Our skin naturally sheds dead skin cells every 30 days to give rise to new healthy cells. Often, these dead skin cells do not shed completely on their own.
Hence, your skin appears dry, flaky, and your pores become clogged. This is where exfoliating comes into the picture.
Exfoliating refers to the process of removing dead skin cells from your skin. It could be either by using a chemical, granular substance, or an exfoliation tool.
“Exfoliating” is taking trend in the beauty world, especially in recent years. But you’ve tried it yourself and ended up with swollen and dried out skin instead. Or you just didn't see any changes.
So, does it work? Or is it another trend that’s come to pass? Do you need to exfoliate to get youthful, glowing skin?
What Does Exfoliating Do for Your Skin?
Skin exfoliation has numerous benefits. Stating the obvious first, but removing the dead skin cells will make your skin feel smoother, softer, and more supple than before.
This is because your skin is now free from all the buildup of dirt, oil, and microbes, along with the dead cells.
This buildup is responsible for clogging your pores and making your skin look dull. Without exfoliation, these clogged pores can lead to acne breakouts.
Exfoliation also promotes blood circulation to the face and makes your skin look more radiant in addition to the softness and suppleness.
It can also improve the effectiveness of topical skincare products due to enhanced absorption. In the long run, it can help in increasing the production of collagen protein. This protein promotes skin elasticity, minimizes the appearance of fine lines, and keeps the skin firm.
How Does Exfoliation Work
The basic idea behind exfoliation is the removal of dead skin cells on our skin to unlock brighter skin. Dead skin cells accumulate, clog up your pores, and cause your skin texture to turn rough.
Every 30 days or so, your skin goes through a cycle where it sheds the older skin cells and makes way for new skin. These older skin cells are the dead skin cells that are often referred to. But sometimes these skin cells do not shed properly and cause issues like clogging which leads to blackheads and acne.
Should You Exfoliate Your Skin? What happens if you don’t exfoliate?
But, how important is exfoliating? One of the biggest factors to consider is aging. As we grow older, the cell turnover rate can slow down and end up causing layers of dead skin cells to form on your facial skin.
You may notice a duller skin complexion in the beginning stages. But as it gets worse, your skin's natural renewal process can get affected. This can trigger further complications like excess oiliness and bacterial infections especially if you have sensitive skin.
The clogged pores and blackheads can cause more permanent damage like scarring and blemishes. Signs of aging like wrinkling and age spots can also get more pronounced.
Yes. You should definitely exfoliate, but not with the traditional methods.
Which Is the Best Type of Exfoliation for Me?
There are 2 main types of exfoliation, and the best type of exfoliation for you would depend on certain factors.
A physical exfoliant is one in which you need to manually scrub the product on your face and body. Examples include cleansing scrubs, exfoliating mitts, pumice stones, and loofahs, among others.
You can use this at home to get rid of the dead cells.
If done incorrectly, it may irritate your skin. Be gentle and always follow it up with a humectant to seal in the moisture.
Chemical exfoliants use different chemicals, like hydroxy acids and retinol. Like physical exfoliants, they too can irritate the skin and damage it.
- Alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) are water-soluble acids. Examples include glycolic acid, lactic acid, citric acid, tartaric acid, and malic acid. According to the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) and polyhydroxy acids (PHAs) enhance skin cell turnover rate by lightly exfoliating skin. These can also help in resolving other skin concerns like age spots, melasma, large pores, fine lines, and wrinkles, as well as uneven skin tone. They work by peeling away the top layer of skin so that new skin cells can take their place.
- Beta hydroxy acids (BHAs) are oil-soluble acids. They work by drying out excess oils and dead skin cells to unclog your pores. Examples include salicylic acid, tropic acid, etc.
- Retinoids are vitamin A derivatives used to soothe sun-damaged skin, treat acne, and reduce the signs of aging by protecting your skin from free radicals and promoting collagen production. Examples include retinol, tretinoin, adapalene, etc.
How Often Should I Exfoliate?
The frequency of exfoliation primarily depends on your specific skin type. Certain skin types need it more than others.
If you have oily skin, you can exfoliate 3 to perhaps even 4 times a week. For normal to dry skin, exfoliate once or twice a week. For sensitive skin, you may want to exfoliate once every 8 to 9 days.
You should also keep in mind other factors like temperature, air quality, hormones, and age when deciding the frequency of exfoliation.
For example, on days you sweat more, it is easier for your pores to get clogged, and hence you may need to exfoliate more frequently as compared to days when you do not sweat as much.
What Is the Correct Way to Exfoliate?
While exfoliating has numerous benefits when done correctly, the incorrect method can lead your skin to become more damaged and irritated.
That is why you should keep in mind a few things to exfoliate the correct way. I have explained them below.
Do Not Scrub
Instead of scrubbing or rubbing the exfoliant on your skin which can aggravate and irritate your skin, be gentle and firm while massaging the exfoliant in circular motions on your face.
Understand your skin and its requirements. Over-exfoliating can cause additional problems like inflammation.
Quality Over Quantity
Keep in mind that you do not need generous amounts of exfoliant to make sure that you are getting rid of all the dead cells.
A little goes a long way when it comes to exfoliating. You only need enough to create a thin layer on your face and massage it on.
Physical Vs Chemical Exfoliants
For specific skin concerns, you may want to consider gentle chemical exfoliants. They can be more effective at targeting skin issues. Physical exfoliants are usually suitable for all skin types.
Many “exfoliant” products contain ingredients that are too rough for your skin and do not provide sufficient instructions for optimum use.
Exfoliating with an aggressive scrub may be okay if you do not have any underlying skin issues. But the reality is that many of us have some sort of complication like breakouts, dryness, or oiliness.
This is why it’s important to see the ingredients in your exfoliating product. Humans are not perfect and even a “normal” skin care ingredient can prove to be too harsh for the skin.
We recommend going for more gentle products that are made to minimize irritation on your skin and reduce excess moisture loss.
How Can I Exfoliate My Face? WOW Apple Cider Vinegar Foaming Face Wash
Wondering what is the best face exfoliator?
Being gentle while exfoliating is one of the most important things to avoid irritating your skin. The frequency and most suitable type of exfoliation depending on your skin type and its requirements.
One exfoliant I know for a fact can work well for any skin type is mentioned below.
WOW Ubtan Face & Body Scrub is a mix of natural botanicals suitable for all skin types. Infused with almond, walnut powder, chickpea flour, rose water, saffron extract, and other ingredients to exfoliate dry and dead skin cells.
It supports the skin renewal process, helps in restoring the skin’s natural radiance and suppleness, and aid in smoothing and softening your skin.
Use this scrub once a week to get your glow back.
Take a small quantity and rub it in circular motions on your face and body. Exfoliate for 2 to 3 minutes and rinse thoroughly with water.
The WOW Apple Cider Vinegar Foaming Face Wash is yet another good option. It’s a perfect facial pore cleanser that comes with a silicone brush to help cleanse, exfoliate, and heal your skin back to flawless, supple skin.
The silicone brush is specially made to gently remove dead skin cells without aggravating the skin barrier.
We use a natural cleansing formula infused with apple cider vinegar that dissolves and washes away dead skin cells, allowing your pores to breathe. We also included hydrating ingredients like Aloe Vera Extract for soothing and keeping your skin healthy
An exfoliant cannot do much on its own if it isn't followed with the right products. Use a gentle cleanser before exfoliating, and moisturizer and sunscreen the day after.