Take a good look in the mirror. Has your complexion lost that fresh glow of youth? If you are over 30, the answer may well be yes. Here’s why: As you age, your skin’s natural ability to shed dead skin cells—a process known as desquamation—slows down. During your teens and 20s, it takes 12 to 20 days for fresh new cells to be born, rise to the surface, and replace dead skin cells. But once we celebrate our 30th birthday, this turnover rate slows significantly. In fact, studies suggest that the epidermal turnover rate slows up to 50 percent between our 30s and 80s, which can result in a dull, dry, and rough complexion. But here’s the good news: Exfoliation can help restore the glow of youth by removing this accumulation to reveal younger, plumper cells underneath. Better yet, it’s a DIY beauty treatment that takes mere minutes!
There are two types of exfoliants: mechanical and chemical. The most popular mechanical exfoliants are scrubs that literally buff away dead skin cells while also increasing circulation. Scrubs can contain a variety of natural abrasives like almond meal, ground apricot seeds, rice bran, or fine pumice granules. While this type of exfoliant works well for younger skin, some abrasives may have jagged edges that can damage sensitive or thinning skin. Those with very delicate skin may want to seek out a scrub containing spherical jojoba beads, which tend to be gentler.
Microdermabrasion is a more aggressive form of mechanical exfoliation. In spas, it is performed by a professional esthetician or dermatologist using a machine that blasts crystals onto the skin to dislodge dead skin cells while a vacuum sucks them away to leave a fresh, glowing complexion. Although not as effective as an in-office treatment, at-home microdermabrasion creams rely on aluminum oxide to help eliminate cellular buildup for those with normal or oily skin. At-home microdermabrasion products also increase
skin permeability, effectively increasing the rate of absorption of other skin care products.
Chemical exfoliation removes dead skin cells by breaking down the chemical bonds between the cells with alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs), beta hydroxy acids (BHAs), and enzymes. AHAs are mild acids derived from fruits like apples, black currants, and citrus, as well as glycolic, lactic, tartaric, and malic acids. Used in moderation, AHAs encourage
the sloughing of dead skin cells, a decrease in the formation of dry scales, and a stimulation of the cell cycle, making them good for dry to normal skin. BHAs like salicylic acid boast anti-inflammatory properties and are better for oily skin and those with acne because they are able to penetrate hair follicles and exfoliate pores. Enzymes from pineapple, papaya, or pumpkin are used to gently dissolve dead skin cells and tend to be better for those with sensitive skin.
While most chemical exfoliants are offered as serums or moisturizers, you can also whisk away dead cells with an exfoliating mask. Packed with fruit acids, detoxifying clays, and calming ingredients like oatmeal, exfoliating masks not only dissolve dead skin cells, they can also pull impurities from your pores. This makes them an excellent addition to the skin care routine of anyone with oily or acne-prone skin.
Moderation Is Key
Exfoliants can do wonders for your complexion, but use them in moderation. The trick is to get rid of dead skin cells on the surface without damaging the younger, plumper cells underneath. Exfoliating more than once or twice a week can irritate skin and make it sensitive to sunlight and pollutants.
For best results, choose a product designed for your skin type. If you opt for mechanical exfoliation, apply the product gently with your fingertips, using a circular motion. If you pick
a product with AHA or BHA enzymes, do a patch test on the area behind your ear. If you experience irritation, try gentler ingredients. And since, no matter what type of exfoliation you choose, your complexion will be more sensitive to the sun’s harmful rays, always follow up with a natural mineral-based sunscreen to help you maintain that youthful glow.
Good Buys ...
AUBREY ORGANICS Jojoba Meal & Oatmeal Mask & Scrub soothes, conditions, and hydrates dry skin as it gently exfoliates.
BOTANIQUE BY HIMALAYA HERBAL HEALTHCARE Exfoliating Walnut & Wood Apple Face Scrub includes organic basil and sweet marjoram to enhance cell regeneration.
DERMA E Microdermabrasion Scrub uses a blend of Dead Sea salt and volcanic sand to buff away dull surface cells.