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How Should I Exfoliate?

 

This is one of the biggest questions I get from clients, friends, family and followers! Exfoliation is a much-misunderstood skincare concept and most people (even estheticians) are doing it incorrectly. First, let’s chat about what exfoliation is and why it’s important.

Exfoliation is the removal of old, flattened skin cells and debris from the surface of the skin. Your skin naturally self-exfoliates daily – all the time, actually. All mammals in nature – and even some reptiles – shed their skin on the regular! This is because our skin is in constant movement. New skin cells are created deep within the epidermis layer, and older skin cells are moving up the chain toward the surface of the skin where they eventually slough off.

Why does the skin exfoliate? Exfoliation prevents the build-up of old skin cells at the surface, keeping the skin clean and maintaining a healthy cell turnover rate. Without exfoliation skin cells would build up and we would be walking around super crusty looking 😉

Where skincare companies and professionals went wrong:

There’s a concept in the skincare industry that because the skin is self-healing, if you cause an injury to the surface of the skin it will result in a boost of collagen and jumpstart cell metabolism (your skin cell turnover rate.) The idea was to create a minimally invasive injury in the form of forced exfoliation in order to boost more production of skin cells and keep the surface of the skin super smooth. In theory, this all sounds great! This is OK if the forced exfoliation is GENTLE and limited. What happened though is most companies and professionals thought – “well if a little is good, then a lot is better!” The problem is that, in reality, this is just NOT how the skin works. Creating forced exfoliation injury over and over actually damages and ages the skin. Here’s how:

  1. It creates inflammation – which creates free radicals and exhausts the skin
  2. It causes the skin to produce collagen under duress, which leads to less than ideal quality.
  3. It strips the superficial layer of the skin that keeps everything clean, balanced and protected. This leaves vulnerable skin cells exposed to the elements they’re not yet ready for. This can lead to dehydration, sun sensitivity, irritation, oil overproduction, clogged pores and more.

Also, back in the 1980’s skincare professionals discovered alpha hydroxy acids and went super exfoliation crazy! These acids not only exfoliated the very surface of the skin, they messed with the pH and caused LOTS of irritation and sun sensitivity. Since then, we’ve discovered lots of ways to injure the skin: needles, lasers, harsh scrubs and brushes – even sandblasting (microdermabrasion). This will set you up for lots of high maintenance skin issues, trust me.

 

 

So by now you may have noticed that I’m not the biggest fan of forced exfoliation. I actually like exfoliation and think that the skin could use a little help once a week or so (for adults – not children!) BUT, I recommend using gentle, natural methods of exfoliation that will NOT cause irritation and inflammation. They may strip the surface of the skin along with those flattened old skin cells, but they will do so gently, levaing healthy cells in tact. The skin will rebuild the outer layer within 12 hours and the pH wont suffer that much at all. Once a week is really all that’s needed for 99% of us. (As I mentioned above, your skin is self exfoliating all the time.)

Plus, these natural exfoliants have many other benefits for the skin: hydrating, antibacterial, softening, soothing, detoxifying, etc.

 

Here’s one of my favorite ways to exfoliate: Local, Raw Organic Honey and Clay!

FIRST…

1T Raw Honey

1 Drop Lavender essential oil

NEXT…

Apply to clean damp skin (add a bit of water to the honey so that it’s not super sticky going on) and let sit on face and neck for at least 10 minutes. Remove with warm compress and rinse clean.

1 tsp French Green Clay

tiny bit of water

Combine clay and water until you reach a yogurt-like consistency and then apply to damp face and neck. Let sit on skin until it hardens and remove with warm compress and cool water rinse. Follow with serum or moisturizer of choice.

Allow your skin to follow its natural course of action when it comes to exfoliation. Exfoliate once a week using a natural, gentle ingredient. Do NOT overdo it. You will not achieve healthy clear glowing skin through exfoliation. That comes with skin nourishment, hydration and diet.

 

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