Wednesday, October 29

Exfoliation - What, Why, How?

In a nutshell;
What? Taking away the dead skin  cells
Why? So our pores don't get clogged and our skin looks brighter
How? By scrubbing it off or chemically melting away the cells

Possibly the most important step in your skincare regimen and definitely one for the anti-acne rules and routine! A good physical exfoliation is like magic; your skin is instantly silky soft and you can't stop stroking your face. (Click here for a more detailed how-to; How to exfoliate for the best skin of your life!)

There are 2 types of exfoliation; physical exfoliation and chemical exfoliation. Physical exfoliation involves physically scrubbing away those dull, dead skin cells sitting on your face. Obviously we don't want to do this too often or we'll cause irritation! Chemical exfoliation involves literally melting the dead cells away from the skin. Dead skin cells are there because your skin hasn't been able to properly shed them, a chemical exfoliant just loosens the 'glue' holding them on.

Your skin is constantly renewing and forming new skin cells but the dead skin cells need a little help to shed - especially as we get older! Dead skin cells will mix with the oils on your face and start to clog your pores. And as we know, clogged pores mean blackheads and acne. Regular exfoliation allows healthy skin to shine through so that you look brighter and younger.  And finally, you'll find your skincare products last longer and work better! What's the point in spending all that money and time on great skincare products if you're applying them to dead skin cells?

Physical exfoliation;

Firstly remember DO NOT physically exfoliate every day - you will irritate your skin and if you have acne will only make it worse. Exfoliation is wonderful when done properly but don't make the mistake I did (my acne story) and scrub your face everyday.  2-4 times a week maximum.

Facial scrub - thick cream with grains of almond shells, oats, maybe even rice or sand - basically anything small and gritty - that you rub over your face in small circles. You can buy one or easily make your own.

Facial sponge/muslin cloth/flannel - a great little tool like this one (click!) will physically exfoliate your skin more gently and with less mess. A face flannel will also do the trick or go gentle with a muslin cloth - never use them with water alone, make sure you have some cleanser or oil on your face as lubrication or you'll irritate your skin!

Chemical exfoliation;

In the form of Glycolic acid (AHA) or Salicylic acid (BHA). Yes you can use one of these every day even alongside gentle physical exfoliation. With both acids you allow your skin to build up a tolerance - starting with a low 1% and building up to a 10%.

Both chemicals need time on your face to do their job so a facewash really isn't useful. The best Salicylic and Glycolic acid products come in the form of toners, serums or moisturisers. Personally I prefer a serum as there's no way I'll ever give up my acne busting apple cider vinegar toner!! (click!)

Chemical exfoliation is such a big topic and definitely one we'll return to. If you've been into skincare for a while and are looking at the next step to make your skin glow don't skip this one!

Chemical exfoliators, paula's choice, avene cleanance K, salicylic acid, glycolic acid
L-R: Paula's choice 5% AHA,       Avene Cleanance K glycolic cream-gel,        Paula's choice 2% BHA Liquid.

For some amazing advice from someone who truly is passionate about all things exfoliation check out Dr Neal's videos on DermTV.

As it says in the acne rules and routine (click!), exfoliation is a key step in getting rid of acne so don't neglect it! It's as simple as adding a serum in the morning and using a muslin cloth in the evening to meet your skin's exfoliating needs.

Ciao for now

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