Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Exfoliation: What It Is, And Who Needs It?

Our skin is our biggest organ and has 3 layers. The surface layer that we see is called the epidermis. Underneath the epidermis is where new skin cells are formed. The new skin cells rise to the top of the skin and can take anywhere from a couple of weeks to a month to actually make it to the surface. As the new cells begin to rise to the top, the older cells near the top actually die and rise to the very top of the surface. Those dead skin cells eventually completely shed off and the new skin cells replaces them on the surface. Our skin continues to do this over and over on a regular basis, always producing new skin cell to replace the dead ones.

Exfoliation is a way to speed up the process. As we get older, the dead skin naturally begins to shed more slowly. Therefore, our skin begins to look dull because we are seeing the dead skin on the surface instead of the new. Exfoliating is a way to get the new skin to the surface more quickly, giving you better looking skin.

Exfoliating is also good for improving scaring and discoloration. It brings the new skin to the surface and gets rid of the layer with all of the scars and marks. This is a long process, however and can take quite a few months to see results, depending on the issue at hand.

Another reason to exfoliate would be if you have blemishes. Having clogged pores plays a big part in causing blemishes. Exfoliating on a regular basis is a good way to clear your pores, causing you to have less break outs.

So how do you exfoliate, you ask? There are many different ways.

You can do it mechanically with a facial scrubber, or you can use products topically. You can exfoliate your entire body, however, be sure to only use products specifically made for the face if it is your face that you are exfoliating. Products made for any other area of the body may be too harsh.

As mentioned earlier, the entire body can be exfoliated. However, we will only be focusing on the face since that it usually the area most people exfoliate.

So what are the different types of exfoliants? Well, there are many!

Creams and Serums

There are many different types of facial creams (including masks) and serums that are specifically made to help turn over new skin cells and get rid of the dead ones. One of the most common ingredients found in these products is Alpha Hydroxy. Alpha hydroxy is an acid derived from fruit and milk sugars found in certain plants. There are many types of alpha hydroxy acids. Two of the most common ones are glycolic acid and lactic acid. Some others include malic acid, citric acid and tartaric acid.

As mentioned, alpha hydroxy is an acid...and acid burns! Using the alpha hydroxy acids too often will cause skin irritation, redness and can possibly cause scarring. Therefore, it can end up doing more harm than good if used more than recommended.

Alpha hydroxy acids will make your face very sensitive to the sun, that's why it is recommended to only use them at night before going to bed. If you do happen to use an alpha hydroxy before leaving the house, be sure to use sunscreen even if it isn't sunny. If you have sensitive skin, it will affect you even more.

Facial scrub cleansers
Facial scrub cleansers have little micro beads in them which gently exfoliate the skin while cleansing it. This is probably the safest and most gentle way to exfoliate. Cleansing with a facial scrub is something that can be done on a daily basis in the morning, evening or both. The micro beads massage the skin which improves the circulation. It also helps to deep cleanse, giving you better looking skin.

Face Buffs
Facial buffers can be cleansing brushes, cleansing pads with micro beads or sponge-like cleansers that have abrasive fibers. These items can also be used on a daily basis. To use these items, you would wet your face, apply your daily cleanser, then gently rub the buffer over your entire face in a circular motion. Next you would just rinse off the cleanser, then dry your face. Buffers are used to deep cleanse the skin removing more dirt and particles which cleansers alone can not do. Using a facial buffer is a great thing to use when washing off makeup. Be sure to rub gently when using the buffer. Rubbing too hard can cause skin irritation and can cause the skin to feel raw.


Lastly, we'll touch on microdermabrasion. Microdermabrasion is when tiny, rough grains are used to buff away the surface layer of the skin. The difference between microdermabrasion and a facial buffer is the level of effectiveness. The facial buffer is just meant to gently buff away dirt and impurities, and to slowly help new skin cells to surface. It is not actually designed to remove the skin layer, it only assists in doing so. Microdermabrasion is actually designed to remove the top layer of the skin. Therefore this can be very dangerous if not done by a highly trained professional. There are many at home microdermabrasion kits, but it is not recommended for someone who is inexperienced to try this. There are however, some microdermabrasion kits that are specifically designed for amateur use. The company makes them less effective and of a lesser grade than the ones used by professional dermatologists. This is the highest level of exfoliation there is, and should not be done regularly.

Whatever type of exfoliation you choose, just remember not to over do it. Only one form of exfoliation needs to be done at a time. For example, you should not apply an alpha hydroxy after using a facial buff. Remember, getting great looking skin takes time. It is not logical to expect a miracle overnight. Therefore, just be patient and persistant, and you will see results. Also remember, healthy looking skin starts within. You will be amazed at how wonderful your skin will look when you eat the daily recommended servings of fruits and vegetables!

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