An Introduction To Exfoliation

The skin is the biggest organ in the human body. It serves as protective layer for the body. Our skin can be divided into two parts – epidermis (the external part of the skin) and dermis (the internal part of the skin). Both parts are made of skin cells. For example, the epidermis consists of several layers of epithelial cells, which are very close to one another and build a very compact layer. The number of layers depends on the part of body that we are analyzing, but it is usually between 20 and 30 layers. The layers that are found on the surface consist of completely flattened cells, which are gradually dying out and replaced with new ones. These cells overlap like roof tiles on the roof and allow the skin to stretch while moving. Thousands of dead cells are falling off from the skin each day, but the skin is not worn down because the cells are constantly replaced. However, between these changes, we often experience a build-up of dead cells on the skin surface because the creation of new cells and the removal of dead ones don’t always follow the same rate. These accumulated cells provide shelter to other dirty and potentially harmful substances that can make the skin look old and unattractive and in some cases they can lead to certain skin conditions too. In other words, it becomes necessary to remove the top layer of dead cells. When people are younger, cells renew faster and frequent skin treatments are not necessary, but the situation is different in older people.

What is exfoliation?

There are many people who have heard about this term, but they are still wondering what is exfoliation. Exfoliation is a term that is used to describe the physiological process which removes dead cells from the epidermis. This is a completely natural process. However, when we talk about exfoliation today people usually think about some of the many mechanical and chemical procedures that can speed up the process. According to many experts, exfoliation should be part of a weekly skin care treatment because with this procedure you will be able to eliminate dead skin cells that clog the pores. Exfoliation can make the skin smoother and softer. In addition, it can also improve the structure of the skin, encourage the process of renewal and make the skin look healthier. The regenerated and renewed skin has improved ability to absorb commercial and natural skin care products like creams, serums, protective creams and improve their effects.

There are basically three different types of products used for skin exfoliation –scrubs, chemical exfoliants and enzymes.

Scrubs include particles that have the ability to remove dead skin cells when they are rubbed onto the skin. In other words, scrubs are used for mechanical cleansing of the skin. These particles usually consist of beads or solid particles that can barely be felt on the skin. Enzymes are used for non-invasive exfoliation of the skin. They are perfect for individuals with a sensitive type of skin. Products that contain enzymes are usually based on fruits like pineapple and papaya. Finally, chemical exfoliants include AHA (alpha hydroxyl acid) which can reach the deeper layers of skin and perform in-depth cleansing of dead skin cells.

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The benefits of practicing skin exfoliation

All the types of exfoliation we have mentioned remove the upper epidermal layer without affecting the layer of the dermis. Exfoliation of the epidermal layer is great because it reduces the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles and it also enhances the effects of skin care products. In addition, this simple process reduces the secretion of sebum or skin oil which is very important for people who have to deal with oily skin and helps them cope with acne in a better way. Overall, exfoliation acts as a complete cleaning of the skin and stimulates the growth of new skin cells making skin much healthier and younger.

Overuse of exfoliation

Since there are many positive effects of skin exfoliation it is not unusual for individuals to start overusing this procedure. This is a gentle treatment, but if it is use excessively it may damage the skin and destroy the new layer of skin cells. Some of the negative effects of overusing exfoliation include reduced flexibility and vitality of the skin and increased risk from the effects of UV rays. Exfoliation that is practiced very frequently can lead to an inflammatory reaction which ultimately means that the lipid barrier of the skin (or the defense shield of the skin) is aging faster and becoming more sensitive.

There are few signs and symptoms that can indicate an abuse of exfoliation like skin peeling, visible dehydration, itching and redness, tension in the skin, acne and irritation caused by inflammation and increased sensitivity. In case you notice some of these signs, you should help your skin by using soft, calming tonic and hydration cream with adequate UV protection. The protection of skin from UV radiation is a must especially when we have disturbed the natural protective barrier with frequent exfoliation. It is the best idea to use exfoliation creams based on zinc oxide and titanium dioxide which won’t irritate the skin.

Exfoliation and the aging process

When we are young, using exfoliation helps us improve smoothness and prevents premature aging of the skin. This means that we need only one peeling per week. Those suffering from pimples and acne should stay away from mechanical exfoliation because in this case, the procedure will only disperse the dirt. Those who have reached their 30s can have up to 2 exfoliation treatments per week. When these treatments are used together with hydration masks, the shine of the skin is improved too. Individuals with mature skin can use products with keratolytic agents on a daily basis. They stimulate cell renewal. In addition, they should use special deep cleaning scrubs twice a week. These scrubs should contain granules, chemical peel or microdermoabrasive compounds depending on the needs of the skin.

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