Exfoliation 101 or the secret for a safe, glowier skin
The key attribute of a youthful, healthy-looking complexion is radiance.
With age, radiance diminishes as the skin cell turnover rate slows down. This results in the buildup of dead dead cells on top of our skin, creating the appearance of rough, dry skin, enlarged pores, and poor light reflection.
Exfoliation plays a key role in skin care. The process helps by getting rid of dead skin cells and cleaning your pores from grime while reducing the appearance of acne, fine lines, and wrinkles. Regular exfoliation also allows for better penetration of serums and moisturizers so that they work more effectively.
Over the past 2 decades, exfoliation has gained in popularity because of its almost immediate demonstrable benefits and the ease and variety of available products.
Commonly used chemical exfoliants include glycolic, lactic, and malic acids, known as α-hydroxy acids (AHAs), and salicylic acid, which is a β-hydroxy acid (BHA). Concentrations in excess of 10% to 15% in the case of AHA and 2% in β-hydroxy acid require professional administration; however, concentrations below this threshold may be safely used at home on a regular basis.
Exfoliating products continue to evolve as manufacturers seek the right balance of ingredients.
Physical exfoliation is available in a wide range of products as an alternative to or in combination with chemical exfoliation; these products include topical cleansing scrubs containing a variety of abrasive solid particulates, mechanical facial brushes, sonicating devices, and mildly abrasive cosmetic tools such as microexfoliating rollers.
Physical exfoliation induces an immediate desquamation, which in some cases can produce a temporary disruption of the skin barrier, resulting in increased transepidermal water loss, inflammation, redness and long term skin problems.
It is very important to choose gentle ingredients in physical exfoliation products to avoid microtears on the skin.
How long and how rigorously a person scrubs his or her face will determine whether the skin gets irritated. There’s also the matter of the granules, or the specific grains that make up different scrubs. Large, hard particles like salts, coffee beans, sugar or apricot kernel powder, are the most damaging because they are too abrasive for the face’s thin skin.
The rough nature of sugar scrubs, for example, makes them far too harsh for facial skin. They can create small tears in the skin and lead to damage, leading to irritation, redness, inflammation, dryness, scratches, wounds and aggravation of problems like acne.
Softer and smaller paste-like micro-grains are less likely to irritate. Jojoba beads, clays or bamboo powder, for example, are ideal for a soft yet efficacious mechanical exfoliation.
You should exfoliate your face one to three nights a week depending on your skin type. Remember the penetration of actives is easier after exfoliation so try and use your acid free treatments (like masks, serums, etc) right after your peel night.
Rodan K, Fields K, Majewski G, Falla T. Skincare Bootcamp: The Evolving Role of Skincare. Plast Reconstr Surg Glob Open. 2016;4(12 Suppl Anatomy and Safety in Cosmetic Medicine: Cosmetic Bootcamp):e1152. Published 2016 Dec 14. doi:10.1097/GOX.0000000000001152