Regular exfoliation is one of the things you can do to help transform your skin to a younger, healthier look. Deriving its name from Latin, “exfoliation” means “to peel off leaves,” and for centuries people have been peeling off the layer of dead skin cells using various exfoliation methods.
The skin is the largest organ of the body and acts as a protective barrier for everything that lies underneath – including muscles, blood vessels, bone, etc. As the body’s first line of defense, the skin can take on quite a bit of punishment from the environment, leaving it dry and dull. When you exfoliate, you are removing the dead skin cells from the upper layer of the skin, revealing the young, healthy cells underneath and encouraging new skin growth.
There are a number of reasons to consider incorporating regular exfoliation into your skincare routine:
- Exfoliating reduces the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.
- Skin appears brighter, fresher and healthier after exfoliating.
- Exfoliating prior to using a treatment product allows the active ingredients to better penetrate the skin.
- Exfoliating helps to unclog pores, which can prevent acne breakouts.
- Exfoliating speeds up the cell renewal process.
There are many ways to exfoliate, including scrubs, masks, brushes and microdermabrasion devices. Since everyone’s skin is different, with varying sensitivity, I recommend starting with an over-the-counter scrub or mask first and monitoring how your skin reacts. Once you know your skin isn’t highly sensitive to exfoliating, you may wish to move on to trying other exfoliating tools and professional treatments.
For a transformative experience, include exfoliation in your regular skincare regimen one to three times a week. But as with any kind of skin treatment, always be observant of your skin’s reactions when you exfoliate. If you are experiencing unusual redness or irritation following exfoliating, it might be time for a gentler exfoliant.
And don’t forget to use liberal amounts of your favorite moisturizer and sunscreen following exfoliation. Now that you have removed the top layer of dead skin cells, your skin will be more sensitive to environmental exposure such as sun, pollution and dry air, so protection from the elements is very important.
Article by Howard Murad, M.D., FAAD, a world renowned skincare expert and founder of the Inclusive Health movement.