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Fact or Fiction: Exfoliation is Bad for Your Skin

Fact or Fiction: Exfoliation is Bad for Your Skin

Many women tend to over-exfoliate the skin, in hopes of sloughing off dead skin, and thus achieving a fresh and renewed complexion. This is a misconception, since our skin is a very efficient organ, and doesn’t require exfoliation more than 2-3 times per week. In fact, exfoliating as often as daily, can strip the skin of its natural oils, which may cause break-outs.

What is cell turnover, and what are the average rates at which our body replaces skin cells? Cell turnover is the process by which our skin makes new skin cells, traveling from the lowest layer of the epidermis to the top layer and then shedding off. This process is what keeps dead cells from building up on the skin’s surface. Skin cells live about 2-3 weeks. Unfortunately, skin cell turnover slows with age, so exfoliation is useful, but daily exfoliation is excessive.

According to Milady’s Standard, Fundamentals For Estheticians below are the average rates of cell turnover by age group:

  • Babies: 14 Days
  • Teenagers: 21-28 Days
  • Middle Age Persons: 28-42 Days
  • Those 50 and Older: 42-84 Days

Sometimes clients are surprised that they still get acne, even though they exfoliate daily, what they don’t realize, is that the skin is compensating for the loss of oils, and is overproducing sebum.

Clients with dry, sensitive, thin skin will benefit greatly if they reduce their exfoliation to 1-2 times per week, since the oils on our ski keep it moist and supple. Over-exfoliating will dry out their complexion, and make wrinkles more prominent. In addition to this, they may experience couperose, exacerbated rosacea and increased sun-sensitivity.

For clients with dry skin, it’s recommended to exfoliate 1-2 times per week, and 2-3 times per week for those with oily skin. No one way of exfoliation is perfect for all skin types, so I would like to mention many possible alternatives in this article, in hopes to inspire you to select from all the possible options.

To make things as simple as possible – there are 2 types of exfoliators – physical and chemical. Everything that is used to mechanically slough off the dead skin is referred to as “physical exfoliation”. This includes methods such as a scrub, microdermabrasion, and a rotating sonic brush to scrape off the dead skin cells with friction. This is a very easy way to refresh the skin, and it appeals to both men and women.

“Chemical exfoliation” refers to acids, peels and enzymes. Enzymes are a wonderful way to safely exfoliate the skin without breaking capillaries, and causing irritation. An enzymatic exfoliation is a good natural way to clean out the pores, get rid of excess oils, slough off the dry and dead skin for a healthy cell turnover. Fruit enzymes, such as Bromelain (from pineapple) and Papain (from papaya) eat away at the oils and dry skin, to expose a refreshed, clear complexion. Enzyme masks are generally more gentle and more safe than acids, and don’t thin the skin like Retin-A. Using these masks 2-3 times a week is plenty, and steaming them helps pull out impurities furthermore.

Clients with these conditions should avoid peels and over-exfoliation:

  • Acne/ Cystic Acne
  • Couperose
  • Rosacea
  • Elderly Clientele
  • Tan or Sunburned / Using Tanning Bed
  • Hypopigmentation Sufferers
  • Type V and VI on the Fitzpatrick Scale