What is Exfoliating?
What is exfoliating and what does it do?
Our skin sheds its dead skin cells naturally to make room for new cells every 30 days, give or take. Exfoliating helps assist with this process and can be done in a few different ways as well as on different parts of your body. When your dead skin cells don’t shed properly, it can result in clogged pores, breakouts, or flaky, dry skin.
Exfoliating can leave your skin looking brighter and healthier. It can also improve the effectiveness of your skincare products, enhancing the benefits that your topical treatments bring to your skin. Regular exfoliation may even help increase your collagen production, resulting in firmer, more elastic skin and reduced appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.
Is exfoliating actually good for your skin?
If not done properly or done too much, exfoliating can do much more harm than good. Scrubbing too hard can damage your skin by causing dryness, irritation, painful cracking and peeling, or even broken capillaries. Damaged skin is also more prone to bacteria, making your skin more susceptible to breakouts and inflammation. Use small circular motions and avoid using hot water when rinsing off any products.
Understand your specific skin type to see which exfoliants will work best for you. Typically, if you have sensitive or dry skin, a chemical exfoliator will work better for you. If you have oily skin, you can try a more aggressive chemical exfoliator or you can use a physical exfoliator.
As a general rule of thumb, you should only be exfoliating once or twice a week.
What's the difference between physical and chemical exfoliation?
A physical exfoliant is a product that contains small particles or any sort of textured surface that works by scrubbing away dead skin and debris. Examples of physical exfoliants include brushes, loofahs, stones, or facial scrubs.
Chemical exfoliants are generally milder than physical exfoliants, so they're better for those with sensitive skin or darker skin tones that may be prone to scarring. Chemical exfoliants don't manually remove skin so there's less risk of overdoing it and leaving your skin irritated.
Specific acids like glycolic acid or citric acid work to peel away the surface of your skin so that more evenly pigmented cells can generate and take their place. Depending on the specific acid you are using, it can also help with wrinkles, enlarged pores, age spots, and scarring.
If I use physical exfoliation, should I buy a facial scrub or make my own?
Oftentimes, making your own homemade scrub can be a good option because you know exactly what you're putting on your skin. They're also relatively simple and easy to make.
There is an endless number of gentle exfoliating products that you can buy, from scrubs for your feet all the way to your lips. Before you buy them, however, it's important to research them and understand what ingredients they contain before putting the product on your skin.
When using any exfoliant, it's important to remember two things:
- Use one product at a time. It might be tempting to grab multiple facial scrubs that offer different benefits for your skin, but using multiple products at once can cause skin irritation and may cause some ingredients to cancel each other out.
- Check what the scrub is supposed to be used for. A scrub that is meant for your face should never be used on your body and vice versa. Different parts of your body tend to be more sensitive, so using a more aggressive scrub on your face could give you unwanted results, such as dryness or irritation.
What ingredients should I use in my facial scrub?
For Dry Skin:
Coffee grounds work great to help exfoliate, hydrate, and soften your skin which makes it perfect for those with dry skin. Similar to salt, coffee grounds can be harsh on the skin so do not use if you have sensitive skin.
Not only does coffee work as an exfoliator, but it has also been known to help reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, reduce inflammation, and repair skin damage.
For a moisturizing coffee scrub, try mixing 1/4 tsp. of coffee grounds with 1 tbsp. of yogurt. Gently massage into your face, and let it sit for about 5 minutes. Rinse with water.
For Oily Skin:
Honey works to prevent signs of premature aging, reduce bacterial infections, and hydrate your skin.
Oily skin can be caused by a variety of different factors. Sometimes oily skin can occur because your skin is overcompensating for the lack of moisture, resulting in excess sebum production. Honey can help by correcting the pH balance in your skin and regulating overactive sebaceous glands without over-drying your skin.
Mix together 2 tsp. of raw honey with 2 tsp. of ground almonds to form a paste. Massage gently, and rinse. If you are allergic to nuts, try substituting with sugar instead.
For Combination Skin:
Lemon juice has been known to effectively remove dead skin cells, alleviate dry skin conditions, and shrink pores, making it the perfect exfoliant for combination skin.
Lemons are also a powerful antioxidant that can help boost collagen production, prevent free radical damage, and help brighten your skin tone.
Mix together 1 tbsp. of lemon juice with 1 tbsp. of sugar to create a mildly abrasive lemon face scrub. Gently massage into your skin, let sit for 2-5 minutes, then rinse.
For Sensitive Skin:
Oatmeal is known for being gentle and non-irritating on the skin as well as having anti-inflammatory properties, making it perfect for sensitive skin.
It works great on dry, itchy skin too, helping to relieve symptoms of eczema and rashes.
Mix together 1 tbsp. of ground oats with 1 tbsp. of your preferred carrier oil (almond, jojoba, avocado, coconut, olive). Massage gently, let sit for 5 minutes, then rinse.
**Do not apply any of these ingredients to your skin if you are allergic to them, as they may cause adverse reactions.
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