Last updated: 6.00pm, Wednesday 13th January 2016
As we age, the cell turnover slows down and this has a two-fold effect. Firstly, the build-up of these cells leads to dull and lacklustre skin, which means it looks older. Secondly, the young and healthy cells we need to maintain our youthful looks do not show up on time and when they do, they are blocked by the above-mentioned evil perpetrators.
If that’s not enough, the build-up of old skin cells blocks pores and can lead to breakouts.
And let’s not forget that exfoliating means that all the other skincare goodness you layer on your skin has a better chance of working its magic, as it can penetrate deeper into the epidermis.
Exfoliation can help remove the dead skin cells faster and by doing so, targets a whole load of skin concerns you may have:
• Pigmentation caused by sun damage or other means;
• Wrinkles caused by the ageing process or facial expressions;
• Scars caused by acne or injury.
Of course the degree to which exfoliation can help you with the above is subject to the type of procedure you will employ. And the options are many, so choose wisely.
How To Exfoliate?
There are at-home and professional solutions to suit every need these days. They all revolve around two main principles, each of which has their champions and naysayers.
The three general ways you can slough away redundant skin is using either a chemical procedure, or mechanical intervention.
Within that spectrum, we have chemical options of varying degrees, from simple AHA-soaked wipes for home use to deep phenol peels that require a plastic surgeon.
Physical or mechanical exfoliation is also available in DIY versions – granulated scrubs you can buff in during a shower – and professional option, such as dermabrasion.
Professional options also include an in-between solution, namely laser resurfacing. Although not technically a mechanical method of exfoliation, it does not use any chemicals either.
What You Need To Consider?
The division between the propagandists of either methods run deep. Many cosmetic brands go a long way to convince us that chemical peels at home are neither effective nor safe. Dermatologists will argue that granules found in the physical scrubs are damaging and do not deliver the kind of results that a professional chemical peel will, even of the light variety.
As far as home methods go, whatever camp you belong in, make sure you do not over-exfoliate. You need a gentle hand and attention to your skin’s response, when conducting DIY work.
There are times of the year, when increased exfoliation becomes permissible, or even encouraged. Winter, for instance, is a better time for all deep exfoliation to minimise any radiation damage to your “new” cells.
If you do acquire a DIY chemical peel, remember to do your research. Many AHA ingredients, such as Glycolic acid, only work at specific PH and concentration levels. Packaging plays a big part in the product potency, too, and this stands true for many popular formulas, such as Retinol. Do not be lured by the marketing hype and do your homework.
When it comes to professional procedures, ensure you consult a doctor with a proven track record and watch out that they have your best interests at heart. Proper skin evaluation is a must. You might not be suitable for a specific procedure because of certain skin characteristics or even allergies, so ensure the professional you pick is advising you based on your circumstances, not his personal preference.
And this wraps up our “Exfoliation 101”, which we hope has shed some light on this procedure. Happy scrubbing!