Would you like to have smoother, more radiant skin? increased elasticity? And to have a strengthened skin barrier?
Over the winter months our skin can really suffer, with central heating and windy cold days, it can become dry and dull.
I always get asked how I get such smooth glowing skin, and besides the fact I drink loads of water I would say it’s because I exfoliate lots! I think of exfoliating like cleaning my house (which I love to do by the way-freak LOL). You wouldn’t go weeks without vacuuming your home or dusting would you? So exfoliating is kind of the same thing- a proper clean for your skin.
But which method do you choose? As choosing the right way and ingredients is critical to skin health. Here is why I think you should make sure exfoliating is in your skin care routine:
Exfoliation = Radiant Skin
As we age, the rate at which our skin cells turnover slows down, this means the body takes longer to shed old skin cells and generate new ones. Studies show it takes around 40-60 days for skin cells to be completely regenerated in older adults, while it takes only 28 days for younger individuals (and half that for babies!). And on top of this the production of collagen—a protein crucial to skin’s firmness and elasticity—also decreases with age, resulting in skin thinning, and less firmness and tone.
But don’t worry there is a plan to help- exfoliating! Scrubbing away dirt and dead skin cells helps to stop dullness, roughness and dryness—conditions that increase the appearance of lines, wrinkles and uneven pigmentation—and leaves you with a smooth, radiant complexion. Radiance is achieved when skin is smooth enough to reflect light, this is why I named my face scrub RADIANCE! Thankfully, exfoliation can help reverse these conditions, as it stimulates cell turnover, resulting in a more polished and smooth skin surface. So, there you go, exfoliation is a must for revealing and preserving radiance. Did you know that removing your old skin cells also helps your skincare products work better. How? Your cleansers, moisturizers and hydrating serums are able to penetrate more deeply and do their jobs more effectively when skin is freshly exfoliated. And in the case of acne-prone skin, removing cell buildup on the skin’s outermost layer helps clear clogged pores that can otherwise lead to breakouts on the face, neck, chest and back.
Different way to Exfoliate.
There are two main types of exfoliation, physical or chemical.
Physical exfoliation uses a tool—most commonly a brush or a scrub that contains abrasive particles—to physically remove dead skin cells. Microdermabrasion is another great way, this is a facial where by fine crystals are sprayed on the skin and then suctioned away, taking with them a layer of dead skin cells. Dermaplaning is more gentle than microdermabrasion, and relies on a scalpel-like device, which scrapes away the top layer of skin, along with peach-fuzz-like hair. Please make sure you visit a highly qualified therapist though as if this is performed incorrectly it can damage the skin.
Chemical exfoliation, on the other hand, uses chemicals such as alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) and beta hydroxy acids (BHAs) to dissolve the old dead skin cells on the skin’s surface, all without any scrubbing or scraping. The words “chemical” and “acids” sound daunting, but in truth, chemical exfoliation with AHAs and BHAs can be a surprisingly gentle way to exfoliate on a deeper level. In fact, research shows that regular use of glycolic and lactic acid leads to significant skin improvement and rejuvenation.
Salicylic acid is a beta-hydroxy acid (BHA), a type of acid derived from natural sources such as willow tree bark, wintergreen leaves or sweet birch bark. However, there are several salicylic acid derivatives and related ingredients that exert a similar effect on the skin. Salicylic acid is a salicylate, meaning it belongs to the same ingredient family as aspirin. People with salicylate allergies (which are rare) should avoid salicylic acid. As an acid exfoliant, salicylic acid works by softening and dissolving keratin. Keratin is the protein found in our skin that causes cells to stick together. So, the acid makes these dead skin cells much easier to slough off. Salicylic acid also exfoliates the pore lining. Because it is an oil-soluble acid, it has the ability to penetrate deep into pores instead of remaining only on the skin surface. Inside the pores, it helps to loosen clogs and allows oil to flow out more freely.
Lactic Acid: Less Irritating than Glycolic Acid
Fans of lactic acid note that it is less irritating than glycolic acid, another AHA commonly found in skincare. Less irritating, however, doesn’t mean less effective. According to researchers, glycolic and lactic acids work comparably in terms of increased skin cell renewal, as well as their ability to improve moisture content and reduce lines and wrinkles; the only thing missing in the former is the greater possibility of irritation.
The Most Important Lesson: Don’t Over Do It
As with most things in life, “everything in moderation” . Whatever form of exfoliation you choose to use—physical, chemical or both—don’t fall into the “if it’s hurting, it must be working” trap!!
Too-vigorous, frequent or harsh scrubbing, scraping or peeling can irritate the skin and in fact, dermatologists warn that overzealous exfoliation is likely to damage the protective skin barrier, which can lead to more damage. Over use of chemical peels and microdermabrasion can lead to redness, sensitivity and bring on signs of early ageing. When using manual face scrubs always look out for gentle abrasion ingredients like bamboo exfoliant (which is what I use in Radiance Face Scrub). Steel clear of harsh crushed walnut shells or salts as these can damage the skin more.
Exfoliation Do’s and Don’ts
As you work out what is best for your skin and your skin care routine, check out these tips:
- Less is more. Exfoliating 2-3 a week is sufficient with a gentle face scrub.
- If you’re going to dry brush, use soft, natural bristles. It’s easy to brush too hard, so make sure the bristles are pliable and brush lightly.
- Avoid fruit pits and nut shell in scrubs. Jagged particles can cause micro-tears in the skin, damaging the skin’s barrier. Look for scrubs with smooth, round granules (no micro-beads of course!), if you prefer a scrub.
- The more aggressive the method, the less it needs to be done. Aggressive methods aren’t our preferred way to exfoliate, but if you go for it, space treatments out to avoid harming your barrier.