Exfoliation is the sloughing off of old, dead skin cells which lie on the outermost surface of the skin to reveal the newer, fresher skin cells which lie beneath. Exfoliation was originally practiced by ancient Egyptians, and was done in the middle ages with wine which contains the exfoliant tartaric acid.
Why do we need to exfoliate?
Exfoliating the skin is very good because dead skin cells tend to create a buildup on the outermost surface of the skin which often leaves the skin looking rough, dry and dull. It could also result in clogged pores, and in cases where there is excess oil production it will eventually lead to acne. Hence, exfoliation is key to the reduction of acne as it cleans and opens up the pores so they can breathe.
5 Reasons to Exfoliate
- For people who have acne prone skin or hormonal breakout, exfoliation helps to remove the created dead build up skin cells that clog your pores.
- Layers of dead skin cells physically make it difficult for new skin cells to take up whatever products you apply, as they are quite literally blocked from doing so. Exfoliating regularly ensures the benefits of regular skincare because the pores are open and the skin is more absorbent.
- Exfoliation detoxifies the skin, leaving it softer, smoother and fresher, giving that much sought-after glow.
- For people with discoloration i.e. uneven tone, exfoliation helps speed up the process of de-pigmentation.
- Exfoliation helps to improve blood circulation which has numerous benefits for well being and appearance.
Most people tend to pay more attention to the face when exfoliating, but every part of the body should be scrubbed once in a while, especially the lips, heels of the feet and the scalp.
Methods of Exfoliation
Physical/Mechanical: As the name suggests, this involves using something mildly abrasive to remove layers of dead skin like grains or loofahs. If you have dry or sensitive skin, it is advisable to stay away from this method as it could end up doing more harm than good.
Chemical: This describes using ingredients like lactic acid, malic acid and fruit enzymes to exfoliate. These items loosen the dead skin making them easy to wash or wipe off, and are more favourable towards sensitive skin types.
Of course, we would recommend natural exfoliants! These are typically made by merging ingredients like nuts, seeds, and grains. These are made into a fine grainy mix which can be used to exfoliate the skin moderately. The oils that are released naturally from these ingredients can also provide benefits for the skin which makes the skin softer and smoother.
- Oatmeal: A physical exfoliant that helps to exfoliate the skin mildly, while soothing away scabs and minor irritations. It is great as a basic routine scrub, and for sensitive skin.
- Milk: The lactic acid in milk helps to remove dead skin cells. You can add a small quantity of milk on your palm and massage it into your skin. You can also combine it with egg for dry skin and Aloe Vera for sensitive skin.
- Citrus: lemons and other citrus fruits are good chemical exfoliants. Be sure to avoid exposure to sunlight for a few days after using this method to avoid irritation due to UV sensitivity.
- Sugar: sugar is a perfect physical exfoliant which is great for the face and body, especially if you tend to shave your legs and scrub at the same time.
- Honey: honey helps to speed up the process of skin exfoliation, Squirt a nice sized dollop into clean hands and scrub face gently, washing with warm water.
- Yogurt: Yogurt contains lactic acid, which helps to even out skin tone. Apply plain yogurt to face and let sit 20 minutes, then rinse.
Just before we wrap this up..
It is important to note that there is such a thing as over-exfoliation which can lead to irritation and hyper pigmentation from scarring which will happen if you exfoliate too often or too vigorously. We generally advise that you exfoliate twice a week, applying mild pressure to areas with soft skin, and avoiding the eyes entirely. Another tip is to have a warm shower just before exfoliating to hep open up the pores and loosen the dead skin cells making it easier to get rid of them. Finally, scrubbing in a circular motion is the most efficient way to get the job done.