When in consultation we start to cover skin exfoliation we get one of two reactions; those who think it will damage their very delicate skin and those who think been there, done that, not impressed. Whichever side of the fence that you sit on, exfoliation is a key element for a clean polished look.
The problem for most patients is understanding why but more importantly how to make this work at home as well as at the clinic.
Most patients google a cool new scrub or the next must have mechanical device and then end up with raw, irritated and inflamed skin. I therefore thought that writing a blog about this simple process and give you the benefit of some expert advice.
What is skin exfoliation?
Exfoliation is a skin regime that involves the removal of dead skin cells that build up on the outer most layer of skin. The theory is that by removing the dead skin cells your complexion becomes bright and allows your cosmeceutical to penetrate deeper which in turn will enhance their results by make them work better.
As we age cellular turnover slows down dramatically and creates a build up of dead skin cells on the top layer of the skin which in turn makes your skin look dull, increases the size of open pores and makes lines and wrinkles appear deeper. Exfoliation is therefore an essential tool for youthful looking skin.
Choosing mechanical and/or chemical exfoliation
Mechanical exfoliation literally is the use of a scrubbing sponge, flannel or a mechanical tool like the Clarisonic.
Chemical exfoliation uses acids such as glycolic to dissolve dead skin cells or salicylic acid that reduces inflammation and is antibacterial. The newest must have easy application is infused facial wipes such as the Neostrata Smooth Surface Daily Peel. This have proven a great addition to the bathroom cabinet and men love the ease of a daily wipe.
One of the questions that is key to exfoliation is how often should I exfoliate my face? For mechanical exfoliation I would generally advise once or twice a week for normal skin but for oily skin alternate days. The key is not to over scrub and make the skin sensitive or sore. By rule of thumb chemical exfoliation in the form of a wash will do exactly what it says on the tin and perform exfoliation gently without upsetting the skin and reducing the risk of ‘overdoing it’.
It is true that for most patients you do not need to undergo intense facial peels if you use good quality cosmeceutical skincare products.
Exfoliation and Acne
Most patients with acne will have it ingrained in their psyche that they should undertake mechanical exfoliation however if not carried out properly or at correct intervals you will do more harm than good. You might ask why? Usually because you will have been advised many times that this is a key element in controlling your acne.
Acne is an inflammatory process and if your skin is already inflamed, carrying out mechanical exfoliation will inflame the skin even more and you start a viscous cycle of irritation. You will also run the risk of post inflammatory pigmentation. My advice is that if your skin is inflamed do not carry out mechanical exfoliation as you will find that it just like an open wound (that you would treat gently) you will make it worse.
The key to mechanical exfoliation is not to over scrub, start gently using small circles and never ‘scrub’ heavily. Rinse with lots of clean water and then pat dry, use a vitamin C gel and apply SPF. If you are unsure of your technique use the clarisonic it is a great little device and well worth the investment.
The LED light masks although not as powerful as the clinic device are a great addition to your armory and will help to calm and heal the skin.
Get smoother, softer skin. Gentle exfoliation with crystals brings healthy new skin cells to the surface.