What is Exfoliation?
Exfoliation is a key step in any skincare routine, because it helps get rid of any dead cells sitting on the top of the skin which can cause clogged pores, enhanced appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, and a general dull and lackluster appearance. There are two different kinds of exfoliants, physical and chemical, and both have their benefits for different skin types.
Why Do I Need To Exfoliate?
Our skin is one of the only organs we have that is constantly regenerating itself, about every 28 days to be exact, and as we age that number gets higher. Our skin starts to slow down in it's regeneration around our early to mid twenties, and by the time we reach our 40's and 50's it can take as long as 50 days for our skin cells to renew. This results in all of those excess cells that haven't had the chance to be shed just sitting on the surface. Exfoliation helps shed these cells giving the skin a younger, healthier appearance.
What Are the Different Types of Exfoliation?
There are two types of exfoliation; physical and chemical. Physical exfoliation involves the use of granuals or beads to slough off dead skin cells from new ones. This is the method that is traditionally used in scrubs found in most stores. This method of exfoliation is good for normal, oily, and mature skin types because it can be irritating if used too often. There are many different exfoliants on the market, each with it's own instruction on how often it should be used. A good rule of thumb is 2-3 times a week, any more than that can cause skin irritation.
Chemical exfoliation however, uses different acids to dissolve dead skin cells, instead of sloughing them off. This method can be used in the form of cleansers, serums, and moisturizers, with serums being the most potent form. Chemical exfoliants include acids such as salycillic, lactic, and glycolic. This form of exfoliation is good for dry, sensitive, and acne prone skin, because it won't irritate or spread bacteria around the face the way that physical exfoliants can. My favorite form of chemical exfoliant is a glycolic acid serum at night before my moisturizer, 3-4 times a week.
Can I Exfoliate Too Much?
Believe it or not, it is very possible to exfoliate too much. Exfoliating too much can irritate the skin, because over doing it will begin to slough off fresh skin cells. This irritation can cause uneven skin texture, redness and/or sensitivity, and an increase in breakout activity. Keeping exfoliation to 2-3 times a week, depending on your skin, is best even if you don't feel like you're doing enough.
In conclusion, the benefits of exfoliation are clearer pores, reduced fine lines and wrinkles, and brighter and more even skin. There's an exfoliant out there for everyone if you look hard enough.