As you dive deeper into the world of cosmetic dermatology and skin care, you’ll run into the term “exfoliation” quite a bit, right up there with “cleansing” and “moisturizing.” Indeed, exfoliation is a key component in any serious skin care regimen, but people tend to stumble on the details, such as which products to use and how often to use them. Others might wonder if exfoliation is worth all the hype to begin with. If you’re wondering whether exfoliating really is good for your skin and/or how often to perform this task, you’ve come to the right place. Let’s peel back the layers of exfoliation.
In regards to skin care, exfoliation refers to a process wherein dead skin cells are intentionally removed from the surface to make way for new growth. One can accomplish this via mechanical (physical) or chemical means. Mechanical exfoliation devices include loofahs, pumice stones, cleaning scrubs, exfoliating mitts, microneedling rollers, and more; these various items all contain a mildly abrasive surface that scrapes away dead skin cells that haven’t completely shed away on their own. Chemical exfoliation, on the other hand, can be achieved via different substances, such as alpha and beta hydroxy acids (AHAs and BHAs) and topical retinoids. Some chemical exfoliants are more potent than others and so more or less suited for different skin types.
When dead skin cells linger on the surface, they can clog your pores and cause acne outbreaks, as well as contribute to a duller tone and texture. Removing old skin cells from your skin’s surface via exfoliation helps to rejuvenate your skin, making it brighter, smoother, and clearer. In addition to preventing breakouts and acne scars, routine exfoliation can diminish the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, reduce visible signs of sun damage, and boost the effectiveness of other skincare products, allowing them to penetrate deeper into the skin. So yes, exfoliating can be great for your skin and its appearance. Before you start scrubbing away like crazy, though, there are some things you should know.
The phrase “too much of a good thing” applies to many products and activities, exfoliation included. This is especially true if you have particularly sensitive, dry, or oily skin. Exfoliation, after all, is meant to be a little rough, and overdoing it can lead to irritation, redness, and other issues. As such, experts typically recommend that you exfoliate two or three times a week (once or twice if you have highly sensitive skin) using a product and/or method that’s right for your skin type. Some swear by daily exfoliation, but it’s best to take things slow before working your way up to this frequency, as not everyone’s skin can handle it. Those with mature skin should exfoliate their skin as well, but gently and only once or twice a week. Ultimately, your routine will depend on your skin type and desired outcomes. Your dermatologist can help you find the best exfoliation process for your skin and give you detailed instructions regarding duration and frequency.
Our skin naturally sheds old cells to make way for the new -- exfoliation simply speeds up the process and ensures that those obsolete cells don’t overstay their welcome and cause trouble. With so many methods and philosophies regarding exfoliation, it’s good to have a knowledgeable partner by your side to steer you in the right direction. At Premier Dermatology Partners, we’re here to provide you with advice and expert care for healthier, more beautiful skin.
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