To understand what exactly exfoliation is, you will first have to understand how the skin in your body maintains itself.
Your skin has many layers. Though we are often only worried about the outer most layer, you must know that the inner layers are important as well, as they eventually move up to replace the outer skin.
The upper most layer of the skin is called the epidermis while the inner layers are called the dermis.
The function of the upper layer of the skin is to protect the body from heat, cold and various other environmental factors. When the upper layer of the skin begins to wear out, it is replaced by the inner layer, otherwise known as the dermis.
Now, as we age, this process of the inner layers of skin replacing the outer layers becomes very uneven. This is why people past their prime begin to see their skin develop rough patches, dark spots and other types of skin blotches that become visible.
Hence, when we age, we have to help the body’s natural exfoliating process with mechanical exfoliation of our own. Below, we have gone over the basics of good exfoliation and how you can do it at your home, to keep your skin looking healthy, smooth and soft.
Benefits of exfoliation
- Keeps your skin tone even and helps you fight off blemishes such as brown spots, dry spots and patches etc
- Preps your skin for night treatment creams or other skin care products, which will penetrate the skin better and be absorbed more readily
- Exfoliation will cleanse your pores and help you keep acne problems under control, if you have an acne condition
- Regular exfoliation will help you look years younger
Your face is almost always exposed to the elements and will require exfoliation on a regular basis, if you want that great looking even complexion. Now, when you exfoliate your face, you must be a little careful as facial skin is very delicate skin.
Please follow the following pointers when exfoliating the face :
- Purchase a good facial exfoliating cream that is compatible with your particular skin type. If you have oily skin, purchase a facial exfoliator that will work with oily skin. If you have dry skin, purchase an exfoliator that will work with dry skin.
- You can get some great exfoliating products from reputed brands like Philosophy, Zenmed and a few other skincare brands. Zenmed’s MicroDermabrasion complex and the Microdelivery, by Philosophy, are two excellent facial exfoliating creams
- Most of the commercially bought exfoliating creams can be used with just your fingers, without the use of loofah and brushes
- When exfoliating your face with your fingers, always work the exfoliating cream in circles. The pressure should also be gentle and just enough to create a scrubbing effort. Some people go overboard by really scrubbing their face hard, in every direction possible. Such movements will only damage the skin and make it look even more uneven
- After you have exfoliated your face, rinse off the cream completely and use a good moisturizer to protect the newly exposed skin
Exfoliation of body skin
When people think of exfoliation, they always only think about exfoliating the face and not the skin on the body. However, it is important that they pay attention to their bodily skin as well. After all, people notice skin on the legs, hands, back and chest when we expose those areas of the skin at the beach or when wearing certain styles of clothing.
Exfoliation of the bodily skin follows the same principles as facial exfoliation, with a few subtle differences. They are explained below.
- You can exfoliate your bodily skin on a daily basis by using a good quality loofah that is not too abrasive. Always apply pressure that is gentle enough to create a small amount of friction. Never overwork it as you can damage the skin
- Every once in a while, use a exfoliating body scrub along with the loofah, to get that extra exfoliating effect. Generally, such body exfoliation cream products will suggest how often they can be used. Using such creams once or twice is enough for the regular maintenance of bodily skin
- Once you have exfoliated your bodily skin, rinse it off with warm water. It is important that you don’t use hot water as really hot water can strip your newly exposed skin of a lot of moisture, causing it to dry out
- It is always good practice to moisturize your entire body after you have got out of a shower. Use one of the many body moisturizers that are available in the market today
- The skin on your feet can be a little problematic to exfoliate and might need the help of a pumice stone. A pumice stone is a stone with a slightly rough texture and it can really help keep your feet looking great, if you use it on a regular basis
Homemade exfoliation scrubs
If you don’t want to buy commercial exfoliating creams that are sold in stores, you can always whip up a homemade exfoliating scrub for both your face and body. We have gone over some homemade scrubs below.
Exfoliation scrubs for the face
Oatmeal face scrub
To make this simple but very effective facial scrub, you just have to mix in about 1 tablespoon of ground oatmeal, the steel cut kind, with 1 tablespoon of lemon juice and two tablespoons of yoghurt.
Gently work this scrub into your facial skin, using your fingers in a circular motion. What makes this exfoliating scrub special is that it can also be used as a leave on mask. Once you are done scrubbing, just leave on the remainder of the paste for about 10-15 minutes, to give yourself a great facial treatment. Rinse off with warm water to reveal beautifully rejuvenated skin.
Milk, honey and almond scrub
This is another excellent homemade exfoliation cream that can sometimes match the results of expensive store bought exfoliating creams. To make this scrub, use about 1 tablespoon of ground almonds along with milk and one tablespoon of honey. You must use about 1 tablespoon of milk. The choice of milk will depend on the skin type that you have.
If you have dry skin, use 1 tablespoon of cream. If you have normal skin, use 2% milk. If you have oily skin, use 1 tablespoon of fat free milk. Mix all the ingredients in and gently scrub the paste into your face. Remember the circular exfoliating motion. This paste can also be left on like a mask, for about 15 – 20 minutes.
Exfoliation scrubs for the body
Sugar/Salt & Oil body scrub
This is one of the most popular homemade scrubs that you can make for your bodily skin. It is also extremely effective and has been passed down through several generations of homemade skincare advice.
To make this scrub, you will need salt or sugar. The salt or the sugar will be the exfoliating agent. You will also need some oil like olive oil or coconut oil. The choice of oil can depend on your personal preference. It can be any oil as all oils have a lubricating effect, which is what they are needed for in this scrub.
You will also need a bowl to mix these two ingredients in. You can use a loofah to use this exfoliating paste or you can simply use your hands. Remember that the circular exfoliating motion rule applies to bodily skin as well.
Once you are done exfoliating, rinse off the scrub with warm water and get out of the shower. Once out of the shower, gently towel yourself in such a way that your skin is still damp. On the damp skin, use a good quality body moisturizer and lock in your skin’s moisture.
Precautions to be taken during exfoliation
- Skin exfoliation is generally not recommended for people in their teens. At that age, the body should ideally have a robust natural exfoliation system that does not need any external help. Using exfoliating creams during that age might simply slow down or impede the skin’s natural exfoliating properties
- Exfoliation can sometimes lead to sensitive skin, especially when someone has used a fairly intensive scrub or if they haven’t exfoliated their skin in a long time. If the skin continues to become irritated even after a second exfoliation after a few days, it is recommended that one stop exfoliating the skin and use a scrub that is much milder than what they tried before
- One should also never make the mistake of exfoliating the skin too often. If the facial exfoliating cream is a mild one, it can probably be used on a daily basis. Always look at the label of the exfoliating cream to figure out how often a product can be used. The same applies for body scrubs as well. There are body scrubs that can be used just once or twice in a week while there are also exfoliating body scrubs that can be used every day of the week