How to Exfoliate your Face at Home
Do you exfoliate? If not I’m sure I can convince you to start, just keep reading.
What is exfoliation?
Exfoliation is the act of removing dead skin cells from your face or body. Exfoliation should occur after cleansing but before your moisturizer. No matter your skin type, in order to maintain healthy skin you must learn to exfoliate.
If you don’t start exfoliating now, your skin could begin to develop issues like:
- Clogged pores
- Oily skin
- Dry skin
- Excessive cell buildup (keloids for example)
- Rough skin
- Inability to retain moisture
- Lack-luster skin
- Bacterial infections
Why should I exfoliate?
The main purpose of exfoliation is to get rid dead and dry skin cells. Once you remove these cells, your skin will instantly feel smoother. Not only is smooth skin appealing, it enhances the look of your cosmetics. When skin Is dry and you attempt to apply makeup, your makeup will pick up your skin texture. Imagine painting a bumpy wall, if you skip sanding it down beforehand you’ll just end up with another bumpy wall. Applying your skincare products before cosmetics can contribute to a smoother look and feel.
Exfoliation helps you get a deep clean. Removing dead skin will clear your pores and release any impacted materials. Your skin will purge any dirt, oil, or debris much easier because your follicle openings are clean. If you have large pores, it could be from contaminants harboring in your pores for an extended period of time. Once they are removed, your pores will begin to retract to their normal size.
Each and every skin cell has a life expectancy so dead skin isn’t a bad thing. Once skin dies it should shed and allow new skin to rise to the surface of your skin, but this doesn’t always happen. If you help shed dead skin through exfoliation you have the power to speed up the rate at which your cells shed. When new skin has room to flourish, you can prevent and reduce wrinkles because your new skin will have more firmness and elasticity.
Discoloration is also diminished through exfoliation. As long as you aren’t genetically tied to a blemish, you have the power to get rid of it. The pigment that appears when you have a dark spot is only present on a few layers of your skin. If your skin cells continue to reproduce, every layer containing excess pigment will eventually shed.
There is no way your skin can be healthy without the proper hydration. Since your skin acquires hydration through absorption, it would be smart to keep your pores free of debris. Dirt, oil, bacteria and dead skin can be absorbed through the pores, making it tough for a moisturizer to penetrate. Exfoliation will unclog your pores making it much easier to stay hydrated.
There are two types of exfoliants:
Physical/Mechanical exfoliants are probably the most common method of exfoliation. This method involves manual labor partnered with a scrub. Scrubs normally contain an abrasive material like rock, dirt, sand, or microbeads to help scrub away dead skin cells. Scrubs can be performed with the skin wet or dry but exfoliation on dry skin will be harsher. Manual scrubs are great to use on the body because they can battle rough areas like the feet, knees, and elbows.
It is best to use manual scrubs in the shower because the formula can crumble and fall. Take a handful of your scrub and begin to rub your skin in circular motions. For best results, follow with a moisturizer.
Dry brushing is another form of manual exfoliation. A dry brush is normally used for shaving, but if used on dry skin it can also aid in exfoliation. Dry brushing works best on the body because the bristles are stiff. This ritual is best done before you shower; simply rub your brush in circular motions until you’ve covered everything. Showering after you dry brush will help wash the dead skin away and clear your pores.
Electronic face brushes like the infamous Clairsonic gently exfoliates but should never be compared to a full-on treatment.
Chemical exfoliants or peels are for those who like their products to do the work for them. When you apply a chemical exfoliant it dissolves dead skin along with the substance that it clings to. Chemical exfoliation is deemed most effective because the ingredients can penetrate into your skin and exfoliate at a much deeper level than a physical exfoliant.
Alpha hydroxy acids are the most used chemical exfoliant. AHAs have been used for decades to help issues like:
- Wrinkles and creases
- Rough skin
- Cell turnover
Popular AHAs include:
- Salicylic acid
- Glycolic acid
- Malic acid
- Tartaric acid
- Citric acid
- Lactic acid
Enzymes can also help breakdown skin cells. Papaya is generally the source of these enzymes but they can come from other sources like pumpkin and pineapple. Some enzyme peels come in powder form and are mixed with water while others come in a gommage that is rubbed into the skin.
Using an exfoliator in the correct manner will ensure skin doesn’t become damaged. Do not ignore these key safety tips when exfoliating:
- If you are using a manual scrub be sure not to use excessive force, too much pressure could cause scarring.
- Manual scrubs are safer when they have rounded microbeads because they don’t scrape your skin. The problem with using microbeads is that they enter our water supply and harm animals. If you live a vegan lifestyle you may not want to exfoliate with microbeads.
- AHAs May not be compatible with sensitive skin. You should perform a patch test each time you want to use a new product containing AHAs to prevent irritation.
- Exfoliate once per week, more than that could irritate your skin.
- If your manual scrub contains oil invest in a bath mat so you don’t slip.
- If you have active acne don’t exfoliate, you could spread bacteria and make things worse.
- Chemical exfoliants can tingle, this is normal.