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6 skin exfoliating rules you need to be following

6 skin exfoliating rules you need to be following

6 skin exfoliating rules you need to be following

Our skin is a wonderful factory that constantly churns out new cells. In fact, we create a whole new skin surface every few weeks! Terri Vinson Cosmetic Chemist & Founder of Synergie Skin shares the what, why and when of skin exfoliating.

Exfoliation is the removal of dead skin cells that cling to the skin’s surface and in the pores. Exfoliation is a vital, natural process when it comes to the health of our skin. Our skin is programmed to exfoliate naturally and fun fact, most of the dust in your vacuum cleaner is dead skin cells.

Normal skin cells renew every 20-30 days. However, as we age, this process becomes sluggish and we end up with rough, patchy and dull skin with dead cells clinging to the skin. Younger acne sufferers have the opposite problem. Their skin cells reproduce too quickly and many of these new cells become trapped in the pores. Mix these dead cells with oil and top it up with P.Acnes bacteria and voila… you have a pimple!

Why exfoliate?

If our natural processes of exfoliation are disrupted, we need to rely on good skincare to improve our skin.

It is particularly important to remove dead surface skin to encourage new cell production. Exfoliation also removes clusters of sun damaged skin cells (aka sunspots) and helps to unclog pores and clarify acneic skin.

What exfoliants can be used in my skin regimen?

  1. Chemical Exfoliants: These are usually available in the form of serums. Alpha Hydroxy acids (AHA’s) such as lactic acid remove dead surface cells and improve our natural moisture levels. Beta hydroxy acids (BHA’s) such as salicylic acid help to unclog pores and reduce irritation. I would advise to avoid glycolic acid, which can be more irritating. Opt for gentler and hydrating lactic acid in combination with salicylic acid for decongesting the pores.
  2. Physical Exfoliants: These exfoliants are scrubbing agents which physically remove the dead surface cells. There are many materials used for physical exfoliation, such as walnut husks, coffee grinds, sugar and salt. However, one of the best physical scrub agents, in my opinion, is aluminium oxide crystals, the same material used in microdermabrasion machines. These crystals do a fantastic job to remove surface roughness and dead skin build-up, particularly around the T-zone. It is important not to scrub too vigorously as this can damage the delicate skin and may cause fine blood vessels to become visible.

Tip: Use the balls of your fingers and gently massage into areas of concern for one minute.

  1. Chemical Peels: Peels produce a higher-level exfoliation and should be performed by a skin therapist. A well-executed peel series will reveal a smooth, revitalised texture through resurfacing the skin. Generally, those who suffer from acne, congestion, blackheads, sun damage and fine lines will benefit from peels.  There isn’t a one size fits all so I suggest having a consultation with your skin therapist who can recommend the best peel series for you.

When should I exfoliate?

Exfoliation with skin care products depends on your skin type. In general, the 6 rules are as follows:

  • Dry skin
    • Chemical exfoliation once or twice weekly (serum)
    • Use once weekly maximum with a physical exfoliant (scrub)
  • Normal Skin
    • Chemical exfoliation (serum) weekly to remove surface dead cells
    • Physical exfoliation (scrub) fortnightly
  • Sun damaged / pigmented skin
    • Daily chemical exfoliation (serum) until the skin appears more refined and brighter and then twice weekly for maintenance
  • Ageing skin
    • Chemical exfoliation (serum) twice weekly
    • Physical exfoliation (scrub) fortnightly
  • Sensitive Skin
    • Avoid physical scrubs
    • Use a muslin cloth for cleansing (these are great for daily exfoliation for everyone!) and a pH balanced SLS free cleanser for mild exfoliation
    • Try low level salicylic acid products or yeast and soy peptide exfoliants as a gentle alternative to strong acids
  • Acne and congestion
    • Chemical exfoliation (serum) daily until the acne is controlled then reduce usage to alternate days
    • Physical exfoliation (scrub) no more than twice weekly focusing on the T-Zone and avoiding open blemishes

So, exfoliation is so much more than rubbing grit on your skin. Exfoliate to suit your skin type and your skin will be smooth and glowing all year round.

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