Everything you need to about exfoliation

There once was a time when exfoliation was a simple affair – or so we thought: slough away dead skin cells with your chosen scrub two or three times a week and cue the next step in your beauty regimen. But skincare experts believe many of us have been doing it wrong all along. “We’ve always said that exfoliation is the heart of a good skincare regimen,” says Tracy May-Harriott, international education director for Elizabeth Arden Professional. “But so often those who need to exfoliate the most are the ones who do it the least,” she says.

According to May-Harriott one of the biggest beauty myths we’ve fallen for is that exfoliating more frequently will combat oily skin. In fact, the opposite is true. Before even heading to the beauty counter in search of the ideal exfoliator, May-Harriott says assessing your skin’s oil control and levels is crucial. “If you’ve got really oily skin the last thing you want to be doing is scrubbing every second day; you’re just going to increase oil production,” May-Harriott says explaining that good exfoliator won’t only remove dead skin, it will also activate sebaceous glands bringing more oil to the epidermis, creating a more hydrated complexion.“Think about that same action for someone who has really dry skin though. If you’ve got dry skin you need to be doing two or three mechanical scrubs a week to get moisture into the skin,” she explains.

Traditional exfoliants and scrubs aren’t the only considerations we need to be making either. “Exfoliation has become so generalised. We always just think scrubs, and people traditionally think of a granular exfoliant,” May-Harriott says. “But these days your cleanser can be exfoliating, your moisturiser can be exfoliating and your serum too.”

New Frontier

May-Harriott is referring to enzymes – often fruit derivatives – and hydroxy acids that provide a different type of exfoliation to mechanical exfoliation using the gritty formulas we’re all familiar with. Unlike traditional formulations alpha hydroxy acids and enzymes – which are found in everything from cleansers to masks – dissolve old skin cells and are thought to stimulate cell turnover in the epidermis to refine skin texture, clarity and luminosity. “Alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs), are naturally occurring substances derived from plant sources and milk. Fruit and vegetables such as apples, grapes, cherries, lemons, papaya, tomatoes and pineapple all contain AHAs,” explains Skin Institute clinical educator and cosmetic nurse, Tania Mackenzie.

Glycolic and lactic acids are two of the more common AHAs used in new-age exfoliators. “A mild lactic acid cleanser is the gentlest option to help hydrate and gently clean the skin,” explains Mackenzie. “For more robust skin types, these lactic acid cleansers, depending on the brand, can often be used as both cleanser and mask, which can be left on the skin for a few minutes following the initial cleanse,” she explains. As well helping skin restore radiance and translucency, AHAs can help combat superficial pigmentation. “We are also removing the melanin pigment that is stored inside that skin cell. So by regular exfoliation with AHAs you will notice a brightening of your skin, with a more uniform skin tone,” explains Mackenzie.

Everything you need to know about sunscreen

Trying to decipher sunscreen labels, what they all mean and how you should be applying this summer necessity can be a minefield. Up your awareness by familiarising yourself with our guide to staying safe in the sun.

Shady days
It’s hard not to automatically associate sunburn with heat but it’s the sun’s ultraviolet radiation that causes sunburn, premature ageing and skin damage, not the warmth from the sun. Which explains why it’s just as crucial to cover up on overcast days. Unlike infrared radiation – the heat we feel from the sun – ultraviolet radiation ( UVA and UVB rays) cannot be felt on the skin. Dermatologists explain sunburn as a toxic reaction to exposure to UV radiation – the heat we feel coming from sunburn is generally attributed to an increase in blood flow to the site.

Know As from Bs
Ultraviolet A and ultraviolet B rays might damage skin in different ways, but it’s important to protect skin from both. Linda Sharrem, Caci skincare expert explains that UVA rays are often thought of as “ageing” rays. “UVA rays penetrate deep through the epidermis into the lower layers of the skin, and cause damage like premature ageing, lines, wrinkles and loss of elasticity,” Sharrem explains. UVB rays are the ones that cause sunburn and cause a greater risk of skin cancer, though recent studies have shown that UVA rays increases the damaging effect UVB has on skin. Always buy broad-spectrum sunscreen which will shield skin from both UVA and UVB.

Make a date
We shouldn’t let our skin sizzle over summer, nor should we leave our sunscreens to smoulder in the sun. Always store sunscreen somewhere cool and out of direct sunlight as exposure to heat can reduce the effectiveness of formulations. “Most sunscreens are lying around in the sun while we’re at the beach,” says Shareem, which is why she recommends checking the packaging for expiry dates and replacing sunscreen yearly to ensure full protection.“

Getting physical
Sunscreen formulations fall into two camps: physical and chemical. Physical formulations contain active mineral ingredients, zinc oxide and titanium oxide, sit on top of the skin and work by reflecting both UVA and UVB rays. Chemical formulations, on the other hand, are more common and work by penetrating the skin and absorbing harmful rays. As for which formulation is better, a lot of it comes down to personal choice. Mineral formulations work quicker but because they sit on the skin, they need to be reapplied more frequently especially if perspiring or swimming.

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