To Exfoliate or Not to Exfoliate?

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What is Exfoliation?

Exfoliation is: Scrubbing or sloughing skin to remove the dead surface layer and debris particles.

There are several different means of exfoliation, scrubs, peels, Alpha Hydroxy Acids, topical creams, masks and in office treatments.  We’ll explore these methods in detail in the What to Use section of this article.

Why Exfoliate?

When dead skin cells and debris are removed from your skin on a regular basis, you will experience a smoother and more even skin texture.  Other benefits of exfoliation include:  Smaller pore size, better product absorption and a healthier complexion.

Skin that does not receive some type of exfoliation develops a buildup of dead skin cells, which can lead to a dull appearance and uneven texture. Exfoliation can also help prevent breakouts.

Who Should Exfoliate?

Women and men both can benefit from a gentle exfoliation;  however, those with especially sensitive skin or acne should consult with a dermatologist before beginning any exfoliation routine.

Exfoliation works wonderfully for all of the following skin types: oily, normal, combination and mature skin.

How often should I Exfoliate?

The answer to this question is going to vary based on age, gender, health and lifestyle.  Your skin goes through a renewal process and turns over new skin cells approximately every 28 days. Exfoliating regularly aids in skin cell turnover.

Exfoliating once a week is a good place to start for women and men.  Keep in mind that men generally have thicker skin than women.  So, men can exfoliate a bit more frequently.

However, men exfoliate their skin on a daily basis by shaving. Therefore, guys have to be careful not to over exfoliate with product.

What to Use?

Scrubs: Scrubs are available in bead form, salt or sugar (try the Mocha Sugar Scrub), oatmeal, floral, fruit and nut, such as apricot or walnut.  Note: Apricot or walnut based scrubs may be too harsh for most skin types.  It’s best to use a gentle scrub and discontinue any scrub that causes redness or irritation.  Scrubs should be used sparingly.  For the face, use a scrub once every week to every other week.  For the body, use a scrub once a week. Choose what works best for you and fits best into your skincare maintenance routine.

Peels: Most peels are enzyme or acid based.  Professional peels such as salicylic acid or glycolic are performed by dermatologists. Consult a dermatologist for advice on whether or not you are a candidate for a professional peel.

A nice, natural peel to try once a week is, Dollface Beauty Cocktails Lolita Restore & Heal Peel.

Try this recipe to create your own fruit enzyme peel at home:

Mash one half of a papaya that is a bit soft, otherwise the enzymes will be too strong.  Apply mashed papaya to face, leave on for 15 minutes, then rinse.

Alpha Hydroxy Acids: AHAs offer gentle exfoliation and can create a smooth appearance and skin texture.  The company JASON Cosmetics offers a wide range of AHA products.

If you do decide to incorporate AHAs into your skincare routine, be sure to alternate the use of AHA products with other products.  Your skincare regimen should have a variety of products including: a good cleanser, toner, night cream, day cream with SPF protection and eye cream.

Note: AHA products make your skin more susceptible to sunburn, so be sure to protect your skin daily. Use a facial and body sunscreen with UVA/ UVB protection.

Masks: Masks make a wonderful addition to any skincare routine.  Find a mask or masks that work best for your skin type.  As far as a nice exfoliating mask to try, Yes to Carrots offers an exfoliating and soothing mud mask.  Mud masks are great to use once a month.

Professional Exfoliating Treatments- Consult with a dermatologist on any of the following professional treatments: Microdermabrasion, topical creams and peels. Your doctor can help you find the best treatment suitable for you.

One last thing to remember when exfoliating your skin, moderation is best.  It’s possible to over use an exfoliant, which can lead to irritation.  So, use good judgment and consult a medical professional if you are unsure about how to proceed.

Contributor Info:

Gwendolyn Smith, founder and president of, an online natural beauty boutique and gift service. Gwendolyn is a certified Aromatherapist, specializing in the formulation of Aromatherapy products for well being.

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