People – particularly women – have exfoliated their skin for thousands of years. In fact, most experts believe exfoliating goes back to Ancient Egyptian times. It was practiced for similar reasons it is today, i.e. it’s one of the most important things you can do to get healthy, glowing, and beautiful looking skin.
Some people concentrate their exfoliation efforts on their face but skin experts recommend you do your whole body so your skin looks great all over. This is particularly important in warmer months when you wear less clothing, or when wearing swimwear.
You can exfoliate your skin in multiple ways, plus there are benefits to your body that extend beyond the appearance of your skin. We’ll explore these things and more in this article.
What is Exfoliation?
Your skin continuously creates new cells. This renewal process takes place in the lower layers of your skin with the formation of new skin cells. This new skin then gradually rises to the top as old skin cells on the surface die.
It can, however, take some time for skin cells to fall off after they die. Dead skin cells that remain on the surface make your skin look dull and lifeless even though the new skin underneath is vibrant and fresh. Exfoliation brings this fresh new skin to the top making your skin look more radiant and healthy. It involves taking steps to remove dead and old skin cells from the surface of the skin, leaving just the new skin.
It’s a beauty process that can benefit people of all ages, but it becomes increasingly important as you age. This is because the cell turnover process slows as you get older. In other words, it takes even longer for new skin cells to be born and for dead cells to fall away. This is not uniform, however, so you can have patches of skin that renew faster than others. This results in dry, dull, uneven looking skin that has a rough texture. Exfoliation helps to counteract this.
Benefits of Regular Exfoliation
Here are the reasons why exfoliation should be part of your regularly beauty routine:
• Removes dead skin – exfoliating removes dull looking skin from the surface to reveal new and more radiant looking skin below. This gives you a healthier and rejuvenated appearance. It also helps to make your skin look younger. As a result, exfoliation is an essential part of all successful anti-aging routines.
• Improves results from skin care treatments – exfoliation also helps make your skin more receptive to all your skin treatments, including moisturizers and serums. These treatments penetrate deeper into the skin after you have exfoliated, multiplying the benefits and making your skin healthier, younger looking, and more beautiful.
• Helps skin all over your body – most skin and beauty experts recommend regular head to toe exfoliation to keep your skin looking as young, bright, and healthy as possible. Just make sure you don’t use products on your face that were designed for use on your body.
• You will have smoother and softer skin – exfoliating also makes your skin much smoother and softer to the touch. It removes rough patches and makes skin silky.
• Your skin will be cleaner – exfoliation helps to clean embedded dirt and oils from your pores to leave you with cleaner skin that is beneficial for oxygenation.
• Combats blemishes – blemishes and acne occur when your pores get blocked. By regularly exfoliating dead skin layers, pores remain clearer. In fact, there are studies dating back to the 1980s which show the benefits of exfoliating on skin conditions like acne.
• Fewer pimples and blackheads – the process of exfoliation also helps to clarify pimples and blackheads as well as helping to prevent them from occurring in the first place. This is one of the reasons you’ll have smoother skin when you exfoliate.
• Improved blood circulation – exfoliation improves blood circulation which brings a number of health benefits to your body. For your skin specifically, improved blood circulation improves skin elasticity and reduces the appearance of scars. It also promotes a healthier pace of skin cell renewal for more youthful looking skin.
Methods of Exfoliation
There are three main methods of exfoliation:
• Mechanical – using an abrasive material or substance to scrub the skin. These range from a simple wash cloth, to more abrasive sponges, and skin appliances including cleansing brushes and spatulas. Facial scrub formulas often contain particles that slightly abrade the skin to lift away top skin layers. Facial scrubs and body scrubs are typically different as the skin on your face is more sensitive than other parts of your body. It, therefore, needs a less abrasive and more gentle scrub.
• Chemical – using skin care creams and serums that have exfoliating properties. Most skin regimens contain such products that work to renew skin with citric acid (Vitamin C), salicylic acid, fruit enzymes, glycolic acid, malic acid, and Retinol (Vitamin A). They work by loosening the cells continually so they can be simply cleansed away.
• Hair removal – some methods of hair removal, such as waxing, threading, and shaving, also exfoliate the skin.
Eliminating Skin Redness
Exfoliating is a very safe process that rarely has side effects. That said, some people do complain of skin redness as a result of exfoliating. There are several reasons for this – understanding them can help you avoid skin redness in the future.
The most common reason for skin redness due to exfoliating is over exfoliating. You can even do this without knowing. This is because you may be combining mechanical exfoliation with chemical exfoliation; e.g. using an exfoliating scrub frequently along with skin care that has Retinol or glycolic acid in it. Each skin type needs a different level and frequency of exfoliation. It’s important to know how sensitive your skin is and adjust your exfoliation schedule accordingly. For instance, very oily and tougher skin types may be able to use a salicylic cream and also exfoliate with a scrub daily. Sensitive skin may be able to use a scrub only once a week. Experiment with your regimen until you achieve the best results without aggravating your skin.
So, one of the best ways to eliminate redness is to avoid over exfoliating.
There are some other causes of redness. This includes diet (eating too much spicy food) or exposing your skin to the sun immediately after exfoliating. No matter what your skin regimen, always use a sunscreen that has both UVA and UVB radiation protection. (EMK Guard Sunscreen is one I like because it makes skin photograph beautifully). You may also have very sensitive or reactive skin so should consider an exfoliation method that is less abrasive or intensive.
If you do experience redness after exfoliation, there are creams and serums with ingredients that calm skin. Two of the best are Supra Face Cream and Rescue Serum, both from EKM.
Firstly, make sure you take off your makeup and cleanse your skin before exfoliating. Another thing you can do is exfoliate in the morning. This gives the best results as your skin renews itself at night when you sleep, leaving more dead cells on your skin’s surface in the morning. When these layers are removed, skin treatments penetrate deeply and makeup applies more beautifully onto new, clear, smooth skin.
Finally, you should try my soon to come skin treatment, EMK 24K Gold Peeling Gel. It’s a non-chemical exfoliant that improves your skin in so many ways, including keeping it moisturized, firmed, and super toned. I’m recommending it to everyone because it’s so gentle and effective!