- Body & Beauty
- Health & Healing
- Mind & Emotions
- Everyday Wellbeing
Regular exfoliation allows your skin to create new cells, thus making it look younger and softer
Everyone cherishes to look youthful and have radiant skin. Exfoliation lends you a helping hand in fulfilling this wish. By exfoliation, the outer dead skin cells are removed or exfoliated to make way for new skin cells. This helps maintain the skin texture. It also eases penetration of skin care products. When done correctly, exfoliation leaves the skin on the face and body smoother and fresher.
Our skin is constantly forming and undergoing changes. Basal skin cells are the germinative cells of the epidermis and the basal cell layer is a rapidly dividing layer. Skin cells formed in this deep layer migrate outwards to the skin surface and get keratinised or cornified. These keratinised skin cells are essential because they give our skin its protective quality. But they are constantly sloughing off to make way for younger cells. As a person ages, especially after menopause in women, this process of skin recycling becomes irregular and the cell turnover slows down. Cells start to pile up unevenly on the skin’s surface making the skin uneven, dry, rough, and dull.
Our face is most sensitive to exfoliation. The shedding of the outer layer unclogs pores, keeps skin clean, and helps reduce acne breakouts. Exfoliation should always be done after cleansing the skin. Over-exfoliation causes drying and irritation of the skin and may further lead to wrinkle development.
Exfoliation is achieved through either mechanical or chemical means.
Mechanical exfoliation involves physically scrubbing with an abrasive. This can be achieved by using over-the-counter facial masks, scrubs or by microdermabrasion.
If done repeatedly, it improves hyperpigmentation and sun damaged skin and gives an even texture to the skin. Microdermabrasion can be repeated once in 10 days, depending on the skin type and sensitivity.
Microdermabrasion can be performed by two ways—crystal microdermabrasion and diamond microdermabrasion.
In crystal microdermabrasion, inert crystals of aluminium oxide are made to impinge directly on to the skin surface under vacuum.
In diamond microdermabrasion, a diamond-tipped head is rubbed against the skin, which abrades it, thereby causing exfoliation.
Cleopatra bathed in sour milk to beautify her skin, unknowingly using lactic acid, which is alpha hydroxy acid. French women of court scrapped old wine barrels and used old wine that is tartaric acid for the same.
Most commonly used alpha and beta hydroxy acids for exfoliation are glycolic acid, lactic acid, citric acid, mandelic acids, tartaric acid and salicylic acid.
Glycolic acid is the most commonly used chemoexfoliant, which acts on the epidermis [superficial layer] and dermis [deeper layer]. On the epidermis, it has an effect on the keratinisation and removes the dead skin cells thus fading the uneven pigmentation. In the dermis, it acts by increasing the production of collagen and increases skin thickness. The skin thereby looks more youthful, rejuvenated and healthier. Chemical peels can be repeated every 15 days.
As facial skin is more sensitive, avoid over-exfoliation. Over-exfoliation of facial, sensitive and ageing skin makes the skin irritable and more susceptible to damage by ultraviolet light, thereby accelerating premature ageing.
Thus, it is important to understand the signs of over-exfoliation. The skin may appear taut and red and may cause flaking, dryness and itching. Increased sensitivity and burning may also be felt after using cleansing agents and cosmetics.
If you’re showing the signs of over-exfoliation, it is best to consult your dermatologist. After the skin recovers, use a gentle exfoliant designed for daily use.
Skin is a show case of your personality and having a good skin care routine skin is very important. Timely and regular exfoliation done with proper technique and expertise will go a long way in keeping your skin glowing and youthful. The duration and modality of exfoliation varies from individual to individual based on the skin type. It is necessary to remember that too much or too little care or treatment can defeat the purpose and would not be beneficial to your skin in the long run.
This was first published in the February 2010 issue of Complete Wellbeing