How can exfoliation improve my skin?
What is exfoliation?
While worldwide awareness of exfoliation has exploded in the last decade, it’s a concept that is thousands of years old. Even Cleopatra’s exfoliation secrets are well documented!
Generally speaking, exfoliation refers to any technique that removes cells from the skin surface, not only immediately “refreshing” the skins appearance but also stimulating cell renewal. The benefits are dramatic, and, when used with professional guidance, exfoliation can treat a wide variety of skin problems – including acne, hyperpigmentation, premature aging and scarring, to name a few.
Of course, there is a huge variety in these techniques – scrubs, peels, masques, dermabrasion, and lasers! Fortunately, your skin care therapist can help you identify which will help you best achieve your goals.
What are hydroxyl acids?
Unlike physical exfoliants that remove debris through gentle abrasion, hydroxyl acid-based exfoliants smooth the skin by dissolving the intercellular “glue” that attaches the cells to the surface. Hydroxy acids are the most common form of at-home exfoliant because they are extremely effective and, when used properly, very safe.
Of course, there are several different hydroxyl acids. Glycolic Acid was he first to be used in cosmetic application, and is still widely-used despite its high incidence of skin irritation. Lactic and Salicylic Acids, which are as effective as Glycolic Acid, are now the choice of leading skin care professionals because they deliver the same level of results with considerably less irritation. Dermalogica Gentle Cream Exfoliant and Skin Renewal Booster are two great at-home exfoliants that use the combination of Lactic and Salicylic Acids.
Hydroxy acids may be combined with enzymes derived from Papaya (Papain) and Pineapple (Bromelain) to help digest dead skin cells, resulting in even smoother skin. The Phytic Acid in Rice Bran, the third key ingredient in our Daily Microfoliant,®, also effectively dissolves dead surface cells.
Who needs exfoliation?
Well, everyone exfoliates naturally, In fact, as you’re reading this, thousands of tiny skin cells are falling off your body – about a million every minute! An exfoliation regimen simply helps your body along the process, which becomes especially vital as we age. Teenagers completely regenerate their external layer of skin, on average every 14 days. By the time you’re 40, however, that rate has increased to 30-40 days. The result is dull, ashy or mottled-looking skin. An exfoliation regimen can reduce the time that dulling skin cells sit at the surface of our skin for a healthier, more vibrant complexion. Depending on your age and skin condition, your therapist might prescribe a combination of exfoliation therapies. Here are some examples:
- Acne-Prone Skin: A masque-style exfoliant, such as Dermalogica Gentle cream exfoliant, can help the skin combat extra oiliness and congestion without aggravating acne conditions.
- Dehydrated Skin: Depending on the sensitivity of your skin, you might select a masque-style or scrub-style exfoliant to help remove the dry, dead debris and reveal healthy cells, combining Skin Renewal Booster with your moisturizer is another great option.
- Prematurely-Aging Skin: Prematurely aged skin s often the result of sun exposure. Sun exposure causes a build up of surface skin cells, which results in a dull, dehydrated appearance. A physical exfoliant such as Skin Prep Scrub, plus professional MultiVitamin Power Exfoliant treatments, will help slough away dead skin cells.
- Uneven Pigmentation: Exfoliation is an important component of every hyperpigmentation treatment because it helps remove the pigmented surface cells. Dermalogica Daily Microfoliant®, when used as part of the Skin Brightening System, is the most effective choice.
Depending on the strength of your treatment, your skin may feel a little tight and sensitised for a little while when you leave the skin care centre. This is perfectly normal, and should dissipate quickly.
The most important consideration after any form of exfoliation is to protect your super-vulnerable skin against the sun. An application of UltraSensitive FaceBlock SPF25 will help protect your skin without any chance of sensitization. You will also want to cleanse with a super-gentle cleanser, such as UltrCalming Cleanser, and follow with your moisturizer to prevent dehydration. Your therapist may recommend Barrier Repair for extra protection.
Stronger isn’t always better
Many people get a little exfoliation-crazy under the mistaken notion that if a little is good, a lot has to be great! (ironically, this is why people often mistakingly opt for the more irritating Glycolic Acid – they assume that more irritation equals better results). While every skin condition is different, and reacts to exfoliation differently, you should tame down your exfoliation regimen if your skin feels chapped, irritated or is unusually red for a prolonged period of time. At this point, you’re not removing dead debris – you’re scrubbing away the protective barrier of the epidermis, which can result in permanent sensitization, premature aging and a host of other concerns.