Why You Should Exfoliate Your Face

Exfoliating your face is the key to great skinMost people know about the importance of cleansing and moisturizing the face, and are usually equally knowledgeable about using a sunscreen when spending time outdoors.

But when it comes to the subject of exfoliation, many women are not aware of the wide range of benefits this simple skin care regimen can bring. The simple truth is that exfoliating is the key to having great skin.

Exfoliation is the skin’s natural process of shedding dead skin cells to reveal the healthy, glowing fresh skin cells developing beneath. As the exterior skin cells become dry, scaly and non-functional, they simply die and shed off revealing the new skin.

When we are young the natural process of skin exfoliation takes around 27 days, but as we age it can take longer. During this time the cells in the bottom layer of the epidermis divide and multiply, while the uppermost cells die and detach from the skin surface. The new cells in the lower part of the epidermis slowly work their way upwards to the outer layer of the skin to reveal new, fresher looking skin.

Chemical or natural

Fortunately, there are a couple of things we can do to speed up this natural process of skin replenishment. One way is by using chemicals, and the other is by using an entirely natural approach. The first method involves using products that contain a form of mild acid such as alpha hydroxy or salicylic acid. These work to slough off the outer layer of the skin. They are available in different strengths as over the counter products or by prescription from a dermatologist.

Chemical exfoliators can be used alone or in combination with a physical exfoliation product. However, before combining these products on your own you should check with your dermatologist, because the wrong combination may cause damage to the outer layer of skin that can result in red, irritated and sensitive skin. Some products are delivered as combination products, which have been tested and are approved to use on skin. But combining your own over the counter products on your own can result in disaster, so do take care.

Facial Exfoliator

Natural exfoliation products usually have an abrasive agent such as ground walnut shells, olive stones or jojoba beads, and the use of these physical scouring agents helps to remove dead skin cells gently. The natural particulate matter in the product can come in different ‘bead’ sizes, and the type and size used will depend on a combination of the application process and the desired result.

This type of physical exfoliation is a popular method of cleaning and ‘buffing’ skin from the tips of the toes right up to the face. And it almost goes without saying that products designed exclusively to be used on the feet shouldn’t be used on your face! Generally speaking, products designed to exfoliate the body are usually far too harsh for the delicate skin on the face and neck.

However, facial exfoliators are perfectly okay when used on the body since they utilize smaller cleansing granules and are much more gentle. I always use a facial exfoliator on my body for this reason.

How to exfoliate your face

You should always start the process of exfoliation with a clean face. After finishing your cleansing routine, wet your skin, place a small amount of the product in your hand, and apply it in gentle circles around your face avoiding the area around the eyes. The skin around the eye area is too delicate for exfoliation, and even a natural abrasive product used here could cause irritation and redness. I’m sorry, but you just can’t rub those wrinkles away!

Finish off by rinsing your face with warm water and gently pat it dry. Make absolutely sure you get all of the product off your face. You may find that using an exfoliation product before showering in the morning allows you to fully rinse off of all of the cleansing particulates. Ideally you should close the pores by finishing off with an alcohol-free toner.

Depending upon your daily schedule, facial exfoliation can be done in either the evening or morning. However, be aware that if you use an exfoliant in the morning you may need to wait a few minutes before putting on your make up to allow the face to return to its natural colour. Exfoliating increases the blood flow (which is obviously a good thing), and your face will be glowing, Just let your skin settle for a short while before applying your moisturiser and then any makeup.

To keep your skin in tip-top condition you should exfoliate once or twice a week, and it will take a week or two to start seeing the benefits. But it’s well worth the effort, and I’m sure you’ll be delighted with the long-term results once you see and feel the soft, new, radiant skin replacing your old dull complexion.

Make your own exfoliator

If you prefer, you can always make your own natural exfoliant at home. Some ideal ingredients you can include in your exfoliant are ground oats, milled flax seed, cornmeal, yogurt, honey or buttermilk. A blend of yogurt and ground oats is actually a mix of natural chemical and abrasive exfoliant because the ground oats are abrasive and the yogurt has a chemical action due to the lactic acid it contains.

Simply add your oatmeal into half a cup of milk, and add 1teaspoon of honey and mix together to make a paste. Apply this mixture to your face and just let it dry naturally. Finally, remove the dried paste gently with a warm wet facecloth, rinse your face thoroughly, and pat dry.

You can make a special exfoliating treatment for your hands too. To a half cup of granulated sugar add 2 tablespoons of apricot oil, the juice of ½ lemon or 1 drop of lemon essential oil. Mix everything really well together and apply the mixture immediately to your hands. Rub this for a minute and then rinse with warm water and finish off with a moisturizer. Sugar is an excellent exfoliator and apricot oil is a natural lubricant that also adds moisture to your skin.

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