Have you ever had one of those days where you look in the mirror and wondered what happened in the night? Your skin looks dull and dry making you feel like digging out your favourite sweat top, closing the curtains and veg'ing out watching box sets on On Demand.
Well stop it! Dull skin is part of life; dry skin is part of life. As we age the ability to shed dead skin cells and generate new ones slows down leaving us declaring certain days as 'no mirror days'. But fear not, regardless of nature letting us down, we can kick start the cycle again through the process of exfoliation.
When taking care of our skin we know that we should cleanse and the importance of moisturising (especially with a spf) has been drummed into us, but somehow along the way we missed out just how vital it is to exfoliate.
The thing is exfoliation is probably the most important of the steps to healthy, youthful skin. Got dry skin? Exfoliate. Got dull skin? Exfoliate. Got Spots? Exfoliate. Got hyperpigmentation, seasonally damaged skin, oily skin? Exfoliate.
This is because the purpose of exfoliation is to remove the dead skin that is not shedding as quickly and evenly as before, clearing the way for new fresh skin to emerge. The result: brighter, glowing, youthful skin.
When we do not exfoliate our pores can become clogged. This is because the dead, loose skin cells that are hanging on cover the pores, trapping oils, which results in blemishes. When faced with blemishes you may reach for cleansers designed to remove oil and treat acne. However, some of these products are too harsh and can actually create excess dry skin that then clogs pores, which results in blemishes. Exfoliation will work deep down unclogging pores and reducing the outbreak of blemishes.
Through exfoliation you can reduce the visible signs of hyperpigmentation caused by pregnancy, hormonal changes or genetics. Exfoliation breaks up the pigmented cells causing the brown spots to fade.
In order to really get the best skin health you should get a professional treatment at least once a month, but even then you need to follow it up with a great home skincare routine.
So you're at home, what should you do? First you should determine what type of exfoliant you need. They come under 2 categories: Physical and Chemical.
Chemical exfoliants often come in the form of cleansers, serums or lotions. They contain active ingredients that are able to penetrate the skins surface aiding the skin renewal process from deep within. The active ingredients to look out for are Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHA) or Beta Hydroxy Acids (BHA).
The most common of AHAs are Glycolic Acid and Lactic Acid. For BHAs look out for Salicylic Acid. With chemical exfoliants you get additional benefits because they also aid in the reduction of wrinkles, they stimulate the production of collagen and leave you with firmer skin.
AHAs are ideal for sun damaged and dry skins. BHAs are recommended for Oily acne prone skin. This is because they are able to get through clogged pores and so are ideal for dealing with blackheads and white bumps.
Physical exfoliants are just that, you need to do the work. Unlike Chemical exfoliants, they typically work on the surface of the skin, this means they will not penetrate any deeper. They most commonly come in the form of scrubs. Avoid exfoliating scrubs described as 'natural' which use ingredients such as, apricot pits or Walnut husks. These large grains can often do more harm than good to the skin causing lacerations and irritation.
To get the best results choose a fine grained physical exfoliating scrub that contains a chemical exfoliant. Once you have decided which is best for you, you should aim to exfoliate at least once or twice a week to stay on top of your skins health.
Begin by cleansing the skin, for the best results choose a cleanser that contains a chemical exfoliant such as Dermalogica Skin Resurfacing Cleanser. Follow this with your chosen exfoilant, the Dermalogica Daily Microfoliant, as titled, can be used daily and contains rice enzymes that micro-exfoliate the dead skin away but it also contains Salicylic Acid (BHA) so the ingredients penetrate deep into the skins layers. It comes in a powder form and when mixed with water the ingredients are activated. It goes on smooth and is gentle enough for even sensitive skins but it works hard. For even better results, pair this up with Dermalogica Daily Resurfacer, use this 'leave on' exfoliant at night, each dose is packed with AHA's and BHA's. Remember to exfoliate the skin using circular motions.
Always moisturise after.
Over exfoliation - Yes, it can occur. But there is no hard and fast rule when it comes to frequency, everybody's skin is different. Some people can exfoliate every day, every other day or twice weekly. If you have over exfoliated, your skin will let you know. Look out for redness, irritation, tightness, dry, flaking skin or burning/stinging sensation. But don't worry there is no lasting damage, just reduce the frequency with which you exfoliate or change the type of exfoliant you are using.