Let me begin this post with a quick refresh of your high school anatomy class (but without the fear of memorizing key words for an exam later). Your skin, most people can quickly recall that it is in fact, our body’s largest organ. But what else can you tell me about it? That it covers our bodies and protects us from things like germs and helps regulate our body’s temperature? Sure, it does those things too and a whole lot more. But what I want to focus on is why we should care so much about how the skin works, particularly the skin on our face, neck and décolletage. Let’s start with the basics, and I promise this is all information worth knowing! First, your skin has Three layers: epidermis, dermis, and subcutaneous layer. No exam later, remember.
Great! Now you’re an expert in what your skin has going on underneath the surface. But still, why should we care? Well for starters, we now know that your skin essentially renews itself every 28 days, like a gym membership but cheaper. So why do we need to exfoliate at all if our body is doing it already? Well, for starters our skin is affected by what we do every day. The sun, the pollution in the air, our diets, etc. On top of that, sometimes we just aren’t blessed with great skin, or our skin changes as we grow older and we want to take a few sips from the fountain of youth. The regenerating process slows down as we age and that is a great reason to use an exfoliator. There are 2 main types of exfoliants: physical and chemical. Physical is exactly what it sounds like..a scrub, a brush, dermabrasion, etc. It is also worth noting that physical exfoliants do not penetrate as deep as chemical exfoliants. Chemical exfoliants are having their moment in the sun. They have become extremely popular in recent years and the shelves of our beauty stores have been bombarded with them! It can easily become very overwhelming. So I will make some sense of this so you can make some informed buying decisions should you choose to do so. Chemical exfoliants are acids that get rid of dead skin cells, and reveal new, regenerated skin. There are a wide range of acids that can be used, and also in varying concentrations. There are ones we can buy ourselves, and stronger ones that you’d need from a dermatologist or esthetician, like a chemical peel. Regular use of chemical exfoliants can lead to smoother, more even skin tone, reduced signs of aging, and unclogged pores. Where do I sign up?! Again, remember that physical exfoliants may not be as effective as chemical exfoliants.
For my next trick, allow me to throw a bunch of acronyms at you! Since that is what product companies do but i’ll add the bonus of explaining what they actually mean. AHA’s, BHA’s, PHA’s.
Note: The lower the pH, and the higher the concentration..the more exfoliative the effects will be!
Still with me? Let’s recap. We know what the skin does, what it’s made of, and how it renews itself…and now how we can help it do that even better! Remember no matter what type of exfoliant acid you choose to use, to start slowly, once a week to see how your skin responds and then increase to 2-3 times a week. No more! And like any skincare product, you must give it time to see if it is working. If after a month or 2 you see no results, try a different acid.
Ok so now you know what the acids are but still unsure which to use for your skin type? I gotchu! Did you read my last blog post? If you didn’t, go do it now, I’ll wait. In fact, here’s the link. It’s important to know what your skin type is when looking for any skincare product or treatment.
We’re not done yet! I have a few last pieces of advice/words of caution before you head out into the world with a glowing new complexion. First, you can combine acids, like AHA and BHA, but make sure your AHA is a gentle one like lactic acid. Other than that you really shouldn’t need to be mixing and matching with your skin. Also, BE SURE TO MOISTURIZE after you exfoliate every time. I don’t care what kind or product you use, do not leave your skin barrier unprotected. Also keep in mind that since we are essentially forcing the skin cells to shed and new ones to show their lovely selves to the world that you should be wary of sun exposure after exfoliation. Use sunscreen, wear a hat, stay indoors…whatever. These products can make your skin sensitive to UV rays and if you pick up a more aggressive product, my advice would be to use it at night!
Beware the hype! Over-exfoliating the skin is a very real thing you need to be cautious to avoid. Your skin’s’ natural barrier is needed and can be damaged if you get too carried away. Irritation, dryness, breakouts and peeling are all signs you’ve gone too far and need to back off for awhile or try something less aggressive!
You are now all experts on exfoliation! Kidding. But hopefully you gained something valuable from this and I have plenty more to come on skincare. Please be sure to join my email list and send me your suggestions for blogs and other questions about all things beauty, I love answering them for you!
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