Pictured: a drawing of a cross section of human skin. Our skin is made up of many many layers - each having a vital function.
I'm not going to go through all of the layers in this post. Today, we're (literally) going to be skimming the surface – the topmost layer – the epidermis (which also has several layers, but I'm only going to get a little teensy bit technical – promise).
30 Days To DieOur skin is constantly renewing itself. It takes approximately 30 days for a skin cell to have served its purpose on the epidermis. After that time, the cell dies, dries up, and hardens, and – if all is as it should be – is shed from the skin.
But sometimes, dead skin cells will outstay their welcome, making it harder for the new skin cells to emerge and for you to look your best.
Looking at the slice of skin above , one could be tempted to think new skin cells start from the bottom and travel through all the layers to the top before they are shed, but that's not how it works. In general, each layer of the skin 'does its own thing' when it comes to cell development.
Having dead skin cells hanging around where they're not needed any more happens to all of us, and for numerous reasons: exposure to polluted air, diet, having oily skin, stress, and even the weather can be an influence.
What Exfoliation DoesExfoliation helps shed dead skin cells and stimulate circulation, which in turn encourages new cell growth. The real bonus is that exfoliated skin is far more receptive to moisturisers. Overall, it helps give your skin a healthier glow.
What Exfoliation Doesn'tAs beneficial as exfoliation is, it is not a miracle cure. Exfoliating won't magically cause a fresh layer of skin to appear. Neither will it remove wrinkles, or turn back the clock. Overdoing it is not a good idea.
Physical or ChemicalExfoliation can be achieved using scrubs of different types (physical) or using chemicals of different types. Scrubs can be organic (such as mother of pearl powder) or inorganic (such as plastic 'beads'). Chemical exfoliants are often alpha-hydroxy-acids, glycolic, lactic, and malic acids.
The Stronger The Better?With all of the exfoliating options available, one could be tempted to think 'if gentle exfoliation is good, then stronger exfoliation must be better'.
Unfortunately, that just doesn't apply.
Using the strongest exfoliating method is not better for the skin. Quite the contrary, if overdone, it can have devastating consequences.
Artistotle's famous phrase 'all things in moderation' applies perfectly to exfoliation.