Our skin is a complex organ. Depending on age, diet and racial heritage our skin regenerates itself around every twenty eight days. The process of skin renewal starts with the mitosis of the skin cells in the lowest levels of our skin. As the skin cells divide and start the process of moving towards the outer levels of the skin they undergo many changes. But what we are focused on with this posting is the removal of the outer layer of the skin.
The skin as we age tends to thicken. This thickening of the epidermis can cause a dull appearance or an uneven surface on the skin. The process of exfoliation helps to remove the outer layers of the skin and may also be used to kick start the skin renewal process depending on what process we use to achieve exfoliation.
The methods of exfoliation can be divided into two basic schools. The first type used is mechanical exfoliation. This process uses some form of abrasive to remove the skin cells. In a home use product it’s a scrub of some sort. This may be a micro fiber cloth, a product that contains a botanically based scrub or mineral scrub. Commonly used plant material would be ground nut shells, grain husks or seeds. The main focus here is something to scrub the skin. Keeping in mind that many over the counter scrubs tend to on the harsh side, it’s best to use something that is specifically designed to be used only on the facial skin. It wouldn’t be recommended for example to use a salt scrub designed for the body on your face. A great product that is useful for this would be ZIRH Scrub. This product balances aloe and sage to calm the skin with diatomaceous earth (silica particles) which provide the scrub action. This should be used once or twice a week with normal to oily skin, once a week if you have more sensitive skin. Available at most specialty stores or online at www.sephora.com. Also a professional microdermabrasion would be a form of mechanical exfoliation.
The second school of exfoliation is chemical methods. The use acids such as salicylic, glycolic, citric or malic are often used. Other substances like fruit enzymes, alpha hydroxy acids (AHA) or beta hydroxy acids may also be found in home use products. The principle purpose here is to loosen the bonds that hold the skin cells together and allow the surface to slough off dull skin. One of the best home use products in this vein is Botanical Kinetics™ Exfoliant fromAVEDA. This product contains a very mild salicylic acid and is gentle enough for daily use. Available at any AVEDA Salon or online at www.aveda.com. A professional chemical peel would also fall into this category of treatments. Chemical peels when done also have the added benefit of giving the cellular renewal of the skin a short term jump start.
With any form of exfoliation that we may use, keep in mind that you want to cleanse the skin first. Follow this with a toner and moisturizer for a glowing healthy skin. (see previous beauty post here)
Owen D. Edwards California Licensed Esthetician