Updated: 9/7/14: Physical or chemical exfoliation? Learn the difference and why exfoliation is so necessary for the health of the all skin types.
What Is Skin Exfoliation? Exfoliation is defined as the removal of surface dry skin cells.
How Do I Know If I Need To Exfoliate? A simple test you can do at home to see if you have surface dry skin cells on your skin is to take a piece of clear tape and apply it to the forehead. Rub it gently and remove. Look at the tape, and if there are little pieces of flaky skin, then you need to exfoliate!
Why Is Exfoliation So Important? Exfoliation is considered one of the most important techniques that you can perform on your skin to resolve certain skin problems as well as to achieve healthy and glowing skin. As a celebrity esthetician with 25+ years of working with clients, I have seen exfoliation transform the skin.
What Skin Care Problems Does Exfoliation Help to Improve?
FOR BLEMISHED SKIN. Exfoliation should be the main focus of a home care program. So often, we are told to dry out the skin with harsh acne products. Although this will destroy acne-causing bacteria, it tends to dry out the skin, and this usually results in not only irritated skin but also in future breakouts. Why? Because as you over-dry the skin, you create surface dry skin cell buildup. This then acts as a barrier to trap oil in the skin, thereby starting a cycle of new breakouts. One of the best products to reduce bacteria on the skin while exfoliating and cleaning clogged pores is BHA Clarifying Serum. For teens and adult acne, this product works incredibly well to give a newly refined smoothness and clarity.
FOR POST-BREAKOUT RED/DARK MARKS. Often, the real concern is not so much the actual blemishes, but rather the red, dark marks that remain on the skin long after the breakout has healed. The key to fading those post-breakout marks is to increase your exfoliation. The more you remove the surface damaged cells, the more you are ridding the skin of the dark marks and encouraging the formation of new healthy (non-scarred) skin cells. The result is more even-toned skin with less scarring. I highly recommend Post-Breakout Fading Gel to fade stubborn acne scars.
FOR CLOGGED PORES. Clogged pores aren’t infected blemishes, but rather blackheads, small whiteheads, and little clogged bumps on the skin, often on the forehead. The same rules apply as with blemished skins. The more you remove surface dry skin cells (usually caused by using harsh, drying products), the less oil will stay trapped and congested in the pores. Wash with AHA/BHA Cleansing Gel (named “Best Cleanser for Oily/Acne Prone Skin” by Allure Magazine) to reduce breakouts and clear clogged pores.
FOR HYPERPIGMENTATION. These are the brown spots that come from age, pregnancy, hormonal changes, and genetics. These spots tend to become more apparent and darker as the skin ages. Exfoliation is beneficial for breaking up the pigmented cells to allow them to fade. Combined with a skin lightening agent, such as Vitamin C (found in our Vitamin C & E Treatment) or Hydroquinone (available OTC or by prescription), exfoliation will help accelerate the fading process.
FOR DRY SKIN. Especially in the winter, exfoliation is very important. So often when the skin is dry, we tend to load up on heavier creams to compensate for the dryness. But dry skin means you have dry skin cell buildup. And the more you layer on the heavier creams, the more you are trying to re-hydrate dry skin cells, which makes no sense! Instead, increase your exfoliation to remove the dry skin cells, and then moisturize the new skin cells, resulting in a moister skin.
Use Renée Rouleau Glow Enhancing Cream to brighten up dull and tired skin and repair the moisture barrier of the skin.
FOR THOSE WHO DESIRE SMOOTHER SKIN. One way to instantly smooth the skin is to exfoliate! When you rid the skin of the surface dry skin cells, you create a smoother appearance.
FOR THOSE CONCERNED ABOUT WRINKLES. The skin’s natural exfoliation process slows as the skin ages, resulting in an accumulation of dry skin cells. As you increase your exfoliation, you are tricking the skin into acting young again. A special type of exfoliant that works particularly well within the deeper layers of the skin skin to jump start tired, aging cells is the ingredient retinoic acid or retinol. It repairs the lower layers where collagen and elastin reside and with continued use, skin will look smoother and younger each day. Advanced Resurfacing Serum is a great formula for sensitive skin and does not require a prescription.
How Often Should I Exfoliate? There are two types of exfoliants. First, a “chemical” or “acid” exfoliant does the work for you. You apply it, leave it on the skin, and it works to dissolve the dry skin cells. These exfoliants include ingredients such as Glycolic Acid, AHAs and BHA, and enzymes such as Pumpkin, Papaya, and Pineapple. Try Renée Rouleau AHA Serum 10%, 17%, or 20%, and Triple Berry Smoothing Peel. Second, a “physical” exfoliant means that you have to do the work. These exfoliants include facial brushes, sponges, and facial scrubs. Try Renée Rouleau Mint Buffing Beads. A combination of both physical and chemical exfoliants will give your skin the best results.
For most skin types, this would be a mild alcohol-free glycolic acid serum or AHAs (Alpha Hydroxy Acids) used under a night cream for three nights on, three nights off. This way, you’re still getting an intensive exfoliation, but you also give your skin a break. You would then combine this with a very mild facial scrub twice a week to lift off and remove the dissolved skin cells.
To find out which exfoliants are best for your skin, choose your skin type and get the best exfoliating products recommended.
How Does A Person Know If They Are Getting Too Much Exfoliation? If you use a facial scrub and your skin turns bright red and feels irritated afterwards, it probably means that the grains used in the scrub are too large. I suggest avoiding natural scrubs, such as those with apricot pits or walnut husks. These grains have sharp edges that can lacerate the skin. Look for micro-beadlets, as they will roll across the skin and not cause irritation. Of course, the Renée Rouleau facial scrubs use only the gentlest form of beads, so as not to be irritating. If you are using chemical exfoliants and your skin starts to dry out, you may be removing too much of the skin’s protective barrier, allowing much-needed moisture to escape. Cut back and the skin’s barrier should naturally repair itself.
Which Professional Exfoliating Treatments Are Beneficial? Many skin care spas, including Renée Rouleau in Dallas, Texas offer Bio Brasion (the next generation of microdermabrasion), ultrasonic exfoliation, chemical peels, and enzyme peels to give your skin a more intensive exfoliation than you can do at home.
The Bottom Line. The goal with your skin is to exfoliate as much as possible, with minimal irritation. The skin likes little boosts but not on an everyday basis.
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