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Exfoliation is a very important step in any skincare routine. Exfoliate your skin helps to keep the skin smooth and eliminates dead cells. Do you know other benefits of exfoliation? What is the difference between physical and chemical exfoliation? Do you know which type of exfoliation is better for your skin type? Continue reading, I am going to reveal the secrets of exfoliation.
Why do you need to exfoliate your skin
The main objective of exfoliation is to clean the skin and remove all impurities and dead cells. That is done by eliminating the outer layer of the skin.
Our body renews our cells every 28 days as part of a natural process. Dead cells can accumulate on our skin giving it a dull, non-uniform aspect and can block our pores as well. Exfoliation helps with this renewal process, which becomes slower as we get old.
Exfoliation is a very old process; people from ancient civilizations already exfoliated their skin without having knowledge of the process. It is well known that Cleopatra, the Egyptian queen, used to get a bath in milk. We know now that milk contains lactic acid, which is one of the most popular chemical exfoliators.
Women from other civilizations used to scrub their skin with powder made from grounded alabaster stone, doing what we know today as physical exfoliation.
If you are interested in how exfoliation has evolved from Ancient times, I recommend you to read this post.
Which are the main benefits of exfoliate your skin?
- Removes dead cells and impurities
- Improves cell regeneration
- Improves the absorption of cosmetics
- Reduces the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines
- Stimulates blood circulation
- Prevents blackheads and pimples
- Improves skin capacity to retain water
- Stimulates collagen and elastin production
Types of Exfoliation
Physical exfoliation makes use of particles contained in some creams, pumice stone, konjac sponge or anything that can produce some friction on your skin. Rubbing any of the mentioned products on your skin produces friction that removes dead cells and impurities from the external skin layer.
There are a lot of natural physical exfoliators that you can find in your kitchen like salt, sugar, oatmeal, ground fruit stone, etc. Some of the scrubs you find in the market contain these types of particles as an exfoliator. You can also buy synthetic scrubs made with polyethene or nylon particles. However, they are generating a lot of controversies nowadays, as they are micro-plastics that generate a lot of pollution when they go through the drain.
Another type of physical exfoliation is the peel-off mask. It is a gel which you put on your face and let sits for some time. Once is dried, it forms a film which you remove from your skin (therefore the name peel-off, you peel the mask off your skin). While doing that the film brings with it skin dead cells.
The main benefit of physical exfoliation is that you get a quick effect, your skin looks uniform and smooth instantaneously.
One of my favourite physical scrubs is St Ives Radiant Skin Pink Lemon and Mandarin Face Scrub. You can read a review in this post.
On the other hand, chemical exfoliators contain acids or enzymes on the formula to exfoliate your skin. You don’t need to rub them on your skin, you simply apply and let them do their job. That makes this type of exfoliator good for people with sensitive skin. You can find them as toner, cleanser, serum and other formats.
The advantage of the chemical exfoliators is that they act in the deeper layer of the skin and not only in the external one. For the same reason, they can produce irritation and make your skin more sensitive to sun radiation. Because of that, you should use sunscreen after using chemical exfoliators.
The most common molecules in the chemical exfoliator are hydroxy acids, alpha-hydroxy acid (AHA) and beta-hydroxy acids (BHA). Among them, the most popular and effective are glycolic acid, citric acid, lactic acid and malic acid.
Enzymatic exfoliators are another type of chemical exfoliators. They use enzymes that digest or break the linkage between the dead and live cells in the outer layer of the skin. They come as masks containing natural enzymes from fruit like papaya and grapefruit. They don’t contain particles and are milder than acid-based exfoliators.
How to exfoliate your skin
How to use will depends on the type of exfoliator and the particular product you use.
With physical exfoliation, you take a small amount of product and rub it on your face with a circular massage. You should rinse well after using.
If you are doing chemical or enzymatic exfoliation, you should carefully read instructions about how to use it. Normally you apply on the skin, leave for some time and rinse. The time you leave on your face will depend on the particular product.
Some general advice to follow if you want to exfoliate your skin are:
- Choose the right exfoliator for your skin type
- Make a patch test before using it for the first time
- Do not apply exfoliator in eyes or mouth areas
- Do not apply exfoliator over damaged skin
- Never use a body exfoliator over your face
- Always use sun protection after exfoliation
- The frequency you should exfoliate your skin depends on the product you intend to use. Read the instructions carefully for the product advice
How to exfoliate your skin if it skin is…..?
If you have normal skin you are very lucky. This skin type is neither oily nor dry. One exfoliation per week is enough for normal skin and 5 you can use any type of exfoliator.
Dry skins have few layers of dead cells and you should exfoliate twice a week with a creamy, soft and hydrating product. If you choose a physical exfoliator, check that the product has small particles.
Combination or Oily
Combination skins have an oily area (the T-zone) while the rest is dry. If you have oily or combination skin you should exfoliate it three times a week to remove the excess oil from the pores. The ideal exfoliator is a gel product with big particle sizes.
If you have sensitive skin you also need exfoliation but very mild exfoliation. You should do at least once a month with a soft product that contains emollients as a part of the formula.
Homemade Exfoliators Recipes
You can make your own natural exfoliators at home using ingredients you have in your kitchen. Follow any of these 5 recipes or make your own.
- Oatmeal Scrub. Mix 2 cups of oatmeal with hot water to get a thick mixture like porridge. Apply to your face with circular massage and rinse with warm water.
- Lemon and sugar scrub. Mis 2 tbsp of sugar with the juice of a half lemon. Apply with circular massage over the wet face. Leave for 5 minutes and rinse well.
- Olive Oil and Sugar Scrub. This recipe is for all the body, not only the face. Mix ¼ cup of sugar with 3 tbsp of olive oil. Apply over the body with a massage and rinse.
- Chocolate Body Scrub. Mix ¼ cup of grapeseed oil, ½ cup of sugar and 2 tbsp of cocoa powder. Mix well and apply over the body with a circular massage. Rinse well.
- Carrot Scrub. Mix the juice of a carrot with your moisturizing cream. Apply over the face once a week with circular massage. Carrot has exfoliating and cleansing properties.