What is exfoliation?
Do I need it?
Exfoliating is the process of removing dead skin cells from the surface of your skin. The outermost layer of skin is our stratum corneum and it is made up of dead skin cells that naturally slough off and are replaced with new cells every 2 weeks. There are a myriad of reasons and influences that disturb or slow down this process which can lead to clogged pores and texture. Exfoliating helps you stay on top of clearing away the dead skin.
There are a multitude of benefits to exfoliating that can be appreciated by everyone - smooth texture, allow for deeper hydration, clear breakouts, slow down signs of aging - the list goes on. There are two modes of exfoliation - physical and chemical. They both have their advantages and disadvantages, either can become too aggressive so finding a mode that is most appropriate for you will give you the most benefit!
This is a mode of buffing away dead skin with the use of a textured tool (cloth, sponge, brush) or a product with scrubbing agents (jojoba beads, apricot kernels, oatmeal, sugar/salt, etc.). This is a popular method because it gives you an immediate result of a smoother texture - it feels productive. You can also reuse a tool for a certain amount of time making it a more economic and environmentally friendly option.
The disadvantages are that it only affects the top layer of skin with a risk of damaging your skin by scrubbing too hard. This leads to vulnerable skin that is more susceptible to bacteria, dryness and sensitivities, and hyperpigmentation. It’s very important to find a mode of physical exfoliation that balances removing dead skin while being gentle.
Acids and enzymes are the most popular forms of chemical exfoliation, and they work by breaking down dead layers of skin. This method works more evenly than a physical exfoliant, but is slower to reveal results. These products often have more benefits than exfoliating like brightening, hydrating and evening out hyperpigmentation.
The potential disadvantages of a chemical exfoliant is that there is a heavier ingredient load and a more extreme pH that could cause irritation. It is always important to start with a gentle option and only use it as recommended to set yourself up for success. Chemical exfoliants also cause a bit of photo-sensitivity so it is very important to wear your sunscreen to protect the vulnerable skin from UV radiation.
- Never exfoliate over broken skin!
- Over exfoliating does more harm than good - always start small (once a week, every few days) and evaluate how your skin is responding.
- When using an exfoliating toner, let the product sit on your face for at least a few minutes before applying serums/moisturizers.
- Lastly, if you are exfoliating - wear your sunscreen to avoid further skin damage!
If you have questions about products or routines, reach out to us here!