Healthy Exfoliation – part 1

Why do we need to exfoliate?

Cellular turnover
When we are younger, our “dead” or mature skin cells migrate to the surface of our skin and slough off on their own every 14 days or so. As we age, this process slows down in order to prevent the epidermis from thinning too much due to a decrease in antioxidants produced by our body. However, we now know that we can supplement our bodies and our skin with antioxidants from plants. So if we are supplementing our system properly, our epidermis doesn’t have to slow it’s natural exfoliation process. Unfortunately, evolution hasn’t quite caught up with this newfound knowledge, so we are taught that in order to keep the same rate of cellular turnover we had when we were younger, we need to exfoliate. Exfoliating our skin will help to send a message that the epidermis needs more skin cells, and so the cellular turnover process is “jump started”.

Ingredient penetration
After we exfoliate our skin (or remove the outer most layer), we clear the way for nutrients to be absorbed
more readily in through our pores. This makes the creams and serums we use more potent. However, it must also be said that when we exfoliate we are removing our outer most layer – of protection – so our skin is more readily susceptible to bacterial invasion, sun damage and toxins from our environment. It is important to make sure we are only exfoliating when necessary and that we are properly nourishing and protecting our skin in the process.

Skin texture
Of course our skin feels wonderful after a nice scrub, right? When we exfoliate our skin, we are helping even out our skin texture at the very surface. This is merely a temporary pleasure – and the main reason why so many of us become addicted to exfoliation.
Skin smoothness can also be achieved (and more permanently I might add) with proper supplementation and hydration internally and topically.

Pore cleansing
Using a gentle scrub or enzyme wash can help with deep cleansing of the skin as it removes any surface debris that might be hanging on a little tightly to the pores or caught amongst dead skin cells. Note that the more you exfoliate the skin, the more oil your skin will want to produce as a protective measure, so moderation is the key!

Over-Exfoliation
Skin Over-Exfoliation has taken on many shapes and sizes over the last 30 years, but the basic model has always been the same – to set up an inflammatory response that will force the skin into emergency cell renewal. We are promised baby skin and great reduction in fine lines, scars and hyper pigmented spots via acid and chemical peels, laser resurfacing and microdermabrasion.

Why then, are we still aging – and furthermore, why are we now having more issues with sun sensitivity, hyperpigmentation and rosacea? Is it just a coincidence? We are peeling, scrubbing and dermabrading our skin more than ever before, and at a faster rate (thanks to laser technology) yet the results always seem to be temporary and cause other problems for the skin: dryness, sensitivity, thinning…to name a few.

Do we need to rethink the basic model of professional skin care?

written by Jennifer Laz, Licensed Esthetician, bien-être spa

For the answer…see part 2 of this series!

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