The Skinny on Exfoliation

Exfoliation… it really is just a fancy word for removing dead skin cells. Whether you do it daily via masks or scrubs, or seek frequent medical spa treatments like facials, microdermabrasion or chemical peels, exfoliation is a critical step in any healthy skin care routine.

Get glowing skin.

Exfoliation is one of the easiest ways to restore a more vibrant and youthful appearance. As you age, your skin loses its luster, and can often appear dull and lifeless. Excessive build-up of dead skin cells is a result of infrequent to no exfoliation in your routine. This build up inhibits the hydrating properties in your skin care products, especially moisturizers, from being effectively absorbed by your skin.

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What causes the buildup of dead skin cells?


A few namely culprits are:

  • Aging: as we age, our skin gets drier. Dry skin traps dead skin cells making exfoliating skin care products even more important to your regimen.

  • Not properly cleansing your skin: our skin is constantly creating new cells and shedding old ones. If not properly cleaned a blockage of excess oil or makeup can slow the process of generating new cells.

  • Free radicals (internal triggers like stress or poor nutrition; external triggers like cigarette smoke, sun damage, environmental toxins): are tiny chemical particles that damage our healthy cells, turning them into dead cells. Combined with the natural aging process, dead skin cells cause uneven skin tone, blemishes, pigmentation issues and wrinkles.

The good news about exfoliation is that it doesn’t take a long time to start noticing results. Within days after exfoliating your skin will look healthier and more youthful.

A good exfoliator

Some of the more common and powerful agents when looking for proper anti-aging exfoliation and breaking up build-up are Retinols and acids like: Glycolic, Lactic and Salicylic.

Retinols are derived from Vitamin A, which is a powerful antioxidant used in many anti-aging skin care products. They promote faster skin cell turnover and help reverse the signs on aging. There are different forms of retinols that you can discuss with your medical aesthetician or dermatologist. One thing to note about retinols aside from being great exfoliators on their own is that they can sometimes be drying or cause irritation to your skin. Sensitive skin types beware. Retinols also make you more sensitive to sunlight, which is why they are usually recommended for nighttime application.

  • Glycolic Acid is a member of the alpha hydroxy acid (AHA) family and is originally derived from sugar cane. It’s a more gentle acid on the skin due to its large molecule and usually produces a mild peeling effect for skin cell turnover. It enables quick and easy exfoliation and can be used every day. Like retinols there is sun sensitivity to Glycolic Acid as well. Using sunscreen daily after you moisturize is very important.

  • Lactic Acid is another AHA, originally derived from the fermentation of milk. It comes in various strengths and is best for gently sloughing off the top layer of the epidermis, which smoothes the skin and minimizes the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. Lactic acid is both an exfoliator and humectant. It both restores and hydrates the skin.

  • Salicylic Acid…acne-prone skin LOVES you. Salicylic acid not only exfoliates, but also neutralizes the bacteria that causes breakouts, and reduces overall inflammation.

A powerful combination:
Retinol + Glycolic

Retinol builds cells from the dermis and pushes old cells up through the dermal layers into the epidermis to be discarded. Glycolic acid then lifts those dead cells, or “unglues” them from the skin, exfoliating them off the skin’s surface, revealing a more refreshed appearance. Use retinol at night and glycolic in the morning to keep this cycle of exfoliation and rejuvenation going.

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