The Daily Grace
The Skinny on Exfoliation
I had acne during my teens and monthly breakouts in my 20's. Back then, to combat oiliness and breakouts, I mixed oatmeal and water into a paste (sometimes adding a few coffee grinds). YEP, Quaker Oats, and massaged it on my face to help reduce the oiliness. Then I'd remove it with a wet washcloth and warm water. Afterward, my skin always felt so soft and refreshed.
Eventually, in my 30's I found my way to relatively healthy skin. Enter the 40's, and suddenly, my skin felt dry, rough, and uneven. I started moisturizing and masking, but nothing seemed to help. Until one day, I remembered the oatmeal scrub!
EXFOLIATORS, better known as SCRUBS, emerged onto the scene. Designed to do what good old-fashioned oatmeal, coffee grinds, and water did back in the day, REMOVE dead skin cells to reveal fresher-looking skin!
Stay with me and I’ll walk through the What, Why, Who, When, Where, and Hows.
WHAT is Exfoliating?
Simply put, "Exfoliating is the process of removing dead skin cells from the surface of your skin using a chemical, granular substance, or exfoliation tool." (healthline.com)
WHY do we need it?
In my last blog, we talked about how dry skin doesn't retain moisture. Exfoliation helps remove these dead cells so that newer healthy cells can hold water and thrive. Making it easier for lotions and creams to penetrate. As a bonus, if you're concerned with premature aging, it helps to reduce wrinkles, hyperpigmentation, and blemishes.
And finally, we're spending more time outside in public spaces. Your skin is being exposed to more pollutants, and even if you don't wear much makeup, you should be wearing sunscreen. By the end of the week, between the contaminants in the air and wearing a mask, using moisturizer, sunscreen, and cosmetics, our skin is filthy with dead cells. You need to exfoliate to slough off the build-up and prevent breakouts.
WHO should exfoliate?
Almost everyone should do it. Whether your skin is dry, oily, or somewhere in between, exfoliation is the key to keep skin soft and glowing.
WHEN to do it?
If your skin is dry, flaky, dull, feels harsh, or breaks out, it may be time to exfoliate.
Here are 5 easy ways to tell when its time:
- There's a quick test you can do with tape. Press a piece of tape on your forehead or your arm, rub it on for 2-3 seconds. If it comes off with flakes on it, it's time to exfoliate.
- Clogged pores. All skin types can get clogged pores. Blackheads, whiteheads, and little clogged bumps can be caused by excess oil production (oily skin) or low cellular turnover (dry skin). The more you remove surface cells, the less oil will stay trapped and congested in the pores.
- Your skincare products no longer seem to be working. You may have a build-up of dead skin that no longer allows your products to penetrate.
- Hyperpigmentation or acne scars. Removes damaged surface cells, discoloration is diminished, and new healthy skin appears.
- You have ingrown hairs or skin looks dull and feels dry. Prevents curly hair from growing back into the skin. Stimulates faster skin cell renewal to allow smoother and more even-toned skin to appear.
WHERE and HOW often?
This where is easy - all over, baby. Our entire body benefits from exfoliation!
Based on your skin type, it's best done 1-2 times a week. Don't do it too often, especially on melanin-rich skin! Exfoliating too often can cause irritation, strip your skin of natural oils, and lead to breakouts which can result in skin discoloration. If you continue to overdo it, over time, this may thin the skin leading to wrinkles. (Timelessorganoicsskincare.com)
There are a few ways to achieve results. You can use a natural scrub or mask product, use a tool for the face or body, or a chemical peel (at your dermatologist's office.) If using a scrub at home, be careful. Too harsh a product can strip the outer layer of skin that acts as a barrier against the environment, so be cautious. We recommend an exfoliant with calming ingredients as it's beneficial to reduce irritation and inflammation.
If your skin is red, irritated, or has severe acne, avoid exfoliating or consult a dermatologist.
Pro Tip: After exfoliating, the skin is ready to absorb products. Use a replenishing oil it has all of the ingredients that are beneficial to nourish and re-hydrate your skin.
Ingredients to look for in your products:
Natural scrubs like oats and coffee grounds gently refine the skin's surface. Oats are gentle and soothe dry/sensitive skin, and caffeine helps reduce puffiness and inflammation.
AHA (Alpha Hydroxy Acids) water-soluble, ideal for dry to well-balanced skin, found in fruits like lemon, grapefruit, papaya, pineapple, grapes, berries, apples
BHA (Beta Hydroxy Acids) Oil-soluble, suitable for oily to combination skin helps fight acne, Salicylic acid found in tomato, white willow bark, wintergreen leaves, green tea leaves
Fruit Enzymes gently "eat clogged pores and congestion," perfect for sensitive skin, found in pineapple, papaya, banana.
Pro Tip: Be careful of using sugar, beads, nutshells, microbes, coarse salt, baking soda (disrupts natural bacteria) on your face. Even the smallest of these ingredients often have rough edges that can put small tears in your skin that the eye can't see but may cause damage over time.
My recommendations for the BEST non-toxic exfoliating products are:
Kadalys Musaclean Peeling Exfoliant - All skin types, exceedingly dull and uneven complexions
Marie Hunter Blooming Fruit Infused Facial Scrub - All skin types
Dehiya Mihakka - Use this tool with Dehiya Alai cleanser or any cleanser to exfoliate while cleansing
NCLA Sugar Sugar Lip Scrub - Great for lip exfoliation
Buff Experts Srsly Buffed Dry Brush - Great tool for shower exfoliation
So remember, exfoliate your entire body regularly for a brighter and softer complexion!