Your skin is in a constant cycle of creating new skin cells and shedding the old ones. As the body undergoes this process, dead, surface-level skin cells are naturally exfoliated to reveal healthy skin underneath. However, this natural process is uneven and doesn’t happen all at once which causes some areas of the skin to look fresh while others still have dead skin build up. As we age, cell-turnover slows while dead skin cells continue to pile on. This can lead to overall dullness, clogged pores and more noticeable wrinkles and fine lines.
Thankfully, it is easy and simple to exfoliate your skin to reveal the healthy, youthful skin underneath. However, the way you choose to exfoliate matters. There are both safe and harmful exfoliation techniques. Consulting with your dermatologist or dermatology provider is the best way to make sure that you practice safe exfoliation. In the meantime, here are a few insights about how to properly exfoliate as well as some examples of techniques that you should avoid.
Safe Exfoliating Techniques
The two safest ways to exfoliate are chemical and mechanical exfoliation. Chemical exfoliants are applied to the skin gently without the need for scrubbing or force. Most chemical exfoliants contain AHAs, BHAs or other rejuvenating ingredients. Depending on your concerns and skin type, your dermatologist or dermatology provider can help you decide which ingredients are the most effective for keeping your skin exfoliated and healthy.
Mechanical exfoliation treatments employ the use of scrubs, cleansing brushes and other techniques to help remove dead skin cells. Since the face is more sensitive than other areas of the body, a scrub that you use for your feet or legs might not be suitable for your face. When using this method, it’s important to be gentle and to avoid scrubbing the skin too hard because this can lead to irritation. Also, avoid exfoliants with microbeads and nut shells because these particles can scrape and tear the skin instead of simply scrubbing it.
We perform multiple exfoliating treatments in-office that use these techniques as well as other exfoliating technologies. Treatments such as HydraFacial®, chemical peels, microneedling, microdermabrasion and laser skin resurfacing can not only exfoliate the skin, but they can also help to minimize the appearance of acne scars and fine lines.
Unsafe Exfoliating Techniques
While it may be tempting to exfoliate at home without much research, doing so can potentially harm and damage your skin. An important part of exfoliating is making sure you are using the right pH. Since the skin’s pH is about 5.5, using something too acidic or with too much alkaline can either burn or dry out your skin.
Do-it-yourself exfoliants can be dangerous because the ingredients tend to have the wrong pH balance and may cause your skin to react poorly. For example, vinegar can cause chemical burns, lemon juice can damage skin if applied directly and baking soda can cause rashes and redness. While finding a quick fix may be appealing, the long-term damage to your skin isn’t worth it.
When it comes to exfoliating, it’s important to remember that everyone’s skin reacts differently to treatments. Depending on your skin, the frequency of how often you should exfoliate and what products you should use varies. It’s always a good idea to contact your dermatologist with any questions or concerns that you may have. To schedule an appointment, contact Dermatology Associates of Atlanta today. Additionally, make sure to follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for more helpful skincare insights and recommendations.