Exfoliation and Peels
Skin exfoliation is a process that removes dead cells on the skin surface and promotes faster skin flaking and shedding. Normally, people shed off dead skin cells every two to four weeks. Some dead skin cells are left behind, clogging skin pores and leading to the formation of blackheads and spots. Exfoliation prevents this from happening. The dead skin cells are thoroughly removed using a brush, loofah sponge, sea salt, or some other material to slough them off. As a result, the new, fresh, radiant skin underneath is revealed, resulting in a clearer and more glowing complexion.
Exfoliation may be done through two methods: mechanical or chemical. In mechanical skin exfoliation, very small pieces of grit are rubbed on the skin, effectively dislodging and removing dead skin cells. The grit used often comes from apricot pits and walnut shells. In chemical skin exfoliation, mild acids are used instead of grit or shrapnel. The most commonly used exfoliating acids are alpha-hydroxy, beta-hydroxy and salicylic acids.
You may use commercial exfoliating products, or visit a dermatology clinic to have an exfoliating scrub. Some people prefer to do home exfoliation themselves using simple materials such as a scrubbing sponge or loofah, exfoliating gloves, and an exfoliating cleanser. After exfoliation, thorough rinsing is important, followed by moisturizing. It is essential to use a good moisturizer because exfoliating dries out the skin. On dry skin, wrinkles are likely to form, and no one wants this. Moisturizing is especially important if the person exfoliates regularly.
Skin exfoliation may be done on the whole body, or on a specific part such as the face. Because the face is more delicate, facial skin exfoliation should be done with care and only facial products should be used. You also should be careful when exfoliating sensitive areas such as the neck and thighs.
The products used for exfoliation will depend on the person’s skin type and condition, his age, and his budget for the procedure. If one has sensitive skin, it is best to consult a dermatologist first to avoid damaging his skin.
A deeper form of skin exfoliation is called microdermabrasion. Again, this may be done at home for greater affordability, or in a skin care facility for better and longer-lasting results. Although there are effective over-the-counter microdermabrasion products available, it is believed that they only dust away superficial dead skin cells to expose a fresher, shinier complexion. With professional microdermabrasion, there is deeper exfoliation as the outer dead layer of skin is effectively removed. The dermatologist uses a small device that blasts crystals on the skin to loosen the dead skin cells, and then suctions back the crystals together with the dead skin cells. Several sessions may be required for complete microdermabrasion, but the end results are guaranteed to bring great satisfaction.
Chemical peels are another popular exfoliation procedure done in clinics and health spas. They often use salicylic acid or beta hydroxy acid, which not only exfoliates but also helps to remove pimples and blackheads. After a chemical peel, the rejuvenated skin looks very healthy and radiant.
During a chemical peel, a solution is applied on the skin, dissolving the uppermost layers which contain dead skin cells and accumulated dirt and makeup. As these superficial skin layers are dissolved, the body’s healing response is stimulated, the same way when there is a wound or breakage on the skin. New tissue then emerges, and when this fresh skin is revealed, the complexion is much clearer and rosier.
There are many types of chemical peels available. They vary in depth and strength, depending on the chemicals used and how long they are allowed to sit on the skin. Aside from salicylic acid, other chemicals used in peels are phenol, trichloroacetic acid (TCA), and glycolic acid. Phenol peels are very strong, and they are usually applied on deeply wrinkled or aged skin.
The strongest and deepest peels remove the whole surface of the skin, and produce an effect similar to that of laser skin treatments. Laser treatments, however, are considered safer because they are more precise and more easily controlled. Laser treatments have practically replaced deep chemical peels these days.
Whether a person chooses mild exfoliation, microdermabrasion or a chemical peel, he is sure to get clearer and more radiant skin as a result.