Breakthrough: Why Exfoliation Is Harming You, Not Helping
We are bombarded by the cosmetics industry with a plethora of exfoliating products, and society has garnered a mindset that we need to exfoliate often for beautiful skin. The problem: we are exfoliating WAY too much, and with the wrong products. How many times have you seen a facial scrub when browsing the skincare isles? How many times has a Youtuber or beauty blogger mentioned an exfoliating product that they love? This all helps influence people to buy exfoliators that are harming their skin and not helping. Here’s why:
The common methods of exfoliation:
The majority of facial exfoliators are scrubs of varying harshness, or even chemical peels. Let’s take a look at scrubs first. If you look at a sugar crystal under a microscope, you will see jagged edges. These create little tears in the skin and lead to water loss, meaning your skin is less plump and hydrate. Exactly the opposite of what we want to achieve. Yet sugar scrubs are everywhere, even in DIY remedies. Some products even go so far as to use walnut shells, and encourage people into the belief that this is all for “smooth skin” http://www.today.com/health/st-ives-apricot-scrub-lawsuit-here-s-what-know-t106572 Remember, scrubs are meant for the bathtub, not the face. Our face is what people see the most of, and the skin is more delicate there, so, we need to be gentle with our skin, even in exfoliation.
Chemical peels: Chemical peels can be bought on amazon, and applied by any too eager individual who doesn’t know what they are doing and burns their skin. Some people do say that they help improve the skin by speeding up cell turnover. But, should this strong product be used at all, even by professionals? Is it actually healthy to be putting your skin through that kind of abuse? Turns out, chemical peels aren’t just doing more harm than good, they are aging you faster. Master Esthetician Cassandra Lanning explains:
There is no question that exfoliating the epidermis does speed turnover but it is not because it is a healthy event, it is because the skin is rushing to fix the damage, to the detriment of the dermis. when the dermis is forced to fix the damaged epidermis, it must divert nutrients and repair activity that it would have used to maintain itself. This leads us to the possible conclusion that chronic exfoliation speeds aging.
When we look at the research on what chronic exfoliation does, the mild, temporary improvements that result seem meaningless in the face of the long term damage that results:
- the skin has less melanin protection
- it has more damage to repair from the acids being used
- there is loss of moisture from the loss of protective lipids which often leads to oil/oily T-zone
- most importantly, there is a significant increase in the amount of free radical damage to our skin cells and their DNA.
We are better off not second-guessing the skin’s decision to slow down but rather work with it to restore its normal activities. There is no logical reason why adding inflammation could make our skin younger or healthier. Even when we look at research on the body’s ability to repair itself, it almost universally has shown us that it never recovers 100% (and it certainly does not recover 110%) when damaged.
DIY Skincare Do it Yourself skincare is another area where many people are mislead on what is and what is not proper exfoliation. Pinterest is chalk-full of recipes and pictures promising “super-smooth” skin with exfoliation treatments. Problem is, almost all of these methods are very bad ideas that should not be used on your skin at all. Common methods involve using sugar granules, lemon juice,and even baking soda. As I’ve already discussed why sugar granules are so harmful, I’d like to look at the other two most frequent DIY ingredients. Lemon juice is a strong fruit acid that produces a burning sensation and drying affect on the skin-definetly not a good idea. And baking soda? Let’s just say that if a substance is used for cleaning your kitchen, then it should be a no-brainer why it doesn’t belong on your face.
2. The Amount of Exfoliation:
People are encouraged to exfoliate their skin a couple times per week-to even daily. There are a variety of face washes that are labeled “multi-taskers” by including scrubbing ingredients so that you can exfoliate daily. Who ever came up with the idea that this is even necessary? I chalk it up to marketing, rather than actual knowledge from skincare professionals. So how often should you exfoliate, and with what? This is where we bring in plant enzymes. It’s always important to use skincare products that are quality, are as natural as possible, and avoid harsh man-made chemicals. You can safely exfoliate 1-2x per month, allowing the skin to recover in-between but, this is optional. Lanning further describes the proper role of exfoliation:
Over-exfoliation inhibits cell to cell communication, leading to impaired immune function and early aging”. The primary function of exfoliating 1-2x per month is to get rid of the build up of environmental effects, cells that might be stuck, and sebum.
Now, if you have really bad clogged pores and enzymes don’t do the trick, consult a licensed esthetician and have them measure out the appropriate usage for fruit acids-a more potent treatment only to be used under professional guidance.
Proper exfoliation can be part of a healthy, skincare regimen, if it is done properly and only occasionally. The common product mistakes that the general public make are in using exfoliating substances that harm their skin in the long run: DIY recipes, facial scrubs, and chemical exfoliators. The common application mistake most people make is in exfoliating way too frequently-weekly or even daily. We only need to exfoliate our face 1-2 per month. Lastly, it’s important to source a botanical, fruit enzyme exfoliator which contains quality ingredients and will ensure a safe and gentle exfoliation treatment.