8/10/2014 3:42 AM
How often should I exfoliate?
Exfoliating properly is one of the secrets to achieving soft, glowing skin. Exfoliating will remove dead skin cells, dry patches, and uneven discoloration. Every moment, your body is constantly producing new skin cells. As we get older, these cells become adherent and the skin layers don’t turn over so quickly. This makes the skin appear dry and sallow, losing the dewy glow associated with healthy, youthful skin. In addition, pores accumulate dirt and other debris from environmental toxins, causing breakouts. Exfoliation helps slough off dead skin cells, remove dirt, and makes pores appear smaller. Plus, that exfoliation and massaging process stimulates the deep layers of the skin to generate new, fresh skin, which will lead to a more radiant complexion.
There are basically two types of exfoliation: physical and chemical. Physical exfoliation is the mechanical process of removing surface skin using abrasive forces to allow the cells to break free. The downside to physical exfoliants is that many have edges that may cut and damage the protective barrier of the skin. As far as manual exfoliants, such as scrubs, many people overuse them or scrub too vigorously. Using a scrub with small beads is gentler than seeds, nuts, husks, or pits. Many people will overdo it by either using too harsh of a product, rubbing too vigorously, or using them too often. While exfoliating is necessary to achieve maximum skin health, it can increase inflammation and cause broken blood vessels if it isn’t done properly.
Chemical exfoliation can be achieved with fruit enzymes or acids. They are effective for separating the “cement” holding old skin cells in place on the surface of the skin. Natural enzymes may be derived from pineapple (bromelain), papaya (papain), pomegranate, and pumpkin. Acids, such as alpha hydroxy acids and beta hydroxy acids are also popular. Acids are used in professional-strength chemical peels for that monthly boost. AHAs such as glycolic acid, lactic acid, malic acid, mandelic acid, and citric acid have anti-aging benefits to help moisturize, reduce fine lines and wrinkles, and even out skin tone. BHAs such as salicylic acid are best suited for oily, inflamed, or acne-prone skin. My preference is for daily, gentle chemical exfoliation (with active ingredients) over manual exfoliation. The Clarisonic brush (and allowing the brush to do the work) is my all time favorite gentle daily manual exfoliator in conjunction with chemical exfoliator products.
In general, everyone should exfoliate. How often is determined by which products you choose and your skin type. The oilier your skin and the warmer the climate, the more you can exfoliate. Many people incorrectly believe that exfoliating may be too rough on dry skin, which is not the case. In fact, women with dry skin actually get an abnormal buildup of skin cells, preventing normal exfoliation and normal moisture retention. Exfoliating properly will actually allow dry skin to hold onto more moisture. I prefer exfoliating in the evening followed by application of a serum and moisturizer. Basically, if your skin is lackluster and feels dry, then it is time to slough off those adherent dead skin cells (only insulating the skin from actually absorbing any products or even moisturizer). Exfoliating should leave your skin feeling healthy and refreshed, not sensitive, burning, or red. This would indicate that you are over-exfoliating.
In Summary, exfoliate 3- 6 times a week using an exfoliating cleanser with either a Clarisonic brush or a wash cloth (used once only). Exfoliating lotions or serums or an in-office chemical peel for your skin type will also be beneficial to keep your complexion fresh and glowing.