It seems as if we are told to “exfoliate” everywhere the media speaks to us: in advertisements, on TV, in women’s magazines, etc. So what’s the real deal? Is exfoliating something we should be doing, or is it all hype?
Exfoliation is the process of removing dead skin cells from the surface of your skin. Your skin turns itself over every six weeks to make room for new cells. Sometimes the dead cells don’t shed completely which results in dry, flaky patches and clogged pores. This is where exfoliation comes into play.
You should always keep your skin clean and well-moisturized with natural and organic products, and if you do choose to exfoliate, limit it to once a week, or twice a week if your skin is oily. But keep in mind that excessive exfoliation might undermine your efforts to get clear skin.
There are Two Types of Exfoliation
- Cleansing scrubs that use ingredients such as jojoba beads, sugar or salt.
- A wash cloth, exfoliating mitts, loofahs, pumice stones, a dry brush, or a sponge.
- This type also includes microdermabrasion, which is performed at a dermatologist office.
Some of the drawbacks to physical exfoliation include scrubbing your face too aggressively with a face scrub. And if you use a cloth or a brush, you run the risk of it harboring bacteria and creating more skin problems such as acne.
These use chemicals such as AHA’s (Alpha Hydroxy Acids), BHA (Beta Hydroxy Acids), and Retinoids.
- AHA’s are water soluble acids typically derived from sugary fruits, and include glycolic acid, lactic acid, citric acid, and tartaric acid.
- BHA’s are oil soluble and they go deep into your hair follicles to dry out excess oils and dead skin cells unclogging your pores. Salicylic acid is the most common BHA and is used for acne, general redness, & inflammation.
- Retinoids are a class of medications derived from vitamin A. They work by protecting your skin from free radicals and promote collagen production. They sooth sun-damaged skin, minimize signs of aging, and may treat acne.
Chemical Exfoliation can help with acne and cleanses pores. The acids fight oil and remove the dead skin cells that are blocking the pores.
And remember, “chemical” doesn’t have to mean “synthetic”. Here are some natural sources for chemical exfoliants:
- AHAs occur naturally in fruits including papaya, pineapple, and berries.
- BHAs occur naturally in sugar cane, bananas, and willow bark.
- Retinoids can be found in carrot, pumpkin, sweet potatoes and even mango.
Exfoliation Pro’s and Con’s
Exfoliation can improve your skin in many ways. It can leave your skin looking brighter and enhance the absorption of your natural moisturizers. It can prevent clogged pores resulting in fewer breakouts. Long term, it can increase collagen production, which promotes elasticity and minimizes the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.
But, remember it is possible to overdo it, and it can cause irritation and inflammation, which can leave your skin more susceptible to sunburns and moisture loss, disrupting the natural skin barrier.
Limit exfoliation to once or twice a week to do the best for your skin.
Natural products for exfoliation
Our signature half-round soaps each come with a cloth soap bag that can be re-used for exfoliation, just be sure to wash them every time you use them on your skin. You can also make a knitted soap sack with our free pattern, where the soap fits right inside, and the knitted texture gently exfoliates while you wash.
Our facial masks are also great for gentle exfoliation and are packed with natural botanicals to tend to your lovely skin. And for a deep down exfoliation (or even an at-home pedicure) you can use pumice soap. We occasionally add pumice to our limited edition artisan soaps, and you can always request pumice be added to any custom soap order.
We all want to take the best care of our skin to keep it clear and vibrant. Education is the best tool and here at Alo Goods, we want to provide the healthiest, most valuable information for you to make the best choices for your skin.