How to Exfoliate Skin Properly

Perhaps you’ve heard about all the benefits of exfoliation and would like to try it out yourself.  It’s a great way to treat pimples, wrinkles and age spots.  It leaves the skin noticeably smoother in just one application, so you see results right away.  Done regularly, exfoliation can reduce wrinkles and reduce acne.  It is also great for people with dry skin as it allows better moisture penetration.  You can use exfoliation on your entire body, or just your face.

Exfoliation is the general term for any process that removes dead skin cells, grime, and even the upper layer of skin.  There are two main types of exfoliators, chemical and manual.  Most people refer to the manual type like microdermabrasion, scrubs, and loofahs when they are talking about exfoliation.  Chemical exfoliation is done with hydroxy acids, also commonly known as peeling.

When exfoliating, it is more effective to use less pressure for a longer period of time than most people typically use.  Scrubbing an area gently for 90 seconds will renew and smooth the skin more than using more pressure for 30 seconds.  You aren’t scouring pans here; this is delicate skin that you are trying to nurture to be its best.  Try light pressure and work your way up as you incorporate exfoliation into your skin care routine.  You often don’t notice if you’ve scrubbed to hard until later in the day.  They skin may be red or tingly immediately after exfoliating, but it shouldn’t be red or irritated hours later unless you’ve used a serious peel.  If you are using very strong exfoliation, following up with moisturization and skin renewal treatments are essential to reap the full results.

How to Exfoliate Your Body

Body exfoliating can be very invigorating.  It is really amazing just how much dead dry skin we have on us if we don’t remove it.  The easiest and quickest way to exfoliate is using a loofah or other really scrubby cloth or sponge at the end of the shower.  Have you ever dried off after your shower and had to rinse off again because dead skin easily sloughed off by the towel?  This is the ideal state for you skin to be in when you exfoliate because the skin is super hydrated.  The dead skin is removed easily so you don’t have to use too much pressure, which can cause skin damage.

At the end of the shower, after you’ve used soap, shower gel or cleansing cream to wash your skin, massage your entire body in circular motions with a loofah.  Be careful not to rub to hard, as it can unnecessarily damage your skin.  Pay extra attention to areas prone to roughness, like the elbow and knees, or wrinkling, like the chest and neck.  This is also a great time to use a pumice stone on your feet.  A loofah typically won’t do the trick with feet, but pumice is too harsh on to use on other areas of the body.  Also, don’t forget to exfoliate your hands!  They are always exposed and need it as badly if not more than the rest of you.

How to Exfoliate Dry Skin or Sensitive Skin

Very often, people with dry or sensitive skin believe that they cannot exfoliate, which is simply not true.  You may need to start slower and use more mild methods, but exfoliation can actually help dry skin.  Dead skin cells and other grime or debris on the skin can prevent your moisturizer from getting to your live skin.

People with dry or sensitive skin might do better with chemical exfoliation because the acids are doing most of the work and you don’t need to scrub and worry about applying too much pressure. You can also incorporate mild chemical exfoliation into your routine easily by switching your usual cream or lotion with one that contains lactic acid.  This is a milder acid than glycolic and is great at reducing ingrown hairs and getting rid of keratosis pilaris, or chicken skin.

If you have sensitive skin, use creams or lotions with acid concentrations of 5% or lower.  These are also great to start out with and work you way up, or for those timid to try  glycolic acid.

Remember, alpha hydroxy acids make your skin very sensitive to the sun, or photosensitive, even for a few weeks after use.  For this reason, it is really important to use sunscreen before spending time in the sun.

Sugar Scrubs

Sugar and salt scrubs are a wonderful way to exfoliate naturally.  One of the nice things about sugar scrubs is that it combines manual and very mild chemical exfoliation, because the sugar actually releases small amounts of glycolic acid.  Plus, they often are oil or cream based so the exfoliated skin is simultaneously moisturized, making it an ideal choice for dry skin.

If you are using salt or sugar scrubs or a body polish, don’t apply it immediately after jumping in the shower.  Wash off in the shower and allow your skin to hydrate a bit before you begin.

Self tanners

It is really important to exfoliate before you use a self tanner.  Old dead skin seems to color darker than the fresh skin next to it.  This can be very obvious on the legs, where knees and ankles tend to get tanner than the rest of your legs.  Remember to exfoliate your legs and use less pressure for a longer period of time.  Pay more attention to the drier areas of the leg, like the knees and backs of the thighs.  Using a loofah thoroughly in the shower as describe earlier is typically enough exfoliation to prep your skin for a self-tanner.

How to Exfoliate Your Face and Lips

Using a facial loofah in the shower like you do for your body is great for your face as well, but many people are looking for a more dramatic change.  Facial exfoliation is great to reduce wrinkles and fine lines, and clear up pimples and age spots.  You normally see some results after the first treatment, but notice a big change in skin condition after 10 or 15 treatments of whichever method you choose

You can exfoliate at home with a home microdermasion kit or a scrub.  They also sell microdermabrasion cloths, but unfortunately many sellers on the internet are selling industrial cleaning cloths as skin safe, so use caution when you get one of these.

Chemical exfoliation for the face is very common.  Glycolic peels, lotions and serums are all used to renew facial skin, even out pigmentation, and help acne and wrinkles.

When exfoliating your face, don’t forget your lips.  They wrinkle like the rest of your face, and if you spend a long time reducing facial wrinkles but never treat your lips, after a while they will look much older than the rest of your face!  Remember this skin is very delicate.  It usually isn’t necessary to use acids on the lips. You can make a paste of honey and sugar, and massage lightly on the lips for a minute or two.

How Often To Exfoliate

Dermatologists and estheticians say exfoliating once a week is ideal, but more can damage your skin.  Of course, these people also sell costly chemical peels and dermabrasion treatments.  Many people believe that it is better to lightly exfoliate frequently, than to occasionally do a serious peel.  It isn’t rare to have been burned and scarred under the care of a professional.  Of course, you can also seriously damage you skin at home, especially with the very strong products now available on the home market.  Professional peels can be fantastic and regularly exfoliating at home for a few months before hand can reduce your chances of adverse reaction because you skin is already used to being exposed to lower amounts of acids or pressure.  It will also make them more effective because superficial damage has already been taken care off and the professional skin treatment can work at the deeper skin damage.

How often you should exfoliate depends on what your skin care goals are.  If you just want to smooth out rough skin, weekly exfoliating is a great place to start.  If you have more ambitious goals, like wrinkle or scar reduction, you will probably end up exfoliating several times a week or even daily.  It’s important to work your way up to that point and go slow.  If you are looking for real change, it will take months.  You aren’t just changing how you skin looks; you are actually changing how it is.  It needs time to grow into its better self.  Going slow will produce better results than doing too much too fast and actually damaging your skin.

Take the time to experiment and come up with an exfoliation routine that suits your skin care goals and lifestyle.  Exfoliating is ideal for making moisturization effective.  Skin treatments like facials and face creams are needed if you are exfoliating heavily of chemically.  Exfoliation is one of the most important aspects of skin care and can drastically change your skins appearance over time.

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