Last week, we touched on exfoliation along with their different types and when to use which. This week’s blog is a follow-up discussion, going more in-depth on exfoliating sensitive and dry skin.
Let’s back up and explain why exfoliation is necessary.
Our skin all goes through a regeneration process, and this regeneration slows down as we age. Typically, in your youth, the skin will turn over every 28 to 30 days (up until about the age of 30 to 35). Although the skin naturally regenerates, it needs help sloughing off the skin cells that have reached the top surface. This is the reason exfoliation is recommended at least once a month, and also why most intense treatments, such as microdermabrasion or chemical peels should not be done more than once a month. If the dead skin cells are left to sit on the skin, they will block your product from being absorbed, and thus you have wasted your money.
The skin cells are designed to form a tight seal to prevent loss of moisture, thus if compromised, too much moisture can be released and sensitivity is developed. This also explains why more mature skins can sometimes need extra moisture. These cells are bound together by natural lipids and ceramides. Very much like cement holds bricks together, the lipids and barriers help create a barrier that is critical to maintain the moisture in the skin. When the mortar (or ceramides and lipids) are affected by factors such as wind, heat, harsh cleansers, etc., the function is compromised, resulting in dead skin build up, moisture loss, and sensitivity.
Regular exfoliation can fend off these issues, since exfoliation also improves circulation, allowing for better penetration of nutrients and hydration, and therefore dry skin will benefit from the correct exfoliation method. Moisturized skin and newly regenerated skin cells are obviously key to healthy, glowing skin. The methods to achieving this are:
- Masks, which generally use mineral or botanical ingredients, and can be used every two to three days, depending on the ingredients (any clay masks should be used no more than once a week, but ultimately depends on your skin type)
- Scrubs, consisting of mildly abrasive particles, should be used occasionally (preferably every three to four weeks, depending on the coarseness of the particles). Dry and sensitive skins should stay away from scrubs.
- Peels, typically a chemical product (AHA’s or BHA’s) that dissolves the glue binding the dead skin cells; also can be enzyme that is naturally derived fruit product that mimics AHA’s. Peels come in various intensities and can be performed professionally or at home, thus should be used in moderation to prevent barrier destruction (once a month)
- Brushing or loofah’s (such as Clarisonic or Mia) is the use of an electronic brush via mechanical exfoliation and generally used with your cleanser to exfoliate and cleanse as a dual action. If your skin isn’t overly sensitive or inflamed with acne, you can use this every two to three days.
Men, who shave, however are constantly exfoliating their face through the use of a razor, and therefore only need to use one of the above exfoliation methods once every three to four weeks. In addition, most men's products contain AHA's and BHA's. If you are planning to include an exfoliation method, double-check your products to make sure that you are not over exfoliating, as this can cause more bad than good for the skin, and can actually lead to breakouts or extremely dry skin.
By age 20, you have the skin you inherited;
By age 40, you have the skin you deserve; and
By age 60, you have the skin you’ve earned!
Whether you need to maintain your skin, preserve your skin, or repair your skin, it’s never too early and it’s never too late to talk to your esthetician about designing a skin care program starting right away
-From the July 1998 issue of Smart Skin Care