Exfoliation - When & Why
Skin cells are continuously dying and regenerating
Imagine your skin functions like a cog in a machine. The younger skin is deep in the epidermis, it is sensitive and raw. Over time it moves to the surface and dies. The top layer of our skin is strong, dead, and serves an important role for the human body in protection and water balance. After death, the skin cells will dry and flake off creating the majority of dust in your home. (ew)
Like any machine, as it gets older it needs to be maintained. The life-death process of the skin is about 28 days until we turn about 25, at which point it slows down. When the skin gets older it doesn't shed its dead cells as efficiently. Sometimes the dead skin will pile up on the skin's surface creating the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.
Two Common Reasons to Exfoliate:
- Remove excess dead skin and smooth out fine lines, reducing the signs of aging. This can be done through physical or chemical exfoliation.
- Penetrate deep into the younger skin to clean dirt or infection. Note: this is done only through chemical exfoliation.
Types of Exfoliation
Using abrasive ingredients topically to remove dead skin. Examples include DIY scrubs using fine foods (sugar, herbs, crushed apricot kernels, almond shells, or coffee grounds), derma-rollers, micro-fiber cloths, loofahs, brushes, and our choice: Konjac sponges.
Physical Exfoliation is abrasive and sometimes damaging. DO NOT use abrasive ingredients to scrub away acne, or eczema. This will cause the irritation to spread and is not the best method of treatment.
Konjac Sponges are gentle, rich in minerals and vitamins and natural. They are derived from a potato root fiber in Korea and are our choice for physical exfoliation.
Using chemical ingredients such as alpha-hydroxy acids (AHAs), beta-hydroxy acids (BHAs), or enzymes to loosen the bonds that hold dead skin cells together (aka dry skin). This helps to promote the growth of healthier skin cells by way of the dermis.
Chemical Exfoliation is defined by its occurrence due to tot a chemical reaction on the skin. In the world of skincare, this is often a synthetic (man-made) and toxic process but it does not have to be.
Note: A chemical ingredient does not equal a toxic ingredient. Remember, everything is a chemical. Water has a chemical formula, as does your tears, as does ammonia, as does anti-freeze. It is important to understand how to differentiate between toxic chemical ingredients and non-toxic chemical ingredients.
How Chemical Exfoliation Works
Chemical Exfoliation occurs due to the reaction of one or both of the following ingredients reacting with the skin.
Alpha-Hydroxy Acids (AHAs): naturally occurring in sugar cane (glycolic acid), milk products and tomato juice (lactic acid), bananas, apples, nectarines, pears (malic acid), citrus juices and fruits (citric acid), and grapes, apples, tamarind (tartaric acid).
Alpha-Hydroxy Acids loosen the dead skin cells from the surface of the skin making them easy to wipe/wash away. The Apple Toner is rich in Alpha-Hydroxy Acids.
Beta-Hydroxy Acids (BHAs): naturally in fresh fruit (berries, pineapple, papaya), yogurt, wintergreen leaves, sweet birch and some other plants. Structurally, BHAs appear similar to AHAs and have similar activities on the skin. However, AHA’s are more commonly used for epidermal exfoliation and anti-aging ingredients, and BHA’s are more commonly used for preventing acne eruptions and smoothing the skin.
While there are several types of BHAs, there is only one commonly found in skincare products, and that is salicylic acid. It is commonly used for acne prone skin and treating black heads. Salicylic acid penetrates the skin’s natural oils (sebum), thoroughly cleaning out clogged pores that cause whiteheads and blackheads.
Now when you read ingredients on skin care products and you recognize citric acid, malic acid, and salicylic acid you can understand WHY those ingredients are there.