Skin exfoliation: A naturally occurring physiological process whereby dead surface skin cells, naturally slough off, and reveal new skin cells.
Sounds like something you don't have to think about...
However, although a natural process, this process can sometimes need assistance AND is almost always improved with assistance.
For example, when the skin type is oily, the skin has difficulty exfoliating or sloughing off the dead skin cells, due to the sticky nature of oil.
When the skin type is dry, dead skin accumulates quickly creating a dull appearance to the skin, in addition to, inhibiting effective natural skin exfoliation and needed moisture absorption.
Or, even aging skin will slow down in its cellular renewal process.You can resolve these issues, by regularly exfoliating your skin.
Unless you have exceptionally sensitive skin, very mature skin, or a skin disorder of some kind, you will benefit greatly from regular skin exfoliation.
The objective of exfoliating is to remove dead cells from the skin's surface which will result in skin with a fresh healthy glow. Regular exfoliation over time, will increase the skin's capacity to absorb moisture, reduce fine lines and diminish acne.
Skin exfoliation is an irritating process that actually, is beneficial to most skin types. However, it can be quite challenging to determine the fine line between good irritation as a result of exfoliation and aggravated, inflamed skin. The best route is to be fairly clear on your skin type, and then follow up with skin type recommended exfoliation from a reliable resource.
Exfoliating can be done can be done manually using a mildly abrasive product such as a silk mitt, a soft washcloth, a "scrub" or exfoliating mask. But even better, is to chemically exfoliate your skin.
Often manual skin exfoliation products are just too irritating to the skin i.e.. scrubs, loofahs, buffing creams, masks and even washcloths.
At the present time, there are some great chemical exfoliates which are more thorough, less irritating and less damaging to the skin than manual exfoliates.
In addition, chemical skin exfoliation is not part of the wet cleansing process. Chemical exfoliates are in fact, gels, lotions and creams that are used daily, after the skin has been cleansed and dried. They also need to be followed daily by an excellent sunscreen since chemical skin exfoliation will sensitize skin to the sun (skin by its nature is already very sun sensitive).
AHAs or Alpha Hydroxy Acids are fruit acids and are water-soluble.
Product formulas need to have a concentration of at least 5-8% and a
pH level of 3 or 4 to be effective. If the packaging doesn't say, look
for an ingredient listing placing it second or third, and the presence
of a balancing ingredient like sodium or potassium hydroxide.
BHA or Beta Hydroxy Acid is salicylic acid and is oil-soluble.
Product formulas need to have a concentration of at least 1-2% and a pH level of 3. Look for an ingredient listing placing it approximately in the middle, and including sodium or potassium hydroxide.
Skin exfoliation using both AHAs and BHA, act to remove the outer layer of skin cells and promote cell turnover, allowing healthier new cells to come to the surface.Where they are different is in their soluble nature and as a result, AHA tends to be applied to skin dealing with sun damage, dryness and thickness. BHA is actively used to deal with blemishes and acne. It is important to note that the product formula that these acids are used in must meet very specific criteria to be effective; concentration percentage of acid in a very specific pH of formula (noted above and supported by several reputable studies).
When choosing a product with AHA or BHA, try to do your homework because expense does not necessarily dictate effectiveness.
Here are a few product suggestions:
One company that generally produces excellent affordable AHA products is Alpha Hydrox. Their Alpha Hydrox AHA Enhanced Creme, Anti-Wrinkle Exfoliantis for all skin types, except those with very sensitive skin.
GREEN APPLE Peel Full StrengthOne of Allure Magazine Editor's Favorite, is natural and organic
Peel AHA Enzyme Treatment (12% Glycolic Acid). also enriched with
(*There is also a formulation for sensitive skin.)
BHA products originally intended to focus on problems related to breakouts, and good BHA products are fewer in number, to choose from. A highly recommended, but pricey, BHA product line is called Cellex-C Beta Plex. This extensive line has cleansers, creams like this Cellex-C Betaplex New Complexion Cream , serums, skin type specific items and more.
A combination of both AHA and BHA is in M.D. Skin Care Alpha-Beta Peel Home Facial System.
The use of tretinoin is a very effective method of skin exfoliation and is a Vitamin A derived ingredient.
*It can be found in brand names
like Renova and Retin A, but requires
Trentinoin, performs the task of skin exfoliation just as AHA and BHA, however, it works at a much greater depth. It operates at a cellular level and actually, has the capacity to modify irregular skin cell behavior. As a result their is healthy cell production, natural skin exfoliation, and a healthier appearance.
This can be tremendously beneficial to skin that is sun damaged, wrinkled, and suffering from acne. Results have demonstrated smoother skin and diminished acne since the clogged pore issue is addressed with better natural exfoliation. There is even evidence in recent studies, that trentinoin can help with collagen production (a structural element supporting the skin's cells that is has been broken down by sun damage and also slows down in production as we age.)
One product using tretinoin at .05% is by Dr. Obaji.
to General Skin Exfoliation:
When you incorporate exfoliation into a skin care system, you don't want to use it in more than one step of your twice daily routine. What you do use and how often, will be determined absolutely, by your skin's type and needs. Also, many experts would advise against AHAs or BHA in cleansers, due to application to the whole face and eye contact, plus poor results come from diluted and minimal skin impact. In order to work, BHA and AHAs have to be absorbed by the skin, so their use is suggested after cleansing (and toning if you use toner), before moisturizer/ sunscreen application.
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