When it comes to skin care, exfoliation is essential. The skin is our biggest organ. It works for us day and night. It also protects our body from the outside world.
Always changing and regenerating, our skin regulates a lot of bodily functions. Think of your skin as a giant communication system. It knows what is good and bad for you. And will let you know.
Like your own knight in a shining armor, it still needs attention and care. Part of that process is skin exfoliation. Although a very simple task, it is often overlooked.
Why? Because we may not always see its benefits. Or may not always be willing to dedicate the proper time. It is a mistake.
Exfoliating your skin makes it look good and has a lot of benefits. At Infinity Laser Spa, we love to help you unleash the power of your skincare routine. Exfoliating is important for all skin types. Oily, combined or dry, all skin types need it.
What actually is it though? How do you do it right? And what are the benefits?
What is skin exfoliation?
The skin goes through a lot on a daily basis. It is like your very own armor. Meant to protect you against exterior aggressors, it needs time to heal, repair and recover.
Skin regeneration is part of the process. The skin will naturally shed dead skin cells. Only then will new cells be able to grow. This happens every thirty days or so.
However, sometimes, dead cells don't shed completely. This can result in dry, flaky patches and clogged pores. For oily skin and acne prone skin, clogged pore can very quickly develop into pimples and black heads. On other parts of the body such as the legs or bikini, it can develop into ingrown hair.
The best way to prevent this is exfoliating your skin. What is it though? It is the process of removing dead skin from the surface of your skin. You can use a chemical exfoliant or a physical exfoliant such as a granular substance or exfoliation tool.
If you think about it, an average of 30,000 to 40,000 skin cells fall off your body every hour. You loose almost a million cells over a 24-hour period. Imagine if some of those skin cells do not shed properly? That is why you need to exfoliate your face and other part of your body.
How to exfoliate your skin?
Chemical or mechanical exfoliation, there are several ways to do it. None is better than the other. It is completely up to you. There is no one solution fits all.
Just know that the one thing is common is glowing skin at the end of it.
Keep in mind that you should always be gentle with your skin. Being too harsh can lead to dry skin and micro-tears. Your morning shower is the best-time to do it as the process works best on damp skin.
Regardless of the method you choose, circular motions are the way to go. Dedicate 20 to 30 seconds to each area and rinse off with warm water. Once you are done and dry, apply a nourishing moisturizer to help keep your skin hydrated and glowing.
As important as this skin care step is, you should not over do it. Twice a week is a good number. It will help remove dry skin without disrupting your skin's production of natural oils. Should you spot wounds, cuts or sunburns, wait that the skin heals.
There are two ways to exfoliate your skin: physical and chemical.
1. Physical exfoliation
A physical exfoliant is any method or product that requires a manual scrubbing or rubbing. Most of them take the form of cleansing scrubs, body brushes or loofahs.
Physical exfoliants have two advantages.
First of all, they are very accessible as you can do it at home. A muslin washcloth or a DIY scrub will do the trick. And offers very quick results. Second, the method is very affordable.
However, like any skincare method, it can have side-effects. When done incorrectly, it can irritate your skin, which can result in transepidermal water loss. It is rare but it can happen. If it does, follow up with a humectant oil or serum to lock in moisture.
2. Chemical exfoliation
A chemical exfoliant on the other hand, uses different chemicals with enzymes to renew your skin. Most of the time, that includes hydroxy acids and retinol.
They will enhance your skin's appearance and usually offer dramatic results. Very often, they are available over the counter.
The most popular Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHAs) used in chemical exfoliants are include lactic, citric and glycolic acids. On the other hands, Beta Hydroxy Acids (BHAs) includes salicylic acids.
The chemical exfoliant you choose will depend on your skin type:
- Sensitive: BHAs, as they are less irritating than other products.
- Normal: Any will work, it comes down to personal preferences.
- Dry: AHAs, as they are more efficient at breaking through the upper layer of the skin.
- Oily: Physical exfoliant such as scrubs are the better option.
- Combination: Each focus area will require a different exfoliant.
- Acne prone: Any product containing retinoids, salicylic acid, or glycolic acid.
Chemical exfoliation can have side effects if done wrong. If you do not know how to use exfoliants as part of your routine, ask a dermatologist.
Benefits of exfoliating your skin
Regardless of your skin type, skin exfoliation holds a lot of benefits.
1. It makes the skin smoother
When dead skin cells stay on the surface of your skin, they make it rough to the touch. Especially if you have wrinkles that make your skin fold and crease. Exfoliating will help smooth everything out and make the wrinkles look smaller.
2. It makes the skin brighter
Another consequence of dead skin accumulating on your skin? A fading natural glow. Dull and lackluster skin can be fixed with frequent exfoliation.
3. It lightens dark spots
If you think about it, the skin cells on the surface are your oldest. They likely are very sun damaged. Thus, they create darker spots on your face. Removing those dead cells will help lighten those dark spots.
4. It removes pimples, blackheads and whiteheads
Skin cells that clog pores often develop into pimples, blackheads and whiteheads. What you need is to clean your pores. Exfoliating your skin will help remove any dirt from your pores.
5. It prevents breakouts
Breakouts often happen when the skin produces too much oil or when pores are clogged. The best way to prevent breakouts is to make sure your pores are always clean. Exfoliating your skin serves as a preventive measure that ensure dirt cannot accumulate in your pores.
6. It shrinks pores
There is not much you can do about the size of your pores. Indeed, it is something that is genetically determined. However, you can make sure they do not look larger. Dirt will stretch pores out. Exfoliating will help keep them smaller.
7. It speeds up cellular turnover
The skin renews itself every month or so. As the skin gets older, it needs a bit of help. Exfoliation removes old and damage cells, which leaves room for new cells to replace them faster.
8. It boosts your skincare routine
A thick wall of dead skin cells will not let your skincare products go deep enough in the dermis to do their job. Exfoliating will remove this barrier and help make your routine more efficient.
9. It makes makeup go on evenly
Exfoliation removes dead skin cells and evens out your skin tones. Smoother skin absorbs foundation better and more evenly.
10. It gives you an even tan
When comes summer, your face is exposed to the sun constantly. Did you know however that dead cells pilling up makes you tan unevenly? Some parts of your skin will be darker than others. Exfoliating removes dead cells and solves the problem.
Exfoliation and hair removal
When it comes to exfoliating your skin, most people think about their face. However, it is an important process on all parts of your body. Especially if you remove unwanted body hair. Not only does it removes old skin cells but it also ensure growing hair does not stay stuck under the skin.
Shaving and waxing have one big side effect in common: ingrown hair. Shaving cuts the hair in the direction opposite to growth. Growing back sideway, the hair may not be able to pierce the skin, resulting in an ingrown hair.
Waxing removes both the hair and the root. This results in a thinner and weaker hair. It may curl up under the skin unable to get through. Or it may just be too weak to pierce the skin.
As ingrown hair can develop into sore pimples and infection, it is important to treat them. Skin exfoliation will help remove dead skins and break the thin layer of the skin so that body hair can grow.
While laser hair removal is a great alternative to both shaving and waxing for a number of reasons, patients may still experience ingrown hair at the beginning of their treatment. Why? Because patients need to come in clean-shaven.
One sessions treats 20% of unwanted body hair. Thus, until you have gone through all your laser sessions, you will need to shave before each. Thus, when untreated hair grows back, it may stay under the skin. Exfoliating will ensure it does not and is out and ready to be treated during your next session.
The importance of exfoliating your skin makes no doubt for a lot of reasons. Whether on your face or other parts of your body, it can really boost your skincare routine and help your skin renew faster. It also helps to prevent ingrown hair, pimple and other unpleasant skin surprises.