Why You Should Be Exfoliating Your Skin Regularly

Dr. Kristie


Who doesn't love instant results, especially when it comes to your skin? No, we're not talking about a skin cream that will magically erase all of your wrinkles but a quick way to give your skin a youthful glow. You can instantly improve the texture and appearance of your skin through a process called exfoliation.

What is exfoliation?

Exfoliation is simply removing superficial, dead skin cells that build up over time. Your skin is constantly "turning over," building new skin cells and shedding older ones. This process slows down as you age. Have you ever admired the youthful, glowing skin of a child? Because they're young, children shed old skin cells and form new ones faster than an adult. This gives them those "rosy" cheeks that you can't resist pinching. Unfortunately, your skin becomes less adept at turning over and releasing dead skin cells as you grow older.

So why would you want to exfoliate?

One reason is to gently remove those dead skin cells so the healthier skin underneath is visible. Once those cells are released, your skin will appear more youthful and radiant and have a softer, smoother texture. Dead skin cells make your skin feel rough and course and once removed, your skin looks brighter.

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Another reason to exfoliate is it helps the products you place on your skin work better. When you have a build-up of dead skin cells on the surface of your skin, creams, lotions, and treatment products can't penetrate as deeply. The dead skin cells act as a barrier that reduces the effectiveness of your skin care products.

Another bonus: if you have acne, exfoliation may help you reduce outbreaks. Dead skin cells can block the openings of your pores. Such blockage allows oils and bacteria build up and trigger an outbreak. The key with acne-prone skin is to be gentle with exfoliation. If you aggressively exfoliate your skin, it can irritate your skin and make acne worse

At the other end of the spectrum, exfoliation improves the appearance of more mature skin. As you age, your skin loses some of its natural glow and becomes less vibrant. Exfoliation helps restore a bit of that youthful rosiness. While exfoliation won't remove lines and wrinkles, it improves your skin's texture and can make fine lines and wrinkles appear less noticeable.

What's the best way to exfoliate?

You can use a face scrub specially formulated for removing dead skin cells. These scrubs contain fine particles, such as seeds or crystals, that gently lift away dead skin cells. Some people use exfoliation pads, pads that have a rough texture but that's generally not a good idea. This approach is too aggressive for some skin types and can lead to skin irritation. Using pads or scrubs is known as physical exfoliation.

Another approach is called chemical exfoliation. This method uses weak acids, like glycolic acid or lactic acid, to break down the "glue" that holds the cells on the surface of your skin together. Once the dead cells are released, they can be shed. Unlike physical exfoliation that can make your skin look brighter immediately, chemical exfoliation takes time to yield brighter, smoother skin.

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The bottom line? Exfoliating your skin can improve your skin's texture and appearance. It can also maximize the benefits you get from other skin care products. If your skin looks duller than it should, give it a try.