Mechanical Exfoliation – Mechanical Exfoliation is the process of removing dead skin cells by physically rubbing them off with an abrasive. Examples include salt glow, a body scrub that might use sugar or coffee grounds; or possibly skin brushing.
Chemical Exfoliation – Chemical Exfoliation loosen the glue-like substance that holds the cells together, allowing them to slough away. Facial peels area form of chemical exfoliation. They can either be very gentle or very aggressive.
Why Is Exfoliation So Important?
The skin is constantly generating new skin cells at the lower layer (the dermis) and sending them to the surface (the epidermas). As the cells rise to the surface they gradually die and become filled with keratin. These keratinized skin cells are essential because they give our skin its protective quality. But they are constantly sloughing off to make way for younger cells.
As we age the process of cell turnover slows down. Cells start to pile up unevenly on the skin’s surface, giving it a dry, rough, dull appearance Exfoliation is beneficial because it removes those cells that are clinging on revealing the fresher, younger skin cells below.
Be careful not to over exfoliate. Before beginning any exfoliation routine, you should talks with a licensed skin care therapist about the product and frequency that is best for your skin. You should be especially cautious if you have sensitive or aging skin.
Skin Exfoliation – Part 1
The modern skin care explosion first occurred in the early 90’s. I have been in the skin care industry for 35 years and personally took part in this very exciting time. Skin exfoliation is not a new treatment in today’s world. It has been used throughout the centuries with Cleopatra, the Ancient Greeks and Marie Antoinette. All used different types of exfoliants, milk baths, grains and blades to soften their skin and remove dead skin cells from their bodies. Exfoliation, as we know it today, was first used in 1927 in the form of a chemical peel, Carbolic Acid or (Phenol) to remove hair from the hydes in the leather and tanning industry.
Retinoic Acid and Glycolic Acid
In the 90’s Retinoic Acid was developed by Albert Kligman, M.D. Ph.D and used as a prescription drug to treat acne. It was later he found that the texture of the skin in older patients was improved – soon after, Retna- A, Renova and other prescription drugs using Retinoic Acid were developed. Another Dermatologist, Dr. Howard Murad soon developed an Alpha Hydroxy skin care line using Glycolic Acid as its main ingredient. It was marketed without the need of a prescription to the public and the skin care industry. These two developments helped mark the start of a tremendous boom in the industry. For the first time, therapists were able to treat the skin using highly active ingredients with little risk involved. Therapists weren’t the only ones to create a demand for the product, the general publics demand for any product with “AHA’s” was staggering. Products in this era were primarily distributed in salons, skin care centers and even “health oriented” markets. The over the counter, non-prescription required, ease of obtaining these products added to the surge. Other acids included in the Alpha category included Lactic, Tartaric and Malic.
Beta Hydroxy Acids
As the skin care industry continued to evolve, Beta Hydroxy Acids came on the scene. The ingredients of these Acids included Salicylic and Citric Acid. Salicylic Acid is widely used in the treatment of acne “because of its ability to penetrate the follicle. It encourages the shedding of dead skin cells from within the follicle, helping keep the pores clear of cellular debris. In this way, it reduces the number of pore blockages and breakouts on the skin.” To this day Salicylic Acid is one of the most common ingredients used in Acne preparations.
Hydroxy Acids are a benefit to the cell renewal system. By exfoliating the top dead layer (Stratum Corneum) it removes this layer and causes the skin to renew itself. It then pushes new skin cells toward the outer surface. This results in the regenerated new cells creating a smoother texture to the skin’s appearance. The Natural Moisturizing Factor (NMF) is a major element in keeping the skin healthy, and working as the skin’s first line of defense against water loss. The Natural Moisturizing Factor helps the skin repair and regenerate itself, aiding in the skin’s immune and healing system. The skin is a protective organ and one of its functions is to prevent dehydration on the surface by reducing the trans epidermal water loss. This is where the NMF’s come in to allow the Stratum Corneum to do this function. Without this function, the skin would be dry, itchy, and tight. When using any form of exfoliation it is important that the skin be hydrated and protected to ensure a smooth and soft texture to the skin.