Have you got dull and rough skin? Want to put that glow back on your face? Well, you need exfoliation in your skin care arsenal ASAP.
You can load up your arsenal with ultra-hydrating toners, fancy serums with unique ingredients, and creamy moisturizers. But, without exfoliation, your infinity stones are barely complete.
In a perfect skin care world, exfoliation should happen ideally one to two times a week, depending on the skin type. Yes, it is so important that we need to really allow time for this skin care step.
Life can get so hectic that we tend to skip some steps in favor of that, oh so sweet time curled up in our beds. But exfoliating shouldn't be one of those steps!
Read on to know why this step is so important. Hopefully, this can motivate you to give exfoliation that time it deserves, and your skin the glow it is so righteously entitled to.
Why Do We Exfoliate?
The dead haunts our skin — er, dead skin cells, I mean. Our skin undergoes cell turnover at a natural rate. This turnover sheds dead skin cells, located in our epidermis, and replaces them with fresh ones. With the new cells, our skin can retain its youthful glow and smoothness.
It is generally believed turnover takes 30 days, but it is more complicated than that. And the more you age, the slower the skin cell turnover becomes. We have different types of skin cells, and those that generally shed naturally can get stuck. These dead cells that don't shed can build up and clog our pores. Not only that, but they can also make our skin look dull and feel rough.
Furthermore, this build-up of dead skin cells can result in excess oil production, which itself can leave you with clogged pores, blemishes, and acne. Not nice!
With all these, it is comforting to know that there is something we can do. This part is where exfoliation comes in. You need to exfoliate regularly and adequately to help your skin get rid of dead skin cells.
Exfoliation uncovers fresh new cells and prevents the dead cells from building up. Plus, this skin care step also opens the way for moisturizing products to sink deeply into the skin and work their magic.
In other words, a regular exfoliating routine will leave your skin looking smooth, healthy, and oh so glowy!
What Types Of Exfoliants Are There?
Before we go jumping into incorporating exfoliation into our routine, we must know what exfoliants we should use. There are two well-known types of exfoliants — physical/mechanical and chemical. We will also discuss below a lesser-known type but worth looking into — the enzyme exfoliants.
You are physically exfoliating when you use a scrub. Meaning you remove dead skin cells by sloughing them off with the help of the grainy-textured product.
From sugars, salts, and fruit seeds to coffee and rice-based enzyme powder — options for face scrubs are endless. These natural-based scrubs are a better choice compared to exfoliants using microbeads.
Facial scrubs and body scrubs available in the market conventionally tend to use these manufactured solid plastic >1mm in their largest dimension. Microbeads can cause water pollution and pose a severe threat to the environment of aquatic animals in freshwater and ocean water. So, it is best to skip products containing these.
Another point to remember in choosing a physical exfoliant is to choose scrubs with smooth, round granules rather than rough, jagged particles. Scrubs with irregularly-shaped particles can create micro-tears on our skin. These tears damage our skin by weakening our skin's ability to retain moisture, promoting flaky-and dry skin, and roughing up our skin's texture. All these are the total opposite of what we want exfoliation to provide our skin.
You can also make your own face scrub. Fruits from your pantry, like kiwis, can be used as natural scrubs. Don't know where to start? Check my 10 DIY Face Scrub Recipes! The list isn't exhaustive, but it's an excellent place to start. And hopefully, these recipes can inspire you to try and come up with your own.
You should also remember to be gentle with using scrubs—any more than a light touch can injure your skin. Furthermore, you don't want to be exfoliating too frequently. One to two times a week is enough to clean the surface and kick start the skin cell turnover.
Other physical exfoliating options are tools like face brushes, cloths, and konjac sponges. They cleanse, remove excess oil, and dead skin cells. Unlike scrubs, brushes and sponges can be used daily.
I use a konjac sponge together with my facial cleanser, as it offers deep cleansing and gentle exfoliation. It's slightly abrasive, which massages the facial skin and promotes blood flow circulation.
While facial scrubs remove dead skin cells from your skin's surface, chemical exfoliants, on the other hand, go deeper.
The way these exfoliants work is by normalizing cell turnover, which slows down as we age; and, by unsticking the cellular glue that holds our dead skin cells together, which causes build-up. Take note, though, that just because they are called "chemical" does not mean they are harmful to the skin. In fact, these acids are principally derived from plants, fruits, and nuts.
For chemical exfoliants, there are a couple types to look out for — AHAs and BHAs.
AHAs (alpha-hydroxy acids) are derived from natural substances. They are water-soluble and only able to clean the skin on the surface. They can't penetrate very deep into the pores, which makes them a good fit for dry skin types. These are also useful for addressing rough texture more effectively.
BHAs (beta hydroxy acids), on the other hand, are oil-soluble molecules. It means they can reach deeper into the skin and clean the pores thoroughly. These acids also have anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties—a more in-depth exfoliation in general. BHA-based exfoliators are recommended for folks with acne-prone and oily skin (that's me!).
Apart from the two types of exfoliants, there are the "not as well-known" but worth looking out for enzyme-based exfoliants.
The enzyme used in exfoliants is called proteolytic, a nerdy word that means "able to breakdown proteins," through the process of proteolysis. And guess what keeps this rough, dull layer of your skin stuck on your face? A protein — keratin protein, to be exact.
The most common enzymes used in enzyme exfoliants are the following;
Which Exfoliant Should You Use?
In deciding which exfoliant to use, it is best that you genuinely know your skin type. As we've discussed, different exfoliants can address different skin types. By knowing your skin through and through, you'll better decide which exfoliant will suit your needs.
To get you started, I recommend checking out 100% Pure's Acai Pulp Facial Scrub. This physical exfoliant is one I reach out for a lot of times. I find that there's no better way to wash away the grime of the week than with this scrub. True to its claim, after regularly exfoliating with this scrub, I can't help but notice a glowing, more youthful complexion every time I look in the mirror.
A plus to this exfoliant is that it is way more than just the scrubs that do wonders for the skin. The crushed organic acai berries, serving as the scrubs, are suspended in a nutrient-dense formula. With vitamins A and C, the suspension is made with pure super-fruit extracts, providing maximum antioxidant benefits and skin-brightening.
So, while you buff away the bumps and flakes of dead skin cells, the essential vitamins and fatty acids help nourish your skin for a softer and suppler feel.
To Wrap It Up
Exfoliation is definitely a must for you to have healthy and glowing skin. Now that you know the basics about this uber important skin care step, you may now slot in the final infinity stone. To truly harness its power, however, make sure to regularly exfoliate and not just try it, then skip it.
Remember to limit your exfoliation routine to once a week (twice for the folks with oily, acne-prone skin), as over-exfoliating can leave your skin dry and irritated. If not sure what exfoliant to choose for your skin type, be sure to talk to your dermatologist.
Have you ever tried any exfoliants? Share your experience in the comments below.
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