be aware of it, but your body produces new skin cells nonstop around the clock.
It’s an important process, but sometimes cells don’t slough off as well as they should, so they can end up clogging pores, which leads to breakouts. You can do your part to help facilitate the shedding of dead skin cells by exfoliating on a regular basis.
How Do you Know When you Need to Exfoliate?
- Our skin gives telltale signs when it needs exfoliation. If your skin is lackluster and feels dry to the touch, then it may be time to slough off dead skin cells.
- If your acne prone skin is no longer responding to your skincare regimen, then consider exfoliation. If your skin just feels like it needs a little pick-me-up, then exfoliate!
Generally, you could exfoliate your face twice a week, but there are a few factors that could affect how often you should do it. If you have delicate or sensitive skin, twice a week might be too much and could cause some irritation. On the other hand, if you live in a warmer climate or your skin is naturally oily, you might have to exfoliate more than twice a week to accommodate a higher buildup of dead skin cells.
Types of Exfoliations:
There are many exfoliation products on the market, but they all revolve around two types of exfoliation: physical and chemical.
Physical exfoliation is the mechanical process of removing surface dead skin. The abrasive or exfoliant forces the worn surface cells back and forth (and side to side), loosening up the grip of the intercellular cement—the adhesive made of oils and proteins that keep cells stuck together—eventually allowing the cell to break free.
Physical exfoliants can be synthetic, such as polyethylene, or as natural as strawberry seeds. They can be very hard and unforgiving, such as aluminum oxide crystals used for microdermabrasion, or soft like jojoba butter beads that melt on the skin. The downside to physical exfoliants is that many have edges that could potentially cause micro cuts on the skin, damaging the protective barrier.
Other physical exfoliants include pumice, sodium bicarbonate, loofah, walnut shells, apricot shells, coconut hull, polyethylene, sugar, salt, amber powder, diamond powder and polylactic acid.
Chemical exfoliation can be achieved with enzymes or acids. Enzymes used for exfoliation are a class of proteins known as proteolytic enzymes. Their sole existence is to breakdown long chain proteins into shorter portions. They are effective and gentle for cutting through the “cement” holding old cells in place on the surface of the skin.
There are different types of enzymes commonly used in skin care products. Food-based enzymes, such as bromelain, which is extracted from pineapple, and papain from unripe papayas (it’s also the main ingredient in meat tenderizer) are popular.
Pomegranate and pumpkin enzymes also have incredible topical benefits. Other protein-digesting enzymes used in skin care include protease, lipase, and subtilisin.
READ HERE : for Homemade AHA Facial Peel Mask
Acids, most commonly alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) and beta hydroxy acids (BHA), are widely-used chemical exfoliants. These acids work faster than enzymes, which can make them more irritating. Acids are used in professional-strength chemical peels administered by skincare professionals, as well as in skin care products for at-home use.
AHAs such as glycolic acid, lactic acid, and citric acid have wonderful anti-aging benefits to help moisturize, reduce fine lines and wrinkles and even out skin tone. BHAs are best suited for oily and acne-prone skin to reduce acne flare-ups and unclog pores.
You can identify AHA products by checking the label for the following acids: glycolic, lactic, citric, malic, tartaric and mandelic. Beta hydroxy acid usually refers only to salicylic acid.
Whichever exfoliation method you choose, use it wisely, and you won’t be disappointed!