We have all heard that it is important to exfoliate. But why is it so important and what exactly does exfoliating do?
What is exfoliation? Exfoliation is the technique of removing the top layer of dead skin cells from of the epidermis of your skin to encourage the live cells down in the dermis of the skin to turnover and refresh the skin’s appearance.
Why do we need to exfoliate? Skin is constantly turning over, generating new cells at the lower level (the dermis) and sending them up to replace dead skin cells on the upper layer (epidermis). As we age, the cell turnover process slows down. Cells begin to gather unevenly on the skin’s surface which can lead to dry patches and a lack-luster appearance. Through exfoliating, we can help remove the dead skin cells, revealing the fresher, younger cells below and restoring skin’s natural clarity and brightness.
Who needs to exfoliate? Everyone! Exfoliating smooths your skin and increases circulation. However, some people can tolerate more aggressive exfoliation than others. Test exfoliating on a small patch of skin on your inner arm to gauge your tolerance.
How often should I exfoliate? I recommend exfoliating your face and body 2–3 times a week. However, older skin can be thinner and more sensitive. So, make sure to monitor how your skin reacts to exfoliating and adjust accordingly. It is actually possible to over-exfoliate which can lead to moisture loss, sensitivity, dryness and irritation.
What is the best exfoliator? There are two basic approaches to exfoliation: manual and chemical exfoliation. Manual exfoliation is typically with a scrub, washcloth or brush. Chemical exfoliation using an active ingredient like an Alpha Hydroxy Acid or an enzyme to break the bonds that hold the uppermost layers of dead cells to the surface of your skin. I recommend a combination of dry brush exfoliation for your body prior to showering and chemical exfoliation for your face.
Let your natural beauty shine through with the help of some exfoliation.
Article by Howard Murad, M.D., FAAD, a world renowned skincare expert and founder of the Inclusive Health movement.