What You Should Know About Exfoliating
Exfoliating—when you hear the word, you probably either think, “Yup! I do that! Yay me!” or you think, “Eeeh. I should get on that.” Do exfoliators deserve gold stars from their dermatologists? Should those who skip on the habit be scolded? The answer to that depends on so many things. Simply grabbing a semi-rough object and rubbing it against your skin doesn’t give you points for exfoliating. If you don’t know what you’re doing, you could accidentally do more harm than good. But, if you exfoliate properly, you might be the envy of your friends who, in a couple of decades, ask, “How come we’re the same age but you look so much younger?” So, before buying a bulk pack of loofahs or any expensive product boasting microbeads, get the facts. Here is what you should know about exfoliating.
You need to replace your loofahs
Don’t just buy a loofah and stick to it for years. Not only will it gather nasty bacteria, but it will also become soft and less effective over time. Loofahs should be replaced around every month.
You can’t just use a face wash
While your face wash may contain exfoliating beads, it’s not all you need. Those beads can break up and loosen stubborn, old dead cells that have been holding on. But it can’t pull them off of your face the way a loofah can.
You can’t just use a loofah or scrub
You also can’t rely solely on a loofah to remove dead skin cells. You do need the power of an exfoliating wash or serum to first loosen the cells, so that the loofah can then remove them. So for the best results, use a serum and a loofah, combined.
What is mechanical exfoliation?
There are two main ways to exfoliate. Let’s start with mechanical, in which you exfoliate your skin using a device like a loofah. Through this, you use the rough texture to scuff off old dead cells.
What is chemical exfoliation?
Chemical exfoliation relies on chemicals like salicylic acid or lactic acid to essentially loosen and break the glue that holds old skin cells together.
Which is best?
If you have sensitive skin, or are already treating acne with harsh products, you should lean on mechanical exfoliating, and go gently on your skin. Chemical exfoliants can be too harsh when combined with acne washes.
Try loofah gloves
If you’re going with mechanical exfoliation, try an exfoliating glove. As it sounds, this item fits on your hand like a glove, giving each of your digits the power to get into crevices on your face and exfoliate. It’s also easier to control the pressure with a glove than it is with a loofah.
Why your homemade mask won’t work
You may have tried rubbing coffee grounds or granulated sugar against your skin to exfoliate dead cells. If you noticed softer skin, it was probably just the moisturizer in your homemade mask. But you ultimately need salicylic acid or urea to actually go deep into your skin and remove dead cells.
Where do you get those ingredients?
You’ll have to ask your dermatologist that, because you can’t buy them wholesale and they are expensive. In other words, you’re best off buying a product on the market for exfoliation.
There is such thing as overdoing it
Exfoliating is rough on your skin—literally. If you do it too much, you can irritate your skin and cause more damage than good. Remember that exfoliating helps your products go deeper into your skin, but that can be a problem if you over exfoliate and use potent products.
How often should you do it?
Those with normal skin can exfoliate once or twice a week. Those with dry skin should cut back to once a week or less. Those with oily skin can ramp it up to a few times a week.
Do it before applying products
Again, the whole purpose of exfoliating is to remove dead cells that are blocking your products from reaching into your pores. So, if you wait to exfoliate until after putting that pricey serum on your face, the serum won’t do all that it can. In fact, you’ll just remove it.
Those with certain skin conditions should be careful
If you have eczema, psoriasis, acne, or keratosis pilaris consult a dermatologist before exfoliating. She will probably recommend a very gentle exfoliator or skipping the task altogether.
Experiment with water temperature
If you’re finding that exfoliating is irritating your skin, consider taking shorter and colder showers. Spending a long time in hot water can open your pores too much, and make the exfoliating action too harsh on your skin.
It’s very important that you moisturize after you exfoliate. While you remove dead skin cells, you also remove some of your natural moisture, and some of the barrier that traps your natural moisture in your pores. So always, always use a moisturizer after exfoliating.