It takes approximately 28 days for the fresh skin cells to be pushed up to the surface and fall off as dead skin. As we get older, the cell turnover slows down and dead skin cells can give us a dull complexion. The build-up of dead skin cells can result in excess oil and clogged pores, leading to blemishes and acne. Nevertheless, fresh skin cells born in the skin’s deepest layer will still eventually turn over but exfoliation can help to speed up the process by getting rid of the dead top layers of skin, so to allow skin care products like moisturizers to better penetrate the skin.
Facial scrubs should become an important part of your facial care routine and to make this happen is via physical exfoliation.
There are 2 types of exfoliating products available today: abrasive and nonabrasive.
Abrasive exfoliating products remove dead skin cells by physical friction, using grain and beads (both synthetic or natural particles). Unfortunately, many commercial scrubs contain polyethylene microbeads, which are tiny plastics that are great for exfoliation but bad for the environment. Alternative ingredients that work are the natural exfoliating ingredients like brown sugar and even baking powder. These are the ingredients found in the average kitchen that you can’t go wrong with.
Nonabrasive exfoliating products use alpha and beta hydroxy acids to dissolve the top layer of dead skin cells. Alpha-hydroxy acids (or AHAs) works to brighten skin by removing dead skin cells. AHAs are glycolic or lactic acids derived from natural products including milk, sugarcane, and tomatoes. They work as a mild exfoliant, breaking down dead skin cells and helping create new cell turnover. Use these often and you’re left with smoother skin, a clearer complexion, and fewer blackheads. AHAs are also great for treating acne. Beta-hydroxy acids (or BHAs) are very closely related to AHAs. Another term for BHAs is “salicylic acid” and usually come in the forms of creams. Both AHAs and BHAs are great for anti-aging and for treating acne. Use AHAs or BHAs often and you are left with smoother skin, a clearer complexion, and fewer blackheads. Though some of these peels and creams can be used daily in the form of a moisturizer or topical cream, however, it is best to limit your exfoliation routine once a week to avoid over-exfoliating your skin.
Both nonabrasive and abrasive scrubs work on the same principle. You may use a scrub as part of your daily double-cleansing routine as the second step after you have removed the makeup with your first wash.
Exfoliating Tips For Your Face
- You don’t need to exfoliate daily, limit your exfoliation routine to once a week as over-exfoliating can leave your skin dry, irritated, and damaged.
- Best time to apply scrub is when you have just stepped out of the shower or are taking a warm bath.
- Apply the scrub with small onward and outward movements. Roll and press on your skin, rather than rub the scrub into it. Avoid the delicate eye area. You may leave the scrub to double its efforts and work as a mask before you rinse off with lukewarm water, never hot water.
- Consider natural products for exfoliating your face. A baking soda paste made with baking soda and distilled water will gently cleanse your pores and skin (you will be surprised how good this works!)
- Ideally, after exfoliating with a facial scrub, you can follow up with a clay mask that will deep-clean pores you have already opened with a scrub.
There are other exfoliating tools available on the market.
Washcloths are natural exfoliators because the fabric rids face of excess oils, dirt, and build-up. Plus it is budget-friendly. Simply apply cleanser and wet a washcloth, gently massage the cleanser into skin in circular motion. Once you are done, rinse off with water. Combine the use of washcloth with a store-bought scrub or homemade facial scrubs (see homemade facial scrub recipes) to get a truly good clean, super soft skin. For extra exfoliating benefits, sprinkle a pinch of sugar into your cleanser before massaging into skin. Use a warm, damp washcloth to remove the cleanser.
Do not re-use a washcloth too many times without washing, you can keep a few washcloths on hand for between uses. It is important to keep the washcloth clean. Always wring out the excess water and hang to dry.
This “pillow-soft” cleansing sponge works by absorbing impurities from your skin while the charcoal cleanses and exfoliates the skin, making your skin soft and bright. It is used by rubbing it over the face, neck, and even under the eyes to remove makeup and dirt. It is reported to be great for combination to oily skin, even sensitive skin. Most importantly, it contains no parabens, sulfates or phthalates. It’s also fragrance-free, gluten- and ethanol alcohol-free. The con of this sponge is it tears after a few weeks of usage and probably won’t last more than 3 months.
Proper exfoliation removes the barrier of dead skin cells clogging the skin and uncovers fresh new cells below. This opens the way for moisturizing products to penetrate more deeply into the skin, which makes them more effective. In short, a regular exfoliating routine will leave your skin looking fresh and healthy.