Why is exfoliation an important part of your skin care regimen?
Exfoliation refers to the removal of the dead skin cells on the skin’s surface. Our skin cells are in a constant state of migration and replacement. In approximately one month’s time, skin cells move up to the surface of the skin ( the epidermis), where they eventually die, break away from
the epidermis, and fall off, making room for newer cells growing up from below. Therefore, the skin you have a month from today will be different compared to the skin you have now.
Our skin’s cellular renewal rate slows down when we age. This is because there is less blood circulation, less oxygen is delivered to skin cells, so they are not replaced as quickly. This leads to a buildup of dull, dead surface cells and rough skin texture. When this build up occurs, skin conditions such as uneven skin tone and texture, fine lines and wrinkles, and pore size enlargement are more prevalent. Furthermore, if your skin tends to be more oily, the build-up of dead skin cells can result in excess oil and clogged pores, leading to blemishes and acne.
Proper exfoliation removes the barrier of dead skin cells clogging the skin and uncovers fresh new cells below. This opens the way for serums and moisturizing products to penetrate more deeply into the skin, which makes them more effective. A regular exfoliating routine will leave your skin looking more vibrant and healthy. The type of exfoliation and frequency will vary by skin type, issues, and sensitivity.
There are 3 types of exfoliators: 1) mechanical, 2) chemical, and 3) enzymatic. While mechanical exfoliators physically remove dead skin cells through a scrubbing action, chemical and enzymatic exfoliators work on the bonds, which hold the skin together.
Mechanical exfoliators include scrubs and micro-dermabrasion. Be careful to only use round, spherical beads in mechanical exfoliation or it can create micro-tears and worsen your skin’s texture. Do not use mechanical exfoliation if you have broken capillaries (teleangiectasia).
Alpha Hydroxy Acids:
What they do: They cause the cells of the epidermis to become “unglued” allowing the dead cells to slough off, making room for regrowth of new skin. AHA may even stimulate the production of collagen and elastin. The following are the five major types of alpha hydroxy acids found in skincare products and their sources:
- glycolic acid – sugar cane
- lactic acid – milk
- malic acid – apples and pears
- citric acid – oranges and lemons
- tartaric acid – grapes
AHAs are reported to improve wrinkling, roughness and mottled pigmentation of photodamaged skin after months of daily application. AHAs are recommended for all skin types but note any allergies given the type of acid used. Gentle AHA exfoliators (lower percentage acid with the addition of calming actives) are recommended for mature skin types and for rosacea.
Enzymes have a proteolytic effect and induce superficial exfoliation on the cells of the stratum corneum. Exfoliating enzymes remove the dry superficial, dull skin cells by digesting the proteins into smaller fragments, preventing a build-up. The most common enzymatic exfoliators are naturally derived from pineapple and papaya. Pineapple contains bromelain; Papain is an enzyme found in unripe papayas. Enzymatic exfoliation is recommended for skin that has a thicker stratum corneum and for oily skin types. It is not recommended for use on sensitive skin.
If you choose the appropriate exfoliator for your skin type, you should exfoliate every week for best results.