Exfoliation: The Basics

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Exfoliation is a now being recognised as a necessary part of our skin care routine, so it is important to look into what our options are regarding how, where and what to exfoliate with and what the benefits of exfoliating are.

Where to Exfoliate

You can exfoliate the skin on your face, body and feet. Many aren’t aware, but you can also exfoliate your scalp! Scalp exfoliation can help do the following things:

  • Help to remove dead skin cells
  • Unclog pores by removing build up
  • Prevent hair loss and stimulates the scalp promoting hair growth
  • Treat acne, white heads and other blemishes that can occur on the scalp
  • Help prevent hair loss
  • Relieve irritated and itchy scalps caused by different scalp conditions

What is exfoliation?

This is the removal of dead, keratinized skin cells sitting on the surface of the skin.

Every 4 to 6 weeks, our skin goes through the process of re-generation. New skin cells are formed while the old ones are meant to slough off, in order to reveal new, healthy skin underneath.

But here is the main question, if this process is meant to happen every 4 to 6 weeks, how come our skin doesn’t look the same as it did when we were children? Smooth, supple and healthy?

This is because, as we age, the rate at which our cells turn over slows down. The old skin cells pile up on the skin’s surface unevenly, causing our skin to look, dry, dull and uneven in texture and tone.

Exfoliation is important because it helps us get rid of those dead cells that are piled on our skin’s surface, revealing fresher, healthier and younger looking skin underneath.

The two types of exfoliation.

Now that we know the reason behind exfoliation, how do we do it and what is used?

There are two types of exfoliation; manual exfoliation and chemical exfoliation.

In chemical exfoliation, naturally occurring enzymes such as alpha-hydroxy acids (AHA’s) or beta-hydroxy acids (BHA’s) are used on the skin because they have the ability to loosen the glue-like substance that holds the dead cells together, making it easy for those dead cells to be removed.

Popular chemical exfoliation acids include salicylic, lactic and glycolic acid as well as TCA and Beta peels.

These substances are effective because they are naturally occurring and are easily absorbed into the skin. These carefully formulated products are great at getting rid of dead skin cells that cause hyper pigmentation, deep-set acne and old scars.

Manual exfoliation on the other hand is done by rubbing a rough substance on the skin, to break up the dead cells and slough them off the skin. This can be achieved by the use of a body or face scrub, dry brushing or using a loofah during your shower.

Body scrubs are a popular method of exfoliation because they are effective and reliable. They can also be referred to as body polish, body exfoliates or body gloss.

Dry brushing is an exfoliating technique where one uses a dry body brush to slowly and lightly brush over the surface of the skin to loosen up the dead skin cells, so that they can easily be washed away.

Benefits of Exfoliation

So why should we exfoliate?

The dead skin cells that are accumulated on the skin’s surface cause our skin to look dull, dry and uneven in tone and texture. They also clog the pores, hindering moisturizers and hydrators from easily being absorbed into the deeper layers of the skin.

Exfoliation, in working to remove this dead skin, helps in improving the texture, tone and general look and feel of the skin. Hydrators and Moisturisers are also easily absorbed into the skin. In addition, clogged pores are cleaned out, meaning those who suffer from body acne can also benefit by incorporating exfoliation into their shower routine, as they would be getting rid of the impurities that would otherwise cause more breakouts.

*Please Note: Exfoliation is a great practice to adopt in order to take better care of your skin, but make sure not to over do it! Try not to exfoliate your skin more than once a week to avoid causing any damage.

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