While most people know about cleaning, moisturizing and even sunscreen, exfoliation seems to be an overlooked regimen in skin care at home. Exfoliation is the skin’s natural process of removing dead skin cells to reveal the healthy, glowing fresh skin cells beneath. The exterior skin cells become dry, scaly and non-functional as they die.
As we age the process of exfoliation through begins to slow. By the time we reach the ripe old age of 25 that process has doubled in time. What once took 30 days now takes 60.
So the new skin cells that were revealed after 30 days when we were 20 now takes 60 days to come to the surface, making our faces duller, dryer and definitely looking our age.
But we have options to improve the natural process by using an exfoliation to help the skin shed the dead cells.
There are two types of exfoliation of the facial skin. One is chemical and the other is physical.
Chemical exfoliation products often contain a form of mild acid such as alpha hydroxy or salicylic acid. These work to slough off the outer layer of the skin. They come in different strengths over the counter or as a prescription. They can be used alone or in combination with a physical exfoliation product.
Before combining these products on your own check with your dermatologist because combinations can cause damage to the outer layer of skin that can result in red, damaged and burned skin. Some products are delivered as combination products, which have been tested and are approved to use on skin. But combining your own over the counter products on your own can result in disaster.
Physical exfoliation products usually have an abrasive agent such as small plastic beads, ground botanicals, jojoba beads or ground nuts. The use of a physical agent helps to remove dead skin cells. The particulate matter in the product can come in different sizes and the type you use will depend upon the application process.
Physical exfoliation is a popular means of cleaning and ‘buffing’ skin from the tips of the toes to the face. And the product you use on your feet shouldn’t be used on the face. Products meant for the body are too harsh for the delicate skin on the face and neck.
Start the process of exfoliation with a clean and wet face. Depending upon your schedule exfoliation can be done in the evening or morning. However, using an exfoliant in the morning means you should wait about 20 minutes before putting on your make up to allow the face to rebalance before apply more products that will remain on all day.
Wet your skin, place a small amount of the product in your hand and apply it in gentle circles around your face avoiding the area around the eyes. The skin around the eyes is too delicate for exfoliation. Using a chemical or abrasive product around the eyes will damage the skin in just a short amount of time.
Rinse your face with warm water and pat it dry. Make sure you get the entire product off your face. You may find that using an exfoliation product before showering in the morning allows you to fully rinse your face of all of the particulate matter, as well as rinsing those pesky beads that migrate into your hairline.
Exfoliation should be done once or twice weekly. It will take a week or two to see consistent results that last all week. You’ll be very satisfied with the long-term results of cleansing and removing dead cells so your true radiance shines through.
You can choose to purchase an exfoliant or make one at home. Some great products you can include in an exfoliant are ground oats, milled flax seed, cornmeal, yogurt, honey or buttermilk. A mix of yogurt and ground oats is actually a mix of chemical and abrasive exfoliant because the ground oats are abrasive and the yogurt is chemical (lactic acid in the yogurt).
Mixing oatmeal, ½ cup milk and 1 tsp of honey to make a paste. Apply this to your face and let it dry. Rub this off gently with a warm wet washcloth.
Your hands will love ½ cup of granulated sugar, 2 tablespoons of apricot oil, the juice of ½ lemon or 3 drops of lemon essential oil. Combine these and apply them immediately to your hands. Rub this for a minute and then rinse with warm water and moisturizer. Sugar is an excellent exfoliator and apricot oil is a natural lubricant.
Make your feet sing with this nuts scrub. Ready: ½ cup shelled walnuts, 1 tablespoon olive oil, 1 tablespoon of castor oil, 1 teaspoon of honey and 1-2 drops of your favorite essential oil. Blend the nuts in a blender until a fine powder; add the rest of the ingredients to make a paste. Rub your feet with this vigorously and rinse with warm water. This is wonderful when used twice weekly.