To help you get smooth skin from head to toe, Inspirations & Celebrations’ Beauty Contributor Alana Mitchell (a licensed esthetician and skin care expert) shares her must-read advice on how to incorporate exfoliation into your skin care regimen, in addition to the benefits of using different types of exfoliating treatments.
Guide to Exfoliation
Do you want to incorporate exfoliation into your skin care routine, but don’t know where to start? This skin care guide is here to clear up any confusion so you can achieve clearer, brighter skin!
Exfoliation all over your body – not just on your face – is so important. It rids your skin of excess dead skin cells and regenerates existing ones. It also helps other skin care products get absorbed more quickly. Plus, it’s good for prepping your skin before shaving.
However, over-exfoliation can actually be too harsh and worsen your skin’s appearance. So, it’s advisable to learn the proper way to exfoliate different body parts, in addition to understanding your skin type.
With this skincare guide, you’ll be on your way to becoming an expert at skin exfoliation and get your skin looking its best. Let’s explore the ins-and-outs of exfoliation together!
Are There Different Ways to Exfoliate?
Depending on your skin’s needs and skin type, there are a number of different options for exfoliation including:
- Granular Scrubs: Over-the-counter body washes and facial cleansers can contain tiny granules that remove dead skin when applied in gentle circular motions. The granules should be fine and round, like a sugar scrub – NOT jagged. A good rule of thumb is to avoid nut shells (i.e. walnuts) and fruit pits, as they can cause microscopic tears in the skin.
- Microdermabrasion: The microdermabrasion machine uses tiny crystals, a diamond tip, or even a vacuum to remove dead skin cells from your face. New, healthy skin cells replace the old ones, leaving you with bright, smooth skin. This procedure should be done by a dermatologist or esthetician.
- Dermaplaning: Although similar to microdermabrasion, dermaplaning goes deeper by using a scalpel to gently scrape off dead skin cells on your face. This procedure should also be done by a dermatologist or esthetician.
- Loofahs: Great for those hard-to-reach areas on your body (not for your face!), loofahs are used in the bath or shower. Gently rub in circular motions and focus on your elbows, knees, heels, and the soles of your feet. Remember to replace your loofah every 3-4 weeks, and hang it to dry in a well-ventilated area to prevent the growth of mold and bacteria.
- Pumice Stones: A pumice stone is an excellent tool for removing stubborn dead skin from elbows, knees, heels, and the soles of your feet. Again, rub gently. Treat yourself to a pedicure while you’re at it! You can keep your pumice stone until it disintegrates – just be sure to sanitize it by putting it in boiling water or scrubbing it with liquid dish detergent.
- Peels: Performed by a dermatologist or esthetician, chemical peels use alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs), beta hydroxy acids (BHAs), or retinoic acids to aid in cell turnover. They’re not as harsh as they sound. In actuality, peels help you get bright, smooth facial skin (for a “glowy” effect).
- Masks: Face masks with chemical ingredients can be used at home – just be sure to follow the instructions! Look for masks with citric acid, lactic acid, salicylic acid, glycolic acid, or mandelic acid – all of which are excellent exfoliants.
- Brushes: Electronic cleansing brushes with gentle bristles are an easy way to give your skin some radiance. Different types are available for your face and body but don’t use too much pressure.
Exfoliation & Your Skin Type
I’ve been asked this question thousands of times: “How often should I exfoliate for my skin type?” I recommend 1-2 times a week. However, if you’re prone to redness and irritation, I suggest once a week.
You can choose different ways to exfoliate at home, with cleanser or a face mask. If you notice any irritation, give your skin a break. My personal favorite is this apricot exfoliating cleanser from Epicuren because it smells divine and brightens up my complexion without being too harsh.
Benefits of Skin Exfoliation
Immediately after exfoliation, results become apparent. By removing the top layer of dead skin cells, your skin can look brighter and feel smoother. Topical treatments, such as moisturizer, become more effective as they penetrate deeper. Exfoliation also helps to stimulate circulation in your blood vessels.
Long-term benefits of exfoliation can include a boost in collagen production, which leads to younger-looking skin. Exfoliation is especially beneficial if you have premature fine lines and wrinkles (due to UV exposure or lifestyle), and for those who suffer from non-inflammatory acne (like blackheads and whiteheads).
- Don’t go overboard
For more aggressive procedures, like chemical peels or microdermabrasion, exfoliating a few times at your dermatologist’s office every couple of weeks is sufficient.
- Pay attention to product labels
If you’re buying over-the-counter, check the chemical ingredients for a low acid concentration. You don’t need more than 10 percent glycolic acid or 2 percent salicylic acid.
- Questions? Ask your dermatologist
If you’re still unsure of the best way to proceed with exfoliation, ask a board-certified dermatologist.
Exfoliation is a great step to add to your skincare regimen, and by following the expert advice in this skin care guide, we’re confident that you’ll see positive results.
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BEAUTY CONTRIBUTOR: Alana Mitchell
For over 14 years, Alana Mitchell (a licensed esthetician, beauty & skin care blogger, and mother of two), has sold over 300 lines of the highest of quality skin care lines through her store skincarebyalana.com. As a beauty contributor to Inspirations & Celebrations, Alana shares her insight and knowledge about skin care, personal care, and body treatments.
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[Image credits: Alexandru Zdrobău. Disclosure: Affiliate links included.]