Exfoliation is the process of removing the outer layer of cells from the skin, how much depends on the type of peel. Why exfoliate? Because exfoliation has several positive results. By removing the dull, dead cells, skin automatically gains a more vibrant glow and smoothness. It also speeds up the renewal of skin cells. And by removing that dead layer of cells your skin care actives are more readily absorbed by skin and are able to do their job better. Exfoliation can help decrease acne and breakouts. improves skin texture, and decrease the appearance of pores. Overall, exfoliation reduces the fine lines and wrinkles on your skin. But we recommend mild exfoliation, as severe exfoliation can have negative effects.
There are many degrees of exfoliation and we recommend mild exfoliation. Using a washcloth to wash your face is one mild way of exfoliating.
Two main categories of exfoliants are chemical exfoliants and mechanical exfoliation.
Mechanical, or physical exfoliation uses particles or roughness to exfoliate or a brush or washcloth. Examples in our line include our Botanical Salt Scrubs for the body and our Meadow Mist milky cleanser for the face. This cleanser uses jojoba beads. You may have heard of microbeads and their negative effect on the environment. Well, jojoba beads are wax beads, not plastic and are completely natural and biodegradable. Don’t let the product get too hot though as the wax can melt.
Some people like to use salt on the face for exfoliation. If you do, be very gentle. Its better to use something smoother and rounder on the face such as jojoba beads. But if you like using a salt scrub, go ahead, just be gentle.
A natural bristle brush is a nice way to exfoliate the face. Again, make sure the brush is wet and be gentle. For your body, try dry brushing before taking a shower.
Clay is another method of mechanical exfoliation and can be used as a mask.
Don’t let the term chemical exfoliation scare you as this can also be very gentle. We recommend alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) that are readily found in fruits or beta hydroxy acids which are similar. Fruit enzyme masks are also becoming popular as a relatively gentle means of exfoliation. One fun way to use fruit enzymes is to make fresh fruit masks in the summer. Exfoliation using AHAs can increase your sensitivity to sun so its best to do this type of exfoliating treatment at night. We use fruit acids in our Starbright Mask. Salicylic acid is a good way to exfoliate oily and acne prone skin.
Exfoliation of both body and face can be 1-3 times a week.
Exfoliation, however, can cause negative side effects, the most common of which is dry, irritated and damaged skin. Over exfoliation can damage the barrier function of the skin. This barrier function is important for protecting your skin from environmental assaults, bacterial and fungal attacks and protecting it from loss of water. This skin barrier is the most important function of your skin.
Signs of damaged skin include a tight feeling, sensitivity, irritation, inflammation, redness, and drying. Inflammation can lead to premature aging – the very thing you are trying to delay by exfoliation.
Be more careful of exfoliation if your skin is thin. You might want to exfoliate more if you have clogged pores, congestion, or oily skin or your skin is very sun damaged.
After exfoliation, use a soothing, anti-inflammatory product to help your skin recover. We recommend Springtide Gold.
A deep chemical peel actually is a mild wound that causes the skin to heal. They can be superficial, medium or deep. Superficial peels stay in the epidermis, while deep peels go into the dermis, removing all of the epidermis. These types of peels are done by a medical professional and can use AHAs, beta hydroxy acids, trichloroacetic acid and phenol. The barrier function of the skin is completely removed and the patient is at risk of not only dehydration but also infection and contact dermatitis. Scarring, hyperpigmentation, hypopigmentation and lines of demarcation can also occur. Sedation is often used for deeper peels because of the pain involved. Some chemical peels can cause scarring and changes in pigmentation; either darker or lighter.
Although mild exfoliation plays an important role in holistic skin care, we feel there are very few clients who can benefit from deep peels.