Exfoliation refers to the process of stripping the outermost layer of your skin comprising dead cells through the employment of chemical, physical, or enzymatic exfoliants - depending on your skin type - to improve the appearance of your skin, promote lymphatic drainage, maximise absorption of products, reinstate a healthy glow, diminish signs of ageing, and so much more. Yup, who could've thought that a build-up of dead cells on the surface of your skin is the reason behind your skin-related woes?
Yes, your skin does exfoliate itself every 30 days - much like a snake shedding its skin - but it doesn't do the greatest job each time. Sometimes it needs that added push to eliminate the build-up completely. That's where exfoliation comes in. Here's all you need to know about this basic skincare must-do!
- What are the benefits of exfoliating the skin?
- What are exfoliators? What are the types of exfoliation?
- What happens if you don't exfoliate at all?
- How can I exfoliate naturally?
What are the benefits of exfoliating the skin?
- Because the process rids your skin of build-up, the rest of your skincare/body-care formulas can penetrate the skin more effectively than before. Otherwise they'd just be sitting on the surface of your skin. And you'd never see results.
- When you exfoliate before shaving, you're ridding your skin of unnecessary build-up, and allowing your razor to glide smoothly along your skin. This is a prerequisite for a closer shave - or your razor is just overloaded with dead cells.
- Exfoliation treats acne as well as blackheads and whiteheads as it unclogs your pores by eliminating dirt and grime from them.
- It treats dark spots, hyperpigmentation, rough texture, and acne scars as it breaks down dry and dead skin, smooths your texture, and over time, makes your skin appear uniform. Now you don't have to worry about your skin appearing patchy after applying makeup.
- Since exfoliation improves blood flow, it rewards your skin with a rosy flush. And this stimulates the production of collagen as well - which helps delay signs of ageing from surfacing.
What are exfoliators? What are the types of exfoliation?
There’s no one way to exfoliate. Some exfoliators scrub the cells off your skin, and some dissolve them. Based on your skin condition/type, you can opt for either of the techniques to slough off the build-up.
Manual exfoliation includes cleansing your skin with textured products like loofahs, scrubs (granules), sponges, gloves, and cloths. These tools buff or abrade the skin's surface, and remove the build-up of dead cells. This type of exfoliation can irritate sensitive or acne-prone skin because it can cause micro-tears on the surface, and trigger inflammation. You must keep in mind a few pointers with regard to manual exfoliation. Don't scrub your skin harshly with any exfoliating tool. Remember to just massage it into your skin in gentle circular motions. Avoid opting for this method if your skin is dry or sensitive. Oily skin benefits extensively from this method. This type of exfoliation includes microdermabrasion as well. Follow this up with an oil or serum like the Lakme’ 9to5 Vitamin C+ Facial Serum to soothe the skin, and lock in moisture.
Chemical exfoliation employs another method to achieve the same end goal: fresh, healthy skin. It involves applying acids on your skin to dissolve the topmost layer of the skin to slough off dead cells. And these acids include AHAs (Alpha Hydroxy Acids) like lactic, glycolic, citric and tartaric acid that exfoliates the uppermost layers of the skin to reveal fresh and hydrated skin; and BHAs (Beta Hydroxy Acids) like acne-fighting salicylic acid that penetrates the skin thoroughly for a deep cleanse. This method is ideal for dry, sensitive skin.
This is the mildest type of exfoliation. Enzymatic exfoliation sloughs off the build-up of cells in the same way as chemical exfoliants but in a gentler, slower manner. This is because these exfoliators are sourced from enzymes, and enzymes are derived from natural sources.
What happens if you don't exfoliate at all?
- The build-up of cells doesn't just sit on the surface of your skin. It clogs the pores and leads to other skin-related issues. Exfoliation clears the pores of these cells and other build-ups and prevents the development of breakouts, blackheads, and whiteheads.
- A lack of exfoliation can trigger ingrown hair. Exfoliation, typically, assists in removing the cells, impurities, and dirt-trapping these hairs under the surface.
- You might notice dullness and patchiness on the skin too. This is triggered by damage from the sun, ageing, hormones, and other external factors that slow the generation of new cells. You need to exfoliate to rid your skin of these unwanted layers.
- Think about it. Regardless of the quality and effectiveness of the rest of your skincare formulas, lack of exfoliation prevents them from absorbing into the skin. How, then, do you redeem their benefits?
- Because exfoliation leads to dullness and dryness, your makeup will never quite flatter you, and achieving that dewy finish won't work.
- Not exfoliating allows germs and bacteria to thrive, and these conditions can lead to rashes and infections on the skin.
How can I exfoliate naturally?
You can exfoliate your skin with homemade scrubs; but the kind of scrub you choose to scrub your body/face with remains contingent on your skin type. Oily skin benefits from honey, yoghurt, and papaya; sensitive skin benefits from oatmeal or turmeric; sugar, coffee, and oatmeal are ideal for dry skin; and lemon juice and papaya are perfect for combination skin.
1. Should I exfoliate daily?
No! Everyday exfoliation isn’t recommended for any type of skin. Even though the process sloughs off dead cells from the surface of the skin, exfoliating your face/body frequently can strip away invisible layers of protective cells that maintain health as well as retain the moisture of your skin. Excessive exfoliation can lead to dryness and dehydration, inflammation and premature ageing as a result of inflammation, flaking, redness, irritation, sensitivity, and hyperpigmentation. The number of times you must exfoliate your body and face every week depends on the condition and type of your skin - most types of skin benefit from two or three exfoliating sessions every week. For the face, you can start off by exfoliating twice or thrice a week if you classify your skin type as normal. Even those with oily or acne-prone skin can exfoliate twice or thrice a week. Don’t exfoliate more than twice if your skin is extremely dry or sensitive. The same applies to combination skin. For mature skin, once a week is enough.
2. At what age should you start exfoliating?
There’s no specific age range that applies to everyone. If you’re in your teens, and you’ve started noticing that your skin is breaking out because of the onset of puberty, you can introduce exfoliation into your regimen. If you don’t develop acne, you can hold off on exfoliation until you notice dullness, spots, or roughness on the skin.