Everyone has their preferences and routines when it comes to skincare, we’d even go as far as saying rituals – as self-care is truly important in the health and integrity of our skin. All of this is, of course, based on our own specific skin types and skin needs, no two are the same. So it’d be silly to try and propose a regimen built to suit everyone. BUT there are a few things we know about the body, about skin function, and those apply to just about everyone. Number one on that list? The shedding of dead skin cells.
I know, that just sounds unpleasant. And to save you from the biology lesson we’ll skim through this really quick. Cell Renewal Factor (CRF) or cell turnover slows down as we age. This is the process in which our skin produces new skin cells that travel up from the lowest layer of the epidermis to the surface and then shed off. This turnover does some of the work for you, by not keeping those dull, dead cells on the surface. In our 20’s-40’s skin renews around every 28-42 days, as we reach our 50’s we double at 42-84 days. The older we get, the more dull our skin becomes and the less we have that natural “glow” because our skin is taking longer to renew.
“You can’t not exfoliate.”
This is why exfoliation is so important. If you don’t help your skin along the way, it will get thick with dead skin cells, causing breakouts, congestion, lack of luster and more prominent signs of aging. No, it doesn’t make you age faster, but once we develop creases, if those dead skin cells sit in said creases, they become more noticeable.
Acne prone skin? Yes, you still have to exfoliate. Seborrheic or hormonal skin conditions need to help whisking away those dead skin cells so they don’t clog the pores trying to heal. Sensitive skin? You guessed it, you also have to exfoliate. You just have to be a little more cautious about the type of products you use as not to cause further irritation.
THE BASIC TYPES
Physical: What we consider a scrub. A finely ground material (think walnut shells, mother of pearl – NOT microbeads) is used to physically remove dead skin cells. Because you can control the pressure and intensity, this method can be used more often than others.
Enzyme: (Also called “Chemical” in the conventional world, but we don’t do chemicals here.) This can be a fruit acid or naturally derived enzyme that dissolves the bond between our good skin and the dead skin cells. Once that bond is released, the skin’s surface reveals a glow and it also stimulates the growth of new cells. Dependent on the strength and type of the acid, once to twice per week is enough. Do not over do it, as it will leave skin red and irritated.
Combination: Finding an exfoliator that houses both powers is, well, a powerhouse product. And there are actually some exceptional versions on the market without harmful ingredients. By allowing that bond to dissolve and then having the physical exfoliators slough away the dead skin cells, you get more bang for your buck and more noticeable results.
Cut to the chase
Exfoliation overall enhances the cell renewal rate over time, leading to brighter skin, more even tone, removal of sun damage, less visible pores, remedy of textural irregularities, less apparent lines and wrinkles, better product absorption and even better moisture retention. While there is no consensus on how many times per week, and dependent on skin type, you should at least exfoliate once per week – every week. Of your life. You should also always use sunscreen after exfoliation, as your fresh skin needs to be protected.