Exfoliation is one of the most important steps in a skincare routine. Exfoliating is the process of removing dead skin cells from the surface of your skin using a chemical, granular substance, or exfoliation tool.
Your skin naturally sheds dead skin cells to make room for new cells every 30 days or so. Sometimes, dead cells don’t shed completely. This can result in dry, flaky patches and clogged pores. Exfoliating can help prevent this.
Exfoliating regularly can help improve the appearance in your skin in several ways. Regularly exfoliating your skin can help unclog pores which result in less frequent breakouts, and long term exfoliation leads to collagen stimulation and production resulting in better skin elasticity, vibrancy, and appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. Additionally, exfoliation can leave your skin looking brighter and improve the effectiveness of topical skin care products by enhancing absorption.
There are two types of exfoliation: physical and chemical
What is Physical Exfoliation?
- Physical exfoliation is performed with an exfoliation tool—Dermaplaning or Microdermabrasion—or using a granular substance.
- Dermaplaning and Microdermabrasion are both performed in office with little to no downtime. Each procedure takes about 45 minutes or less.
- At home products like Skinceutical’s Micro-exfoliating scrub can help maintain the results from your in-office exfoliation. This product should only be used 1-2 times a week to decrease the chance of irritation. There is such a thing as too much exfoliation. Over exfoliation of the face can result in excessive dryness, irritation, and sensitivity.
What is Chemical Exfoliation?
- This method uses different chemicals, including hydroxy acids and retinol, with enzymes to renew your skin.
While at-home products can help enhance your skin’s appearance, chemical exfoliation can offer more dramatic results.
As with physical exfoliation, chemical exfoliation can irritate the skin if done incorrectly. If you’re unsure about how to incorporate a chemical product into your routine, feel free to set up a consultation to go over your skincare options.
Alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs)
AHAs are a group of water-soluble acids typically derived from sugary fruits. Popular AHAs include:
- glycolic acid, which comes from sugar cane
- lactic acid, which is found in milk and pickled vegetables
- citric acid, found in citrus fruits
These acids help peel away the surface of your skin so that new, more evenly pigmented skin cells may generate and take their place.
Depending on the type, AHAs may also help with:
- mild pigmentation, like age spots, melasma, and scars
- enlarged pores
- fine lines and surface wrinkles
- uneven skin tone
Beta hydroxy acids (BHAs)
BHAs, on the other hand, are oil-soluble. These acids go deep into your hair follicles to dry out excess oils and dead skin cells to unclog your pores.
Because of this, BHA products are primarily used to treat acne and sun damage.
Salicylic Acid is the most common BHA. It’s well known as an acne treatment, but it can also help calm general redness and inflammation.
Retinoids are a class of medications derived from vitamin A. They’re used to treat sun-damaged skin, reduce appearance of fine lines, and treat acne.
They work by protecting your skin from free radicals and promoting collagen production.
There are several topical retinoids available, including:
- tretinoin (retin-a)
Retinoids vary in concentration. Please talk to your skincare provider before starting a new retinoid product to make sure it is appropriate for your skin.
Whether you should stick to at-home skincare, or seek out professional treatments ultimately depends on your individual skin care needs.
If you have an underlying skin condition or are unsure about where to start, we offer a consultation. Set one up to know just what treatments and products are right for your skin. From there we can walk you through your options and help you develop a skin care routine suited for your individual goals and lifestyle.