Posted by Trish Alkaitis on October 12, 2018
There is an abundance of exfoliating products on the market these days, and the common thought is that (daily) exfoliation or exfoliating with acids, lasers, scrubs and beads etc. is the key to healthy glowing skin.
But more and more research shows that almost all exfoliators, as well as using the ‘good’ ones too often, only cause your skin harm.
Let me start by saying that our skin is an incredibly complex organ. It is in fact so complex that it’s far from being fully understood. One thing is for sure though; our skin is programmed to do exactly what it needs to do, to serve the organ as a whole.
However, once the skin barrier function is disturbed, you can count on the development of various less‐ or more‐severe skin malfunctions.
Environmental insults can have a huge damaging effect in the skin through the generation of oxidative stress. Among other things, the generation of oxidative stress overwhelms the skin's defenses by quickly depleting vitamin E and vitamin C antioxidant capacity, causing serious harm to the skin.
Sun UV rays, cigarette smoke exposure, and pollutants, in addition to the natural process of aging, contribute to the generation of free radicals and reactive oxygen species that interact with lipid‐rich plasma membrane and initiate the so‐called lipid peroxidation reaction cascade.
Skin inflammation, in turn, leads to generating further free radicals thus establishing a vicious circle.
By forcing the skin to restore itself way faster than it wants, the reason why we exfoliate in the first place, we are pushing the skin into a state of emergency. Many people suffer from sensitive and dehydrated skin these days; over-exfoliating removes the skin’s lipid barrier that retains moisture. And, in contrary to what is commonly said in marketing, just using a moisturizer cannot solve that problem.
When you over-exfoliate or use harsh exfoliants, the skin simply can’t keep up with the demand for repair. This increases inflammation and depletes the skin’s capacity to repair this inflammation. And to make matters worse, removing the protective epidermal layers increases free radical damage caused by the sun.
In other words; you are accelerating the wearing out of your skin.
By removing the lipid barrier, you are also disrupting the balance of the skin’s bacteria. One of the many tasks these bacteria perform is keeping harmful bacteria in check. The dialogue on the use of topical probiotics is hot these days but remember that the skin is highly capable of maintaining a healthy balanced bacteria population if the barrier is intact.
“But exfoliating boosts collagen production” you might argue, and “my skin looks so plump after the treatment”.
Over-exfoliation, exfoliation with acids, beads, hard
scrubs, devices or chemicals, trigger the skin to respond as if it is wounded.
This response results in epidermal swelling. It is this epidermal swelling that
is mistaken for the ‘plumping of the skin’ and the ‘smoothing of fine lines’.
Indeed, the skin is rushed into producing more collagen because these layers of the epidermis are removed. So yes, it will produce more collagen, but this collagen is sent to the damaged barrier.
While what your skin really requires is a balanced collagen production that is focused on producing the long-term collagen your skin so desperately needs to stay supple, healthy and beautiful.
So how do we exfoliate? And how often?
With enzymes and no more than 3 times a month.
Exfoliating with enzymes is the gentlest way of exfoliating. The proper enzyme blend has the unique ability to selectively target cells without compromising the lipid barrier, but also consist of the right nutrients to add to the skin in the process.
You can also choose manual exfoliation but then make sure to use something soft, like dried flowers, do not use pressure while 'scrubbing' and make sure to never combine two methods in one session.
Exfoliating with enzymes does not induce any trauma to the skin and therefore will not make the skin ‘plump’ after the treatment. That is why some people think it is not ‘effective’. But why would you want your skin to look anything else than calm, nourished and softened after any treatment?!
So, we don’t need to speed up the cell turnover in aging skin to try and maintain young looking skin? And we don’t need to exfoliate daily or use acids to achieve that?
Well, if you bear in mind that inflammation in the skin is actually the number one cause of accelerated aging you should have your answer…..
Balanced skin is healthy skin is beautiful skin.
To achieve healthy beautiful skin, we have to trust the skin and work with this wondrous organ instead of working against it. We need to help it protect itself from environmental damage instead of wounding it.
Help your skin fulfill its tasks to the best of its potential by nourishing it, immersing it with nutrients. Eat the best food and use skin care that is filled to the brim with raw antioxidants, vitamins, nutrients. These nutrients are responsible for the health and thus beauty of your skin.
Your body is always looking for balance, homeostasis. It is programmed to find that balance.
By giving your body and thereby your skin the tools and nutrients it needs to perform its tasks your skin will be well hydrated, supple, less sensitive and abler to protect itself from environmental stress and sun damage. In other words, you’ll glow with health.
Nourish your skin, don't force it. It is rain that makes flowers bloom, not thunder.