Glowing, smooth and even toned skin never gets old or become less trendy. This being said, an aged, dull look is never on trend. Exfoliation is the key.
Is exfoliation important in skincare or not?
First, we need to look at the skin as an organ. The skin “shed” at an average rate of 29 days. This means that old, dead skin cells are replaced with new cells almost monthly. In this instance exfoliation is not necessarily that important, as the skin remains looking alive and glowing. As we age and expose our skin to external factors (sun, temperature changes, pollution) and internal factors (stress, medication, illness), the cell turnover slows gradually and become as slow as 90 days. This is where dullness, uneven skin tone, premature aging, blackheads, whiteheads and breakouts become a problem. When one of these factors are present on the skin, it is screaming “please help, I am congested!”. In other words, the dead skin cells are stuck and are struggling to slough off on its own.
What are the options available for exfoliation and what is best for which skin?
There are two options:
- Physical exfoliation with granules or salon equipment like Microdermabrasion
- Chemical exfoliation with Alpha Hydroxy Acids and/or enzymes
Let’s take the time to evaluate our options in relation to the skin functioning as well as what the skin likes and dislikes.
Important to know:
- The skin is a protective organ and is mainly there to keep foreign, harmful, and irritating substances out
- If the skin is overly irritated, it evokes a protection response that is genetically preprogrammed. For oily skin, the skin will produce more oil as a protective function. In a darker toned skin, the skin will produce more pigment. For breakout prone, dry and aged skin, the skin will produce more dead skin cells
- This gives us the proof we need to choose the correct exfoliation method to prevent further aggravation of the current skin concern
- This has by far been the most favored exfoliation method due to the sensory feeling of the granules “working” on the skin, but it is also the most controversial. The concern does not necessarily lie with the fact that granules are “bad” for the skin but the way it is used.
- Due to the sensory feeling, we often think that working very firmly or harder will give us a better result. The exact opposite is true! Working more aggressively will worsen the skin concern long term.
- What is gentle application for one person is not the same as for another. That is why we, at SkinPhD, prefer to use the safest but also the most effective exfoliation methods and therefore steer clear of granules
- Microbeads have been widely used in granular exfoliators but has been banned worldwide due to the detrimental effect it has on sea life, as these microbeads do not disintegrate
- Chemical exfoliation is done by using Acids like Glycolic acid and Lactic acid that dissolve the bonds between the dead skin cells, where after the skin sheds the dead skin cells naturally. These acids have no aggressive properties in homecare-based formulations and will therefore not stimulate the protective response of the skin. They do however have multiple benefits to promote a healthy skin. This being the improvement of skin tone and colour, reducing breakouts, improving the skin texture, imparting a glowing skin and much more. Acid based exfoliators works best on oilier, breakout prone skin.
- Chemical exfoliation can also be done using Enzymes like Pineapple enzymes, Papaya enzymes and Pumpkin enzymes, which dissolves the bonds between dead skin cells (like Acids). Enzymes trigger multiple actions in the skin. The most important action is the stimulation of new cell development. This speeds up a slow cell turnover rate, with no aggression. Enzyme based exfoliators works best on drier, dehydrated, fragile and ageing skin.
- Both methods are preferable for skincare professionals as there is no way in which these methods can work too aggressively or too deep, thereby making it safe in any hands.
Frequency of use:
An Enzyme or Acid based exfoliator should be used 2-3 times per week. This will ensure the normalization of the cell turnover period and impart a glowing, even toned, young and healthy looking skin. It is however advised to follow the product manufacturers directions for use as formulations may vary.