Exfoliation Revisited

I had a reader ask me to give them a little more info on exfoliation (and you know how I like to be helpful and all) so here’s what I dug up:

Exfoliation removes dead surface cells, which not only gives your skin an all around healthier, glowing appearance, but also minimizes the clogged pores that cause those awful breakouts in the first place.  There are basically two different types of exfoliation: chemical and physical.

Chemical exfoliation is done with the use of chemicals (usually acids) to dissolve and remove the top layer of dead skin cells. This is what people are referring to when they talk about a “chemical peel”. Physical exfoliation is what most people think of when they hear the term. It’s the use of granular agents to slough off the top layer of dead skin. Sugar, apricot, and pumice are all ingredients commonly found in physical exfoliants.

Acne sufferers have to be extra careful when exfoliating, because you don’t want to irritate your already tender and delicate skin. For this post, when I say “exfoliate” I am referring to physical exfoliation. Personally, I don’t know a whole lot about chemical peels, so I will be doing some research on the subject in the next day or so and getting back to you guys.

Avoid harsher ingredients, like a large concentration of pumice or apricot kernels, because they can actually scratch your skin. And remember not to scrub more than twice a week. Over doing it will just kick your skin into emergency repair mode—not a good thing.

One of the most important steps to exfoliating when you have acne is moisturizing. When you scrub your face, you’re removing your skin’s natural oils. If you don’t replace that moisture, your face is going to start producing extra oil to make up for it, which is just going to end up clogging your pores, and all your work will be for naught.

Choose a moisturizer designed specifically for your skin type, and one that’s oil free (or as close to it as you can find). And never, ever use body lotion on your face.

One last note—watch your sun exposure right after exfoliating. You’ve just exposed a delicate layer of facial skin. Exposing it to sunlight right away can cause over drying, peeling, or even worse: burning. Make your exfoliation routine a night time thing, and if your must scrub in the am, don’t forget the sunscreen.

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