We exfoliate to remove dead skin cells, even out texture and help dislodge blocked pores. Chances are we all know why we undertake this part of our routine, but we aren’t too sure what true effect it is having on our skin. Exfoliating is an essential part of a good skin care regime and should be conducted on all skin types. Exfoliators tend to have a granulated feel to them (sand or sugar based,) that work to lift and remove dead skin cells which sit on the top layers of our skin. The majority of those I talk to say if they’ve used an exfoliator that didn’t contain some sort of grainy fragments, they’d feel that hadn’t exfoliated their skin. Right? Wrong! The truth is that using a granulated exfoliator can actually be doing your skin more harm than good.
The top layer of the skin, known as the Epidermis, consists of five compact layers of skin cells. The very top layer (seen by the naked eye) is completely dead and is constantly shedding old skin cells to make room for the new; that very top layer is there primarily to protect the deeper waterproof layers of skin. When we use a harsh granulated exfoliator, we remove the protective layer of the epidermis which leaves the waterproof layer completely exposed. This results in our skin becoming dehydrated and exposed to bacteria, which could lead to blocked pores and breakouts. The skin is a very intelligent organ, constantly shedding skin cells – approximately 100,000 a day. It knows exactly what to do, therefore we just need to lend it a helping hand and keep our protective layer intact rather than removing it altogether!
So, what type of exfoliator should you be using? I’m a big believer in keeping things as gentle as possible when it comes to your skin. If you really do like the feel of some sort of grainy substance in your exfoliator, then anything that contains jojoba beads has a big thumbs up from me. The jojoba beads will have a very gentle exfoliating effect on the skin and should not strip it in any way (as long as it contains no alcohol or harsh chemicals.)
At the moment it seems everyone is talking about exfoliating toners and the truth is, they really are the future. Toners such as Pixi Glow Tonic, Ren Clarifying Toning lotion or Clarins Exfoliating and Brightening Toner contain ingredients such as Salicylic Acid, Tamarin or Lactic Acid, all of which will naturally eat away dead skin cells without drying the skin underneath. Another great way of exfoliating the skin is to mix a Kaolin (clay) based mask with a few drops of sweet almond oil, massaging into the skin until the mask breaks. The kaolin will soak up any excess oils and hydrate the upper skin layers whilst it’s working. Keeping all layers of the epidermis intact and nourished will keep your skin healthy, nourished and balanced, so make sure you think twice the text time you reach for that super powerful skin scrub.
Written by Amy Bambrick