Exfoliation: What Is It? Can I Do It Safely at Home Without My Significant Other Knowing?

Exfoliation: What Is It? Can I Do It Safely at Home Without My Significant Other Knowing?

Exfoliation is the process of removing dead skin cells from the outer layer of your skin; the epidermis. Many people believe that it improves the appearance of their skin by decreasing the pore size, smoothing the texture and decreasing pigmentation.

However, if not done properly, it could do more harm than good. Being overly aggressive or using the wrong method for exfoliation can be very harmful. The skin becomes red with less shine and more blood vessels become visible due to thinning of the skin. The skin can appear irritated and flakey and become more prone to acne breakouts.

There are two main methods for at home exfoliation; Mechanical and Chemical. Mechanical exfoliation uses a tool such as a sponge, brush or scrub to physically remove the dead skin cells. Chemical exfoliation uses chemicals, such as hydroxy or salicylic acids, to gently dissolve dead skin cells. The method you choose should be guided by your skin type.

It is important to consider your skin type before choosing an exfoliation method. Skin type can be broken down as follows:

  • Sensitive: May sting or burn after product use
  • Normal: Clear and not sensitive
  • Dry: Flaky,itchy or rough
  • Oily: Shiny and greasy
  • Combination: Dry in some areas and oily in others

The following is recommended to prevent skin damage when exfoliating at home:

Consider the skin care products you already use: Some medications and over-the-counter products may cause your skin to be more sensitive or peel such as prescription Retin-A and retinoid creams, and benzoyl peroxide. Exfoliating while using these products may worsen dry skin and cause acne breakouts.

Select an exfoliation method that suits your skin type: Those with sensitive, dry or acne prone skin may prefer to just use a wash cloth and a mild chemical exfoliator. Mechanical exfoliation may be too irritating for these individuals. Individuals with thicker, oily skin may benefit from both a stronger chemical exfoliator and mechanical exfoliation.

Be gentle to your skin: If you do use a chemical exfoliator or scrub, gently apply the product with small circular motions for about 30 seconds, then rinse off with lukewarm water. Never use hot water because your skin will be more sensitive at this time. Because exfoliating will be drying to the skin, apply a moisturizer immediately to keep your skin healthy and hydrated.

The right schedule for you: How often you exfoliate depends on your skin type and exfoliation method. The more aggressive the exfoliation the less often it needs to be done.

Thus, exfoliation can be a very valuable method for keeping your skin looking young and healthy.

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