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Exfoliation Nation: Why You Should Scrub-A-Dub-Dub

By Lynnie | January 15 2010 | 19 Comments

Dr. Hauschka may be dead set against it, but I’m a big fan of exfoliation in all its many glorious forms. Whether you opt for manual exfoliation with products like scrubs or tools like muslin cloths or the Clarisonic brush (or the Buf Puf, for anyone reading this blog from the ’80s), or chemical exfoliation in the form of something like enzyme peels, you can rest assured that your skin is going to look all the better for it if you incorporate regular exfoliation into your skincare regime.

Exfoliation is basically a speeding up of the natural process of desquamation, the shedding of dead skin cells. It sloughs off any dead skin cells that may persist in clinging to the outermost layer of the skin’s epidermis, which may fail to be shed naturally as a result of aging, since the desquamation process slows down with age.

Hormonal changes, environmental factors like sun exposure, or vitamin deficiencies can all compound the problem. Exfoliation improves the appearance of the skin as fresher skin cells are exposed – skintone looks more even, dullness is reduced, pores appear reduced in size and less clogged, and fine lines are less noticeable. Skin’s also more receptive to treatments like masks when those dead cells have been done away with.

Products containing hydroxy acids (either AHAs like lactic or glycolic acid or the BHA salicylic acid) or Retinol also have a chemical exfoliating action, and while they may suit skins that can’t tolerate abrasive physical exfoliants they can cause irritation, and need to be used in conjunction with a good sunscreen as they increase sun sensitivity.

It’s a good idea to use them at nighttime, too, so that skin has a chance to recover before exposure to sunlight. They’re to be found now in lots of skincare products, but you should only use one such product at a time to minimize the chance of skin irritation; they’re often most effective in moisturisers where they can be absorbed by the skin to do their thang. AHAs and Retinol are best suited to tackling prematurely photo-aged skin as well as the effects of normal chronological aging, while salicylic acid is best for acne- or congestion-prone skin.

Now, people wonder all the time if it’s possible to over-exfoliate, and of course it is. It’s fairly easy to do, actually, because exfoliation makes such an improvement to the look of skin that you might be inclined to think that more exfoliation equals even better looking skin. Regardless of skin type, you shouldn’t be exfoliating more than two or three times a week (never on consecutive days), and only once a week or even once every ten days if your skin is normal or sensitive.

Over-exfoliation can compromise the skin’s natural lipid barrier, sensitising skin and even accelerate premature skin aging. Eek! You’ll know you’re over-exfoliating if you regularly take a sanding belt to your face, or if you notice tell-tale signs like noticeable dehydration, patchy areas of dryness, tight-feeling skin, itchiness, irritation, redness or increased sensitivity. Calm everything down by switching to products that are as gentle as possible and be sure to use sunscreen while skin recovers.

So if you feel in need of hard-core exfoliation, speak to a professional about treatments like microdermabrasion or chemical peels rather than scrubbing the skin off yourself in the bathroom!

Two to try…

Anti-ageing, Skin , ,

19 Replies to "Exfoliation Nation: Why You Should Scrub-A-Dub-Dub"

  • feel serious need to go and scrub face STAT.
    GREAT post Lynnie, serious detail there!

  • Oh the Buff Puff! Used it once, never again!

    Fab article. I like a gentle chemical exfoliant, loving the Nubo Glycolic cleanser used a couple of times a week.

  • I’m a firm believer in scrubs..DIY ALERT!->you can make an amazing scrub which re-hydrates and softens the skin using Olive Oil, Honey & Granulated Sugar.. it works wonders and obviously is as cheap as chips to make x

  • I swear by the REN glycolic peel. I find my complexion has improved hugely since I started using it.

    Also Elle Mcphearson does a great sugar scrub for the body. My skin feels squeeky clean but still nourished after using it

  • can anyone recommend an exfoliant with glycolic acid or retinol??

  • Guilty as charged..i use the boots gentle(ahem) facial buff with my clarins melt..shall be only using it on my elbows and knees from now on..oh and removing burnt on food from my range..

  • Great piece, very thorough!

    Lynnie – Do you think it is ok to use a muslin cloth morning and night on a daily basis?? Or is this too much? Also use an exfoliator in the week.

    REN do a lovely peppermint and jojaba exfoliator smells fabulous.

  • ilovetoshop – Use the REN glycolitic mask as well, and take it off with a muslin cloth too!! Have exfoliated before using it as well, to “prep” skin. Need to get into the habit of doing the mask weekly. Did two masks this week, one eve lom rescue (also has a bit of exfoliant in it when you masage it off) and then a REN one, sounds like I have spent most of the week exfoliating.

  • Beauty Junkie your skin must be glowing. Good idea with using the mask to prep the skin. I must remember that. I have gotten into the habit of using the mask every Sunday night whilst sitting by the fire with a glass of vino!

  • It is a great post! I exfoliate once a week, I even have some home made exfoliator recipes :) Haven’t tried them in ages though, since I have a regular income and developed an addiction to cosmetic products!

  • Exfoliation is definitely something I need to do more of, I go through phases of being really good about it, then forget for a while.

    I know you guys are big fans of Origins Modern Friction, which I purchased, but it’s actually the only skin care product I’ve ever used, which I found gave me breakouts! I don’t have sensitive skin, so I was very disappointed. I continued to use it for a while, thinking it was hormones causing it, but no joy. So I stopped using it for a few months, then went back last week and again I’ve broken out :(

    Have to find an alternative now. Would be grateful for suggestions!

  • ilovetoshop – I wish it was! Liking your idea of mask & vino, might have to adopt that ;)! How long do you usually leave yours on for, or does it vary? I left mine on longer than usual Tues night, was reading a mag and time just flew by…

    Zie – Maybe give the REN one a go? The beads in are quite small as well, and the smell is lovely

  • I normally leave the mask on for a good 30/35 mins and it works a treat

  • Thanks BeautyJunkie, will have a look for that one!

  • Thanks ilovetoshop. Think thats a good amount of time for mask and also to enjoy the vino ;)

    No problem Zie, they sell it in Clearys and Arnotts, or you can get it on their site online. They are doing a promo atm if you spend over £40 you get a free mayday rescue balm, I think they have free p&p too.

  • Ah cool, wondered if you could get it in stores in Dublin. Will have a look. The temptation to over-spend online might be too great!

  • I was actually looking into the ren glycolic peel mask last night…perfect timing. Lynnie great post so detailed!

  • I can only use Dermalogica microfoliant everything else hurts my skin!!

  • i love the clinique facial scrub, vvv scrubby so go gently with it, but its nice and minty scented too!


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