Skin cells renew regularly. Skin cell turnover with teenagers is about 30 days, while it can get to as many as 50 with age. Cells are “born” in the deepest layer of the skin and as they age, they make their way up to the top, where they form a protective layer for a while, and retire until there’s new dead cells and it’s time for the old ones to slough off. This dead cells’ layer is good! Because it protects our skin from UV damage and other environmental attacks. At the same time though, if it gets a little too crowded, it starts making our skin look dull and sad, and also forms blackheads (they are not wholes of dirt. They are dead skin cells clogging the pore). So, regular turnover is crucial for our skin’s smooth and lively appearance.
Exfoliation is the process of dead cells’ removal from the surface of the skin. As we age, the natural sloughing off of our dead skin cells slows down, so it is not a bad idea to help speed up the process a little. And there are numerous methods we can use, categorized in two types – mechanical and chemical exfoliation.
Mechanical exfoliation is the process where we use a product with sugar, jojoba beads, clay or other particles to massage our skin and physically take the dead skin cells off. If we choice to go this route, we want to make sure we are using a product with fine and gentle exfoliating particles, as we don’t want to scratch our skin. The above listed are in that category.
Chemical exfoliation on the other hand is the process of using acids, like Alpha Hydroxy and/or Beta Hydroxy acids, a.k.a AHA and BHA, which use enzymes that cause the bonds between the dead cells to break, thus allowing the dead cells to slough off. This is the process our skin uses naturally. If we decide to go down this path, we have to keep in mind our skin may need a little adjustment period to get used to it. Once or twice a week should be enough depending on your skin needs and how it feels.
A few rules for both methods:
Add exfoliating product to your evening routine, as your skin may be a little sensitive and less protected than usual, after using it;
If you do choose to exfoliate in the morning, make sure you apply a strong SPF product at the end of your routine (which you should be doing anyway);
Do moisturize well after exfoliation – it feels good and would calm your skin down.
Let us know in the comments what is your favorite way to exfoliate!