Exfoliating Your Skin FAQ
When to exfoliate/how often?
This is different for everyone, but it’s probably no where near as often as you think. Don’t over exfoliate, you will cause many problems – the first and most problematic being dehydration. Try once to twice a week, depending on your skin type. Before applying a mask is also a great idea. If in doubt, do it less often! When your skin is hydrated, the enzymes in your skin will be working as they should be - this means your skin will naturally desquamate (exfoliate) at its own natural pace. You shouldn't 'feel the need to scrub'. If you do, chances are your skin is dehydrated and there is a build up of skin cells. Yes exfoliate, but more importantly, HYDRATE! It's always a great idea to exfoliate before you use a mask, this will give you a smoother more permeable canvas for your mask nutrients to penetrate and work on the skin.
How to exfoliate?
Each product will have different instructions. For the Gentle Enzyme Peel (my favourite!), mix it with a little bit of water in your hand, massage over face and neck and leave for 5 minutes before rinsing completely. Light, slow circular motions are best as they are more gentle. You don't need to scrub hard like you're trying to rub off your skin!
What to use?
Gentle Enzyme Peel or Gentle Clearing Wash are my favourites. The Gentle Clearing Wash is a bit stronger, so I would start with the Gentle Enzyme Peel first. It doesn't feel gritty. And it's not a peel. It contains enzymes (surprise) from pineapple and papaya that will do the 'exfoliating' for you. For other brands, use exfoliants that have tiny, smooth or round granules (not the plastic microbeads!) as they are soft for your skin.
What is the acid mantle?
The acid mantle is the skin's natural protective film. It is made up of our skin’s perspiration (sweat) and fatty acids (sebum or oil). As the name suggests, it is more acidic than alkaline. A pH of 4.5 - 5.5 to be more specific. Our acid mantle protects the skin from the environment and prevents irritants from coming into contact with the skin. Bacteria thrive in an alkaline environment – so you can see why our skin is designed to be naturally acidic to counteract this and prevent infections and other problems. It is our protective coat. It keeps OUT bacteria, and keeps IN water. The acid mantle is vital for preventing water loss and maintaining hydration (Why?). Cleansing your skin will disrupt this layer, meaning your skin needs to rebuild the acid mantle again. This is why it is imperative to use an appropriate (and gentle!) cleanser, to prevent disturbing the acid mantle where possible. Yes, we still need to cleanse our skins – but gently! The acid mantle is vital in maintaining skin health! Click here to learn more about skin.
What to avoid?
Many people are still choosing a really harsh scrub thinking it is doing a better job. Please don’t! It will scratch the surface of your skin, strip it of it's natural oils - and if you're doing it so often, it will never have a change to repair itself or strengthen! Sorry, I'm looking at you, apricot scrubs. 9 times out of 10 any imbalance in your skin is first due to dehydration. Address that, and you will see a difference! Hydrate, repair, protect!
Just like over cleansing, avoid exfoliating too much and too often (this goes for all over your body!). Over doing it can strip your skin of it's natural oils and cause even more problems - mainly dehydration. Avoid 'Daily' scrubs regardless of how gentle they say they are.
What happens if I don’t exfoliate correctly?
- Too much and you can strip your skin and cause the beginning of the vicious cycle of dehydrated skin.
- Not enough and it could be dull, with a build up of skin cells preventing your skin from being as healthy as it could be.
Without a healthy acid mantle, the skin is stripped and exposed to the environment. It can become sensitive. Water is lost and the skin dehydrates rapidly. As the skin dehydrates, the surface of your skin becomes tighter as the skin cells dry and ‘curl up’. It can make your pores look larger. Sebum (oil) can become trapped under the skin, your products can’t absorb as well into the skin, your skin’s oil glands can over produce to try to compensate for the lack of water giving you an ‘oily dry skin’. Another reason to hydrate your skin is so your skin cells are plump, full of water and lie flat protecting the skin from irritants and further water loss. Dry ‘curled’ skin cells will curl upwards, causing further dehydration with irritants being able to enter the skin.