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Way to Glow! (Notes and Tips About Exfoliation)

Jennifer Katehos

Posted on June 12 2017

The human skin produces approximately one million skin cells every 40 minutes.  These cells are created, plump and juicy, in the deepest level of the epidermis, then move up the layers of the epidermis to the skin’s surface.  As the cells make their journey, they harden, flatten, and lose moisture, eventually detaching from the skin at the surface, in a process called desquamation.  When these cells detach from the skin, they are replaced by younger cells moving up from the deeper layers.

Skin cells, however, don’t always effectively fall from the skin, which may cause clogged follicles, congestion, dryness, and dullness.  Exfoliation, which removes this cell accumulation to reveal the newer cells below, is critical for a fresh, healthy appearance.  The act of exfoliation also improves skin texture, brightens the skin, stimulates the production of collagen and elastin, and stimulates cell renewal rates, helping to reduce the signs of premature aging.

There are two types of exfoliation: chemical and physical.  Chemical exfoliation incorporates ingredients such as lactic acid, which encourages skin cell turnover, and enzymes derived from pineapples and papayas, which dissolve dead skin cells on the surface.  Physical exfoliation incorporates gritty manual skin polishers.  The key to using a physical exfoliant on the delicate skin of the face is to use a scrub with smooth, fine granules and to use light, gentle pressure.  We like to think of the skin as a wet piece of tissue paper you don’t want to tear or as an overfull balloon you don’t want to pop.

Aim to exfoliate approximately one to two times per week.  Over-exfoliation causes noticeable dehydration, sensitization, irritation, inflammation, and dilated capillaries.  As always, wear sunscreen on those beautiful skin cells of yours, even when you are inside and even on cloudy days; UVA (ultraviolet-A) light, which causes signs of aging, makes up 95% of all UV light reaching the earth's surface and passes though clouds and glass!