Suffering from washed-out winter skin? Regular exfoliation will get you on the fast track to a smoother, brighter winter complexion, says top skincare expert Sally Penford
Suffering from washed-out winter skin? Regular exfoliation will get you on the fast track to a smoother, brighter winter complexion,º says top skincare expert Sally Penford
Skin exfoliation improves the quality and tone of skin by assisting in the removal of dead skin cells from the surface.
The human skin produces about one million skin cells per minute, which equates to over five billion skin cells per day being shed into the atmosphere for us all to breathe in! As our skin cells renew, old surface cells harden and lose moisture, and eventually detach from the skin to allow for new cells to come through (this process is called desquamation). An exfoliant is any agent that removes dead skin cells from the skin’s surface to reveal newer, smoother skin that’s underneath. When we exfoliate, we automatically cause skin renewal because new cells are stimulated to push towards the surface to replace the newly removed dead cells.
Exfoliants can be physical or chemical, and their use is dependent upon each individual’s skin care needs. Physical exfoliants use friction to remove dead skin cells, either through the use of a tool (such as a brush or sponge) or a gentle abrasive (such as corn cob meal, rice bran, microgranules or oatmeal). Depending on the amount of friction and the nature of the abrasive used, results will vary. Unlike physical exfoliants that remove debris through gentle abrasion, chemical exfoliants smooth skin by dissolving the intercellular ‘glue’ that attaches cells to the surface. A few examples of chemical exfoliants are hydroxy acids, retinol and enzymes (proteins that initiate a chemical reaction to break the chemical bonds of older cells and ‘digest’ them).
DIFFERENT TYPES OF SKIN HAVE DIFFERENT REQUIREMENTS SO MAKE SURE YOU CHOOSE THE RIGHT ONE FOR YOU…
For oily/breakout-prone skin
Choose non-abrasive hydroxy acid exfoliants that gently dissolve dead cells while delivering purifying, oil-absorbing benefits. Salicylic acid, clays, sulphur and soothing lavender and aloe are friends to your skin. Steer clear of physical scrubs (think grains and beads) that can aggravate and further inflame breakouts. The International Dermal Institute recommends scrubs made of finely granulated corn cob meal.
For ageing, dry or lacklustre skin
Exfoliation is especially effective on prematurely-ageing and mature skin, as it stimulates cell renewal faster than the body can on its own. Look for a powerful skin polisher that combines physical and chemical exfoliants to refine skin texture and enhance penetration of age-fighting vitamins into skin. Resurfacing microgranules may gently polish off dulling skin cells to reveal smoother, fresher skin immediately. Thermal technology plus lactic acid is a great combo as it activates upon contact with water to stimulate cell turnover. Also search out liquorice and vitamins A, C and E to brighten skin tone, provide antioxidant defence against damaging free radicals and help promote skin firmness. Remember; more is not better. Once or twice a week is all that is needed to get smooth healthy skin.
This is caused by an increase in colour caused by excess melanin pigment. It can be induced by hormones, stress or most commonly excessive UV exposure.Although exfoliation will not cure the problem it greatly assists in shedding these pigmented cells more quickly, and will also help remove the dead skin cells, so ingredients to brighten can more effectively penetrate hyperpigmentation at its source. A rice-based enzyme powder that activates upon contact with water, releasing papain, salicylic acid and rice enzymes to smooth the skin and accelerate cell renewal is ideal. Rice bran, salicylic acid, green tea, grapefruit and liquorice all help to balance uneven skin pigmentation.
Dry or dehydrated skin
A lack of moisture in skin leads to gaps in the cellular barrier, leaving skin feeling tight and stretched. Many tend to over moisturise, which effectively just sticks the older skin cells down, leading to a dull, uneven skin tone. Through exfoliation, dying skin cells are effectively removed, new fresh juicy cells are brought to the surface and moisturising and hydrating ingredients can penetrate deeper into skin to help ease dry and dehydrated skin conditions. Look for a gentle lactic acid-based exfoliant that may be left on the skin for ongoing results. To combat dryness ensure that it is blended with hyaluronic acid which holds approximately five times its own weight in moisture.
If skin is sensitised, exfoliation may not be for you, as it may further compromise your skin’s natural protective barriers. It is important to always follow the direction of your skin therapist when exfoliation is a part of your at-home regime and professional skin treatments.
Try our pick of the best chemical free exfoliators to leave your skin looking peachy and radiant:
The recent emergence of much more aggressive exfoliation treatments, such as dermabrasion and chemical peels, has lead many people to over-exfoliate their skin. Research at The International Dermal Institute indicates that a series of exfoliation treatments can actually be much more effective than one very aggressive lunchtime procedure. In fact, any skin treatment – including exfoliation – that causes the skin to become red and irritated is triggering the inflammatory response, which in turn accelerates premature ageing. A more gradual approach, which includes professional-strength exfoliation treatments from your skin therapist combined with an at-home regime, will reveal a dramatically smoothed complexion without any of the undesirable side effects.
Sally Penford is the educational manager of the International Dermal Institute. For more details go to dermalinstitute.com
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