There is more to maintaining healthy skin than using soap and water to cleanse and rebalance. Regularly exfoliating the epidermis removes ingrained dirt, refreshes the skin by removing flakes of dry old skin and enables the absorption of beneficial skin serums and moisturisers.
What is Exfoliation?
The removal of flaky old skin from the surface of the epidermis is known as exfoliation. This form of skin cleansing is important because the dermis is continually producing new skin cells which rise to the surface to aid protection. Old skin therefore needs to be removed, and exfoliation can be done in a number of ways using a variety of products that include natural, chemical and/or mechanical means.
Exfoliation is the gentle brushing of the skin’s surface with a product that contains an abrasive ingredient. These scrubs are gently rubbed into the skin. The circular application method enables the exfoliant to brush off the tired old skin. Suitable scrubs include products made from salt or grounds or from an ingredient that contains small abrasive beads that can be easily worked over the skin. For those individuals seeking a more deeper method of exfoliation microdermabrasion and chemical skin peels are also available.
The gentle application of an exfoliant product enables the flaky old skin cells to be removed from the surface of the skin. This leaves the skin feeling fresh and more supple and also brightens the appearance. Without exfoliation the skin appears dry and rough and will also have a dull, tired-looking appearance. It is important to use a product and application method that is most suited to your skin type as overexfoliating may cause the skin to become irritated and dry.
It is safe to perform a gentle facial exfoliation regime regularly, provided you have take care in using products that are subtle for weekly use and that are formulated for your skin type. Ensuring the skin on your face has been wetted, before applying the granulated product, will ensure the delicate skin is not scratched.
Apply the exfoliant and work into the skin in small circular motions. This movement will enable the dry, flaky skin to loosen from the epidermis, so that fresh young skin can be revealed. Pay particular attention to areas like the T-Zone and around the nose, as oily, dry and dirty skin flakes tend to build up here. Remove the exfoliating product as recommended either by rinsing off with warm water or removing with a soft, moist polishing cloth.
Do not use products that have been formulated for use on the body in place of a facial exfoliant. These products may damage the delicate skin of the face because they will be coarser and more abrasive.
Exfoliating the body is just as important as renewing the skin on the face. Dry, rough skin on the body is unattractive and can create a build up, and secretion, of sebum that results in irritating rashes and spots and flaky dry peeling. As with the face it is important to select products that are suitable for your skin type and needs. An exfoliant product that is applied quickly and used in the shower will be much lighter than a body salt scrub that is applied before stepping into the bath.
If you prefer to use the cleansing products you already buy you can create the same skin brightening effects by applying the product using an exfoliating glove or mitt. The gloves, or mitts, provide a rough surface that helps remove dead skin cells from the epidermis as you wash. Applying circular movements, working from the feet towards the heart, will also help improve circulation of blood in the body.
Natural exfoliants are made by combining ingredients that are derived from fruits, nuts, grains and other types of crystallized ingredient. The fibres, seeds, natural sugars and powdered shells are pounded into a fine grainy particle that can be used as a moderately abrasive exfoliant. The natural oils that are released from these ingredients also provides benefits to the skin. Where possible it is recommended that you use a superior quality natural exfoliant to soften and polish the skin as using these will provide a two-fold benefit to the skin.
Coarse natural ingredients, like sea salt and natural sugars, can be used on the less delicate areas of skin on the body. These work particularly well in the removal of hard, dry skin patches on elbows and knees for example.
During hot, summery weather it is important to take additional care when using exfoliating products. Skin that has been exposed to the sun will be more sensitive and will require less abrasion. Cleansing the skin, applying a gentle exfoliating product and moisturising regularly will help keep skin in tiptop condition.