Exfoliation is often considered an “added” step beyond the basics when it comes to home care. It can often be overlooked or forgotten, since it requires a time commitment and knowledge of how and why you should exfoliate.
Ask any skincare professional and they will likely say it’s a critical step within a facial treatment and at home! So, let’s review some of the top reasons why you should exfoliate.
1. Exfoliation encourages the cell regeneration process, removing dull surface cells.
The Skin Cell Journey
Cell regeneration, often referred to as cell turnover and renewal, refers to the cell’s life cycle. This is a continuous, natural process that occurs within our skin and body that’s imperative for skin health.
Skin cells are “born” (cell division occurs), in the deepest layer of the epidermis (the base layer). The young skin cell is filled with approximately 80% moisture. It begins its journey upward and travels through the layers of the epidermis until it reaches the uppermost (top) layer.
During the transition from the layers below into the top layer, the skin cell loses its nucleus. This causes the structure of the skin cell to change. Its moisture content is diminished and it is filled with keratin, making it thicker and harder.
As older surface cells shed, fresh cells rise to the surface to replace them.
Cell Turnover Rates
In a perfect world, there would not necessarily be a major need for us to help it along. But, as we age, this process decelerates.
You may wonder, how long does it take my skin cells to complete this process? Do I really need to use an exfoliant if my skin cells naturally exfoliate on their own? Here’s an average timeline of cell turnover/renewal rates:
- Children: approximately 2 weeks
- Teens: approximately 3-4 weeks
- Adulthood: approximately 30-40+ days (up to age 50) and about 45-90 days (after age 50)
A general way to approximate how long it takes your skin cells to complete this process, is to take your age (in years) and add about a week to that.
Slower cell turnover and renewal rates can lead to dull, lackluster skin with an uneven surface in addition to other skin conditions like breakouts, which we will mention later on. Incorporating exfoliation helps to speed this process along, encouraging new, fresh cells to the surface which leads to a smoother, more radiant complexion. Try Pumpkin Enzyme Scrub, which gently works to remove dull surface cells and softens skin.
2. Exfoliation breaks up areas of discoloration for brighter skin.
Melanin, created by melanocyte cells, is the natural pigment responsible for the color of our eyes, hair and skin. Melanocyte cells can overproduce melanin in response to stimulation from different factors including sun exposure, skin trauma, injury, hormones and medications.
This melanin-producing response creates darkening of the skin, often referred to as hyperpigmentation. For instance, the shadow mark left behind after a breakout, called Post-Inflammatory Hyperpigmentation, is an example of skin discoloration that occurs in response to skin trauma/irritation.
Regardless of the cause of hyperpigmentation, sun exposure can exacerbate it. That’s why the top product for anyone with hyperpigmentation concerns is sunscreen. Daily sunscreen will help with a major part of the concern: not stimulating the production of additional melanin.
But, what about the existing areas of hyperpigmentation? That’s where exfoliation comes in. Exfoliation will help to break up areas of discoloration, helping slough away hyperpigmented cells, resulting in brightened skin and a more even complexion. Try Brightening Polish to remove dull surface cells and allow absorption of natural, effective brighteners.
And, if you use products with brightening ingredients, like a serum, exfoliation will help aid in that product being more effective, see below for more info at reason #4.
3. Exfoliation removes debris from follicles to keep skin clear (aka breakout-free).
As discussed in reason #1 above, skin cells have a life cycle. Upon completion, they shed in order to allow fresh cells to rise to the surface. In addition to aging slowing this process, other factors can hinder the release (shedding) of skin cells.
Some contributors occur naturally, like our own oil production, and others we play a role in, like improper removal of skincare and makeup products. When oil and debris mix with dead skin cells, they can work their way into follicles and become trapped. This can lead to congested skin and acne, including non-inflamed breakouts, called comedones or blackheads, and inflamed breakouts.
If you experience regular breakouts, you should consider giving exfoliation a try. By helping clear debris, excess oil and dead skin cells from follicles and skin’s surface, you may have found the key that unlocks the door to clearer skin. Gentle Enzyme Exfoliant will support the skin’s natural exfoliation process using enzymes and fruit acids, all while free of fragrance and dyes.
4. Exfoliation helps skincare products absorb more easily.
Dull surface cells are thick and can be more dry. Once they shed, products applied will have an easier time penetrating and absorbing. In addition, they will absorb more evenly.
Exfoliation helps you get more out of your products in two ways: first, since products have an easier time penetrating, that helps to increase their effectiveness and since they absorb more evenly, you may end up using less of your products, so you get more uses out of them!
5. After exfoliation, makeup applies seamlessly, looks more natural.
Once dull surface cells shed, the resulting fresh cells that replace them create a smoother, softer, more uniform surface. Anything you apply on top, like makeup products, will lay more seamlessly and create a more natural-looking finish. Try an exfoliant like Refresh Facial Polish to clear pores and remove dead skin cells, for smooth makeup application.