Skin naturally regenerates by sloughing off dead skin cells and creating new ones. For some, this process does not occur quickly enough and dead skin cells begin to accumulate in pores. These clogged pores can result in unsightly blemishes, especially for oily and sensitive skin types.
Exfoliants work by improving cell turnover for skin that is healthy and blemish free. Exfoliation can occur either chemically or physically. Examples of chemical exfoliants are alpha-hydroxy-acids in varying concentrations, enzymes, and trichloracetic acid. Physical exfoliants are skin care products with abrasive particles that physically scrap off dead skin cells. Typically ground apricot cores or walnut shells, diametaceous earth (sand), or aluminum oxide are used as physical exfoliants
Benefits of Using an Exfoliant
Regardless of type, exfoliants have many benefits and should be used by anyone looking to improve the condition of their skin. Regular weekly use of a facial scrub does wonders for all skin types but is especially useful for oily and sensitive skin types. Facial scrubs effectively remove impurities and dead skin cells which refreshes skin and allows for better product penetration.
The removal of the last layer of skin during exfoliation increases the permeability of skin to acne and anti-aging treatments. It is a good idea to combine an exfoliating treatment with a deep moisturizer because it will penetrate further to new skin cells.
With each exfoliating session skin will become softer, brighter, and show fewer signs of aging. Long present wrinkles will begin to diminish as new, well moisturized skin emerges. As cell turnover improves with long term use of an exfoliant, important skin compounds like collagen and elastin will be stimulated.
Both collagen and elastin are highly sought after compounds because together they keep skin tight as well as pliable. Production of collagen and elastin decreases due to age so skin becomes saggy and wrinkles begin to form. To prevent these signs of aging, it is important to stimulate collagen and elastin through exfoliation and the use of high quality skin products.
Another great benefit of exfoliation is a more even skin tone. An uneven skin tone is usually caused by environmental damage and genes inherited from parents. Removing dead and damaged skin cell literally gives skin a fresh start. With proper moisturizing, new cells will be hydrated, plump, and free of damage for an overall younger look.
Available Exfoliating Treatments
Choosing an exfoliation treatment should be done with care. Many skin creams and chemical peels can cause burns or allergic reactions if not used properly because their purpose is to remove skin. Used correctly though, exfoliation treatments are safe and easy to use. Most over the counter options are either chemical peels or skin creams with fairly strong natural acids. These two products should not be confused as one is much stronger than the other.
Chemical peels are stronger than most skin creams and usually are not applied at home. An aesthetician at a spa or a cosmetic dermatologist normally administers chemical peels because of their ability to burn skin quickly. Sometimes peels can take several treatments over the course of a few weeks but are generally well worth the time and effort. Most report that chemical peels definitely reduce wrinkles and create a fresh, dewy look.
Skin creams also have the ability to exfoliate, but often have less active ingredient so that the product can be used daily or weekly. Glycolic and lactic acids are alpha hydroxy acids which are commonly used in over the counter skin creams. When used regularly, these acids will clear away dead skin cells, reduce acne, and increase skin cell turnover just like a chemical peel. However, the concentration for these kinds of creams is usually no more than 20 percent so it will take longer to see results than with a more concentrated peel.
If chemicals are a problem, try a physical exfoliation product. Many acne sufferers use a sonic powered brush and a cleanser to gently scrub away dead skin cells and impurities. Others use exfoliating sponges and gloves to manually remove dead skin. Scrubbing gently is important for physical exfoliation as facial skin is fragile; scrubbing too hard will leave scratches.
See a Dermatologist
Suffering from acne is just like any other medical issue and should be looked at if finances allow. Exfoliation may not be useful with some skin conditions and other treatments should be used. A certified dermatologist can help to identify the underlying issues behind breakouts and treat them with the right tools.