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Skin Exfoliation - The Whys and Hows

Exfoliation is the process of removing dead skin cells and other unwanted debris that cling to the outer layer of the skin (epidermis). Regular exfoliation of both the face and the body is an important part of maintaining healthy skin that looks and feels great.

Why do you need to exfoliate?

As we age, the rate of skin renewal slows down. This means the body takes a longer time to shed old skin cells and generate new ones. It takes 28 days for younger individuals to completely regenerated while older adults take 40-60 days. To make matters worst, the production also decreases with age, resulting in progressively-thinning, structurally-weakened skin.

Exfoliation helps eliminate dullness, roughness and dryness—conditions that amplify the appearance of lines, wrinkles and uneven pigmentation—and leaves you with a smooth, radiant complexion.

However, please keep in mind the following before you start to exfoliate

  • There are 5 layers at the Epidermis layer (top) of the skin. Exfoliation removes the dead skin cells and debris on the surface and maybe up to the second layer of the Epidermis (depending on the type and frequency of exfoliation). The majority of skin ageing occurs in the dermis layer (middle) of the skin and healthy cells will raise up from the bottom layer to Dermis to Epidermis and die off. Exfoliation helps to prevent a build-up of dead skin cells which leads to clogging pores. 
  • The epidermis should be preserved and protected thus it is not recommended to over-exfoliate your skin. For example, not more than 3 times a week. Exfoliating interferes with skins microbiome and compromises its immune system. The microbiome is bacteria and microflora that protect us and keep the bad bacteria and environmental aggressors away from the skin, like a skin protector. When we keep removing them away, it can cause infection, inflammation, skin ageing, sensitivity and dermatitis.

Benefits of proper skin exfoliation

  • Increases blood circulation
  • Unclogs pores
  • Reduces blackheads
  • Minimizes the appearance of pores and fine lines
  • Detoxifies the skin by stimulating microcirculation
  • Controls excess oil
  • Brightens dull skin
  • Improves overall tone
  • Softens skin texture

How to exfoliate for different skin types

There are 2 types of exfoliants. Physical exfoliants are commonly called as scrubs as they contain beads made from nut shells, fruit pits or plastic. Chemical exfoliants are made of AHA or BHA that will require you to wash off after 3-5mins or apply like skincare at night.

Normal Skin

Your skin is not too dry or too oily. You can use pretty much any type of exfoliating ingredient but should tailor it to combine well with the rest of the skin regime.

Oily Skin

If your skin is oily, you can exfoliate or scrub two to three times a week to prevent any sebum build-up, which can clog the pores. If you have acne, it is recommended to use chemical exfoliant more often than a physical exfoliant. This will prevent micro-tears on the acne which may lead to inflammation.

Dry Skin

Your skin tends to be flaky. It is recommended to use chemical exfoliant over a physical exfoliant to prevent skin tearing. You should only exfoliate or scrub once a week or fortnight and apply rich moisturiser after.

Sensitive Skin

If you have sensitive skin, gentleness is key. Exfoliating too hard or too frequently irritates your skin even further. You should only exfoliate once a week or fortnight and apply hydrating moisturiser after. Low acidity chemical exfoliant is recommended eg Mandelic Acid

What is the post-exfoliation care

The skin is raw and stimulated after exfoliation. I will recommend to put on a hydrating or soothing mask to calm the skin. If you are not putting a mask, apply a hydrating serum and good moisturiser. Please avoid direct sunlight for 24hrs after exfoliation.

While it’s important to remove dead skin it’s also important not to strip away too many of your natural oils, so a good balance is essential. Should you have any question on skincare or wish to know more about your skin and receive a personalised recommendation, feel free to book a video or physical consultation with me.

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