The Importance of Exfoliation
01 Jun, 2018
Spring looks to have finally arrived. When I think of spring as most people do, I think of renewal. Flowers, leaves on the trees, and lately with all the rain, mowing the lawn twice a week! Finally we get to shed the winter coats, gloves and hats. It feels good to lighten up and enjoy the warmer temperatures.
Renewing your wellness routine is also part of spring. Long walks outside in the fresh air are so much better than on a treadmill! Skincare, haircare and body treatments must also be changed to look and feel your best. Exfoliation is the key to bring out the best in your skin. The winter cold has probably left you with dull dry patches on your body and face. Exfoliating treatments can assist in bringing out glowing soft skin that you don’t want to hide under layers of clothes.
What is Exfoliation?
Exfoliation is the process of removing the top layer of dead skin cells. Our bodies naturally shed some of these dead cells by itself, but as we age, this process slows down significantly. In our teens and early 20’s, it can be as short as 15 days, and as we grow older it can take up to a few months. Desquamation (speeding up the cycle) is vital to keeping skin young and healthy.
Using moisturizer, no matter how good, on dead skin cells is ineffective. In order to properly moisturize, a moisturizer needs to be applied to live cells. Often, people with dry skin tend to gravitate towards heavier moisturizers, not realizing that the dryness they feel is the layer of dead skin. This layer of dead skin cells prevents their moisturizer from absorbing.
Physical vs. Chemical Exfoliation
There are two ways to exfoliate your skin: chemical, physical, or a combination of both. Physical exfoliation refers to manual scrubbing. It is created by some form of grit in the product, whether sugar, salt, micro beads, sand, or pumice. Believe it or not, stronger exfoliation occurs with smaller particles. Microdermabrasion, where tiny crystals are applied and removed with suction, is another form of physical exfoliation. Using a facial brush or loofah is also a form of physical exfoliation. Physical exfoliation is best for flakiness and dullness on healthy skin. You should not use physical exfoliation on sensitive skin, rosacea, inflamed acne or eczema.
Chemical exfoliation is when a chemical, normally an acid, is used to dissolve dead skin cells. It is typically more effective than physical exfoliation, since dead skin cells can be both on the surface of the skin and the lining of the pore wall, where grit is too large to reach.
AHAs and BHAs are the most popular chemical exfoliants. An AHA is short for “Alpha Hydroxy Acid.” An easy way to understand how an AHA works on your skin is to visualize “glue sticking your dead skin cells together”. An AHA works by loosening up this glue and letting the cells fall away easier. This will assist in revealing brighter, healthier, and smoother skin beneath. It is most commonly found in the following three forms: glycolic, lactic, and mandelic.
Glycolic is the most common of all the AHAs; this acid has the smallest molecular structure, which allows it to be the most powerful on the skin. But, it can be irritating to sensitive skin types. Derived from sugar cane, glycolic acid not only aids in removing the outer layer of dead skin cells. It can with continuous use accelerate skin healing.
Lactic is the second most common of all the AHAs. Lactic acid is derived from milk and works well on more delicate skin types. It has great humectant properties and can also aid in fading and evening out skin tone.
Mandelic is the least common but it is becoming very popular for acne-prone skin. It is derived from bitter almonds and has a large molecular structure, which means that it takes longer to work on the skin and it can be less irritating.
The most common BHA Acids used in skincare is salicylic acid. Salicylic acid belongs to a class of medications known as keratolytic agents, and is derived from sources like the bark of the white willow. It has anti-inflammatory properties that both heal and soothe the skin making it a great choice for skin conditions like acne, psoriasis, seborrheic dermatitis, eczema, viral warts, dandruff and ringworm.
It should be noted that while the use of AHA and BHA acids can be very beneficial to the skin, use of these products can make you more sensitive to sun exposure and sun burns. Sunscreen should always be the number one step in any skin care routine!
Adding different types of exfoliation into your skincare routine is essential for maintaining healthy, beautiful skin. While there are many choices as you can see, our skin care professionals are here to assist you in choosing the right type for your particular skin type and desired results. Complimentary skin analysis is always available here at Evensong Spa. To view a full list of skin care treatments, visit our website.
In health and happiness,
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