Why exfoliate?

Beauty advisors and bloggers are always telling you to exfoliate your face and body. You’re wondering why it’s so important and if it really works. Here are some answers, together with tips and advice on exfoliating.

What is exfoliation?

It means getting rid of dead skin cells on the skin’s surface thereby exposing healthy skin tissue which is still alive! Exfoliation helps in the destruction of these dead skin cells.

What’s the purpose of’ exfoliation?

New skin will be revealed with a more radiant appearance, fewer blackheads and even fewer pimples.
Skin cells are renewed each month so of course some of them have to die. The skin naturally gets rid of some of the dead skin but the rest stays trapped in the pores thereby blocking them. Blocked pores can create blackheads or pimples if the sebum can’t get through the blocked pore and inflammation is created, an acne pimple. The other disadvantage of dead skin cells is that they give you a greyish, dull and uneven complexion. When you get rid of the dead skin, you look better immediately!

Different types of exfoliants (scrubs)

There are two types: chemical and physical.

Physical exfoliants (scrubs) are minuscule granules that you rub on the surface of the skin to get rid of the dead skin. These are mostly gels or lotions containing different types of particles such as little beads made of synthetic material, or particles of nuts, apricot kernels, sugar, sea salt etc. You can also use a loofah or a specially-designed exfoliating mitt. However, bear in mind that some exfoliants can irritate the skin. I recommend you use the synthetic micro-beads (the rounded surface is less irritating than an irregular one). You can also get special brushes. They’re often spherical, so that the rotating movement is easier to perform. You can get manual or electric ones (like electric toothbrushes). You don’t have to do the movement yourself; the brush does it for you.

As for chemical exfoliants, you don’t need to rub, you just apply it and the product does the work. These products usually contain alpha-hydroxy acids, glycolic acid or salicylic acid. Sometimes they come in mask form and contain both types of exfoliants. If you have sensitive skin, you should also beware of chemical exfoliants as they can be irritating too. Now companies are starting to offer different levels of concentration in the product. This is often the case with glycolic acid. Usually you can get 4%, 8% and 10% in over-the-counter products.

How to exfoliate

With chemical exfoliants, follow the package directions. For physical exfoliants, it’s important not to rub too hard. You usually need water. Wet your face, then with the ends of your fingers, massage the granules using a circular movement on the surface of the skin but don’t press too hard and don’t rub too vigorously. Keep going gently for about 2 minutes as if your skin was like a tomato. Then rinse off, apply a toner and a moisturizer or a mask (moisturizing for dry, normal and combination skin, or clay for oily skin.)

Body Scrub
Tips and advice for exfoliating

-You can do your face and your body. Some products are designed specially for the face and body as well. But most of them are for one or the other. Never use a body exfoliant on your face. The granules are larger and could irritate your face.
-Always finish with a moisturizer. This will soothe and protect your skin after a thorough cleansing and will give it back its hydrolipidic shield, sometimes removed during exfoliation. Skin without its protective barrier will rapidly become wrinkled.
-If you use a chemical exfoliant, begin with the weakest level and increase as you skin becomes used to the product. A too-strong level of product could cause irritation. With regular use, the skin becomes less sensitive to chemical exfoliants unless you have a serious intolerance, but expect to see redness and fell a stinging sensation when you first start to use it.
-If you want to economise, you can make your own. Use sugar or sea salt and mix with olive, almond or jojoba oil. Make the mixture just before you want to use it. You could also add a few drops of essential oil to make it smell nice or add other properties.
-You should avoid exfoliation on areas where you have broken capillaries or rosacea.
-People with severe acne should avoid using physical exfoliants because these can stimulate the sebaceous glands to produce more sebum. This will make your face oilier and cause even more acne pimples. Go for products containing salicylic acid; this is an anti-acne agent as well as a good exfoliant. Glycolic acid is good for acne-prone skins too.

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