The Power of Exfoliation

What is Exfoliation and what does it do?

The importance of exfoliating the face and body is overlooked by people sometimes because they are not well informed about the processes of skin regeneration.
Exfoliation means the removal of dead skin cells, you can do this by using a chemical, granular substance, or an exfoliation tool. The skin is the bodies largest organ. Naturally we shed and renew our skin in a 4 to 6 week cycle. This process allows the skin cells to make their way from the dermis to the epidermis (top layer of the skin) and eventually degenerate. This cycle slows down as we age and the skin gets thicker allowing it to dull. At this point we usually begin to invest in skincare products that promise anti-ageing benefits.  Consistent use of topical products builds extra dead cells on the skin, clogging up pores that eventually turn into undesirable acne or other dermal-related conditions.
Exfoliating ensures that the dead cells are completely removed. If we don’t remove dead cells, our skin can appear dull and in time our pores become blocked which often leads to a breakout of acne or oily skin. While you might already know that exfoliating your skin gives it that fresh glow, helping it to look more vibrant, you may not know that it improves the health of your skin.

Benefits of exfoliating your skin.

·       It unclogs pores, improving the release of natural moisturising oils. 

·       It removes pigment-containing skin cells to fade age spots.

·       It minimizes the appearance of pores and scars in the upper layers of skin.

·       It reduces the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.

·       It improves absorption of moisturisers and other skincare products.

·       It helps reduce the frequency and severity of breakouts by unclogging pores.

 .       It improves collagen production to improve skin elasticity and it increases cell turnover.

What is Chemical Exfoliation ?

Chemical exfoliation involves different types of acids and is one of the most popular exfoliation methods chosen nowadays. Chemical exfoliants are the acids that come in various concentrations and helps remove dead skin cells. 

The weaker formulas can be purchased over the counter while the stronger ones need to be applied by your skincare specialist in the form of a chemical peel. These peels break the bonds of the glue like substance that hold the  dead built up skin cells skin together. As these bonds break the top layer of the skin shed and the regenerated skin is revealed without any downtime.

  • A combination of Azelaic acid, citric acid, glycolic acid, malic acid, mandelic acid, retinoic acid, and salicylic acid are used to treat acne.
  • Dark spots are treated with a combination of Azelaic acid, carbolic acid, citric acid, glycolic acid, lactic acid, malic acid, lactobionic acid, mandelic acid, retinoic acid, salicylic acid, and tartaric acid.
  • Sun damage is treated with azelaic acid, carbolic acid, citric acid, glycolic acid, lactic acid, malic acid, mandelic acid, retinoic acid, and tartaric acid.
  • Scarring is treated with azelaic acid. Carbolic acid, glycolic acid, malic acid, retinoic acid, and salicylic acid.
  • Regular peeling helps the skin look smoother and toned, clogging the pores and making the signs of aging less apparent.

It can be quite hard to get your head around hearing the word ‘acid’ associated with ‘skincare’ but the main 3 which are used to help your facial skin are: AHA, BHA, PHA these refer to the three hydroxy acids that are found in various substances in nature, namely Alpha Hydroxy acids, Beta Hydroxy acids, and Poly Hydroxy acids. (Check out the diagram above). Each of the acids has its own unique property, allowing it to be used for specific purposes or skin types. For instance, some are good for oily skin while others are for dry skin, and some acids are suitable options for sensitive skins that could react to skincare products. Alpha Hydroxy Acids are generally used for exfoliation, as they help break down the bonds between skin cells (the fancy word for it is desmosome) to allow them to be cleaned easily.  Beta Hydroxy Acids improves hydration by lifting dead skin cells and cleaning out clogged pores also used as an exfoliant. There is so much more detail to talk about on these acids but this is just a tiny bit information to get you familiarised with them.

Physical Exfoliation.

While acids chemically remove the outer layers of the skin, the physical ones do so manually or mechanically. Physical exfoliants such as a scrub, loofah, certain dermatological brushes, or procedures like dermabrasion can suit some people. However most skin types show some kind of aversion to physical exfoliation as they can be abrasive and harsh on your skin. Also physical methods do not have the same penetration or depth as the chemical exfoliant and may or may not be effective alone. Physical exfoliators are particularly good for exfoliating the body as they involve massaging action and stimulate circulation. Exfoliating skincare products are skin scrubs that contain small granules of salt, sugar, nutshells or beads. These particles act as an abrasive to clear away skin cells and debris. The scrubbing motion increases blood flow to the area for a healthy glow.
Physical exfoliation methods available through your nurse or beauty therapist include microdermabrasion and dermaplaning. Microdermabrasion and it’s more aggressive partner, dermabrasion, both smooth the skin through a ‘sanding’ process and can be effective in reducing the appearance of wrinkles and scars.

Tips and how to exfoliate your skin.

How Often Should You Exfoliate?

We recommend exfoliating your skin twice a week as part of your weekly skincare routine. Exfoliation is all about balance – whilst it’s important to buff away dead skin cells you also want to take care not to strip away too many of your skin’s natural oils. By maintaining a twice-weekly exfoliating regime, you can keep dry, dull skin at bay.
When exfoliating, it’s important to be gentle on your skin, being too harsh can be drying and could lead to microtears and if you over exfoliate your skin you might find that you have problems such as:

*Itching or irritation
*Dry stretchy skin
*Wrinkles look more prominent
*Flaking for more than a week
*Spots getting darker

Whether you’re using an exfoliating scrub or an exfoliating body puff or brush, make small, circular motions over the area you want to exfoliate try and avoid pulling on the skin. Exfoliate each area for 20-30 seconds then rinse off with warm water, hot water may cause irritation.  After exfoliating apply a nourishing moisturiser to reap the benefits of healthy hydrated skin. Avoid exfoliating if you have any cuts, open wounds or sunburn on your skin, to not further irritate your skin.
If you’re guilty of neglecting to exfoliate your skin, it’s likely that your skin is also suffering from dehydration. As layers of dead skin cells build it can be harder for your skin to absorb the hydrating moisturiser you apply.  As you get older and your skin ages you may notice darker pigmentation spots, reduced elasticity and rough patches on your skin. Exfoliating is beneficial for breaking up these pigmented cells and removing build-up of dry skin to help retain your skins healthy glow and smooth, soft texture as you mature. With a regular exfoliating and moisturising regime, you will soon notice your complexion transform from dull and dry to soft and glowing. Always apply a sunscreen after your moisturiser in the daytime.

Acne isn’t just due to dirty skin. It’s due to the pores getting blocked, and that can be from dirt or even natural oils that the skin produces. The exfoliating process helps to open the pores so that the skin can breathe properly and the oils can be released fully.
While doing all this, it can also offer the benefit of better blood circulation. It can help to bring back some colour to your skin, and improve the elasticity. It will also help to reduce the appearance of scars. Improved blood circulation also means that other organs and the brain will get more oxygenated blood.

 However there is no risk to exfoliating if it is done with the correct product for your skin type so make sure you get the right products for you, if you are not sure then contact us and we will book you in for a free skincare consultation. Its important to remember that not all skin on your body is the same, your face and neck is much more fragile than other areas. For the face and neck, our favourite product to use is the ZO Skin Health Exfoliating Polish and the Exfoliation Accelerator which is a AHA complex and provides gentle yet effective exfoliation of dead skin cells and increases cell turnover, helping to soften texture and even skin tone. For chemical peel products, follow the instructions and don’t be tempted to leave it on for longer than recommended.

Our experts say that their top tip for successfully exfoliating your face (or any body part) is to do so in a warm, steamy shower or bath. “The warmth of a shower softens the skin and releases the body’s natural oils, all while opening your pores. This aids in the exfoliation process and the removal of dead skin cells. Though any time of day will work, exfoliating in the morning is ideal because the skin repairs itself at night, potentially leaving a layer of dead skin cells just begging to be brushed off.