Skin is able to replenish, maintain its optimum level and protect its barrier function; one of the ways is to shed dead skin cells and replace them with fresh new ones. Living in a world full of pollution, stress, lack of balance and general wellbeing can reduce this ability and over time, our skin starts to show the signs; it looks tired and dull.
You cleanse your face and body, nourish it with lotions and blends of oils every day, maybe not realising that water and oils are not enough. If you aim to have healthy, bright and hydrated skin and encourage natural cell turnover, then regular exfoliation should be added to your skincare routine.
Some exfoliating methods are more expensive, such as chemical exfoliation treatments, while other options, such as manual exfoliation, are easy on our wallet and demonstrate the same efficacy.
What is exfoliation?
Our skin sheds the whole layer of the outer skin and replaces it with new cells around 4 weeks, and this duration increases as we get older.
The new skin cells are always forming in the deepest layer of the epidermis. The epidermis consists of the outermost layers of cells in our skin. The new skin cells slowly make their way to the top epidermal layer until they break away from it and are shed as a squame (a dead skin tissue flake), making room for new cells to come up. The skin’s natural process where the first outer layer of the epidermis is being shed is called desquamation.
Why should you exfoliate and how do you benefit?
Not all dead cells break from the skin layers, they build on our skin and in hair follicles, resulting in clogged pores and dry, flaky skin. Your lotions and oils don't work effectively as they can't penetrate the skin easily. Regular exfoliation removes dead skin cells from the outer layer of our skin and allows new cells to rejuvenate, resulting in healthy, younger-looking skin.
This is why regular exfoliation is very important to prevent dry dull skin, allowing your skin to breathe, improve its moisture and overall appearance. Some benefits of regular exfoliation are:
- Improved skin tone and texture - smooth and brighten skin by exposing fresh skin cells
- Younger looking skin - prevent the look of early ageing by removing dead skin
- Ingrown hair prevention - exfoliate dry skin away to prevent hair being trapped
- Skin impurity minimisation - prevent dirt and skin clogging
- Fresh and alive foundation - fresh skin for better absorption of beauty products
- Naturally looking make-up - apply make-up to the perfect canvas of fresh skin
- Increased collagen production - regularly exfoliate to reduce wrinkles and restore elasticity
How to exfoliate your skin
Chemical peels are available as a deeper method of exfoliation. Unlike the manual exfoliation, the chemical peel process utilises exfoliating acids, such as alpha-hydroxy acids (AHAs) and beta-hydroxy acids (BHAs) which gently dissolve dead skin cells. Chemical exfoliation may sound a bit harsh and irritating to the skin, but there are many mild exfoliators that are gentle and effective. The chemical exfoliators can leave your skin a bit more sensitive, requiring protection for a few days after the treatment.
Physical exfoliation is a method of removing dead, dry skin manually, such as with high-quality body brushes, loofah, muslin cloth or cleaning body scrubs.
Exfoliation doesn’t need to be complicated. Body brushing is a gentle, simple and effective traditional exfoliating method, using a body brush with only natural fibres, such as jute or sisal. It is a simple technique, done in less than three minutes in the comfort of your home, leaving you with fresher, smoother and brighter-looking skin. Follow up with your favourite cream or lotion to moisturise your skin and allow it to absorb all the active ingredients from your oil blend or lotion.
Using high-quality exfoliators with natural fibres or ingredients helps to create a luxurious home spa treatment to take care of yourself and feel and look good.
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Reference: Akclinics.org; add.org (American Academy of Dermatology)