Take a stroll down the skin care aisle at any major retailer and you will get a sense that exfoliating your skin is important.
Why has exfoliation become such an important part of our skin care routine? And what is the best method for your skin type?
The skin is comprised of four layers, the top layer includes dead and dying skin cells. In young, healthy skin, these dead cells flake off in a normal cycle of about 28 days.
As we age, or our skin becomes damaged by exposure to the elements, this normal cycle begins to slow. If these dead skin cells are allowed to remain on the face for a longer period of time, the skin begins to appear rough and dull. This excess skin can also clog pores and cause blackheads.
There are many exfoliation products on the market, most fall into one of these categories:
Physical: Anything that uses particles to removes dead skin cells. Scrubs, face brushes and microdermabrasion treatments are all physical exfoliators.
Enzyme: These products use an enzyme, usually derived from fruit, to dissolve the bonds that trap dead skin cells and slow the natural skin cell turn over. An enzyme exfoliator, usually in the form of a gel or cream, is left on the skin for a short period of time to allow it to penetrate.
Chemical: Anything that uses an acid to remove dead skin cells is a chemical exfoliator. Glycolic and salicylic are two of the most popular acids used in this manner. Professional chemical peels also fall into this category.
My favorite method of exfoliating at home on a regular basis (1-2 times per week) is an enzyme mask. Enzymes are more effective and predictable than scrubs and carry less of a chance of reaction than chemicals.
For best results, professional exfoliating treatments like chemical peels and microdermabrasion should be incorporated into your routine.
Consult a professional to determine the best course of treatment for your skin type. Many of my clients with combination skin and fear of aging have a session of microdermabrasion every 4-6 weeks and a light chemical peel 3-4 times a year.