Guide to exfoliating: 5 Things you need to know about exfoliating your face
Why is exfoliation so important? Because our skin makes new cells all the time and simultaneously deposits the dead ones on its surface. These dead cells build up, especially without proper exfoliation, preventing the new ones from realising their full potential, causing pore blockages, breakouts, and contributing to the appearance of wrinkles, uneven skin, dulness and fine lines. Exfoliation, simply put, removes the dead skin cell buildup, helping your skin breathe, retain more moisture and produce more healthy, new cells. Regular exfoliation can help create wonderful, sooth, glowing and radiant complexion. Here are 5 things about exfoliating your face that you might find interesting.
1. Manual/phisical exfoliation
Manual or physical exfoliation is one of the three types of exfoliation and perhaps the most popular one, because anyone can do it at home. You can use brushes, loofahs, washcloths, sponges and shower gloves, or things like rice bran or ground coffee. Besides being the simplest way of exfoliation and easy to do at home, it is very effective on normal skin type. However, there’s one word of caution that dermatologists have and it has to do with abrasiveness. For certain skin types, especially redness prone and sensitive skin, the loofah is too harsh and abrasive. Also, as a general rule, experts do not recommend crushed apricot seeds or other similar substances for exfoliation, because they can irritate the skin and cause redness. So, choose your exfoliation tools wisely.
2. Chemical exfoliation
Chemical exfoliation works in a different way – it stimulates the production of new skin cells and facilitates the detachment of dead ones from the surface of the skin. Most frequently, this exfoliation technique involves one of two kinds of acid – alpha hydroxy or beta hydroxy, derived from natural sources such as sour milk, apples, grapes and sugar cane. Among the advantages of these exfoliating creams and lotions is that they are great for acne-stricken skin, where manual exfoliation can be very painful. They also work great on dry skin, which tends to get easily irritated by friction. Chemical exfoliation, however, must be followed by sunblock application, because it increases the skin’s vulnerability to solar radiation. Chemical exfoliators also contain retinol, a form of vitamin A, which the skin converts into a special acid that rejuvenates and nourishes it.
3. Enzyme exfoliation
Enzyme exfoliation is what science has come up with for sensitive skin, where neither manual, nor chemical exfoliation can’t do, because of extreme skin sensitivity. These exfoliating products are based on the enzymes contained in fruits, commonly papaya, pumpkin and pineapple, which work by decomposing the proteins in the dead skin cells, and literally disintegrating them. This is perhaps the gentlest form of exfoliation you can imagine, and it can also easily be done at home. You can just mash some pineapple and/or papaya and make a face mask, it’s that easy! The added benefits are like the ones you get from every fruit treatment: you get a full set of very important vitamins, such as A and C, which keep the skin youthful and supple, and you can also be sure that no chemicals are involved.
4. Exfoliating tools
Since manual exfoliation is one the most popular ones (but don’t forget enzymes), let’s focus on the tools you might choose to use to remove the buildup of dead skin cells from your face. A soft-bristled brush is a good choice, if your skin is not too sensitive, and so is a washcloth. You can use them with just water, or you can add your favorite exfoliating product or scrub or natural oil. Loofahs are not suitable for facial exfoliation, understandably. For the body, you can use the loofah or a special exfoliating glove. Whatever your preferred tool, this is how it’s done: massage the skin with gentle, circular motions, making sure not to press too hard. If you want to try chemical exfoliation in the comfort of your own home, you can get a set of glycolic masks – paper masks that you put on your face, let stay for a while, then remove, rinse; and, voila, your face has been exfoliated.
5. Some commonly used exfoliants
These are gently abrasive substances that are put in ready-made scrubs or can be found in every kitchen for homemade exfoliation. Fruit pits are one of these abrasives, but as we said they can be a bit too rough. Baking soda, salt and sugar can also be used as exfoliants in homemade masks, also including natural oils and honey, for example. Rice bran, as we’ve already mentioned, and oatmeal need to be mentioned too. They both make for a great, gentle exfoliant and can be used in homemade facial masks. In addition to the exfoliating effect, these natural exfoliants also nourish the skin, stimulating its moisture-retaining properties and boosting the production of new skin cells. The same, as we saw, is true of chemical exfoliants that you can also buy at the grocery store. Just mash the fruit and apply, let it stay for five or ten minutes, then rinse gently.