We’ve all heard that exfoliation is good for our skin. In fact, it’s recommended as an essential part of most skincare routines. But do we all know exactly why?
This summer, with warmer weather on the horizon and a healthy glow now well and truly within our reach, let’s get back to the basics of exfoliation to understand just how it benefits our skin and how we can incorporate it into our daily routines for optimum effect.
To get us started, let’s first look at what an exfoliator is...
There are three types of exfoliator that can best be incorporated into a skincare routine depending on skin type and sensitivity.
Historically the most accessible version of exfoliation, physical exfoliators rub away at the skin’s surface using small granules, such as microbeads or bristles. This type of exfoliation helps remove the surface layer of dead skin cells, making way for the brighter, smoother cells below and helping to create a more polished, fresher appearance.
When applying this type of exfoliator to the face, it can sometimes cause irritation for sensitive skin types, especially those who suffer from a skin condition such as eczema or psoriasis, or those who are prone to acne.
These exfoliators effectively eat away at dead skin cells, dissolving the ‘glue’ that holds them together so that they break down and break away. This helps to unclog pores and in turn slough off the dry, dull cells. The most common active ingredients in chemical exfoliators tend to include salicylic acid, which is a form of beta hydroxy acid (BHA) or glycolic acid and alpha hydroxy acid (AHA).
As chemical exfoliators do not involve the mechanical process of scrubbing, they offer a gentler alternative to physical exfoliators and tend to be more suitable for sensitive skin types.
Enzymatic exfoliants work similarly to chemical exfoliants in that they break down the keratin within the skin. However, this breakdown happens at a much slower pace than with chemical exfoliators, resulting in a gentler removal of dead skin cells and safer replacement with the new skin cells below.
The enzymes in enzymatic exfoliators often come from natural sources such as fruits, and provide a milder method of exfoliation to physical and chemical exfoliators. As a result, enzymatic exfoliators can be the best exfoliation option out of the three for those with sensitive skin.
Now that we’re all caught up on what an exfoliator is, let’s refresh on why they’re so beneficial for our skin…
Why we love exfoliators
While the body does get rid of dead skin cells naturally (most humans shed around 30,000-40,000 dead skin cells a minute), it takes the average adult’s skin cells 28 days from formation deep within the skin to actually reach the skin’s surface and shed.
This means that dead skin cells naturally line the surface of our skin, which can cause it to appear dull and, well, fairly lifeless.
Exfoliating helps remove this surface layer of dead skin cells, clearing the way for the fresher skin cells below. This helps our skin look more radiant by removing potential scaliness or dryness caused by the dead skin cells, in turn creating a smoother, softer appearance.
Exfoliating can help rejuvenate our skin’s appearance and provide a shinier, glowing finish all year round, but especially in winter when our skin doesn’t have access to much natural sunlight.
Dermatologists also claim that regular exfoliation helps stimulate collagen production and combat body acne. It helps reduce the likelihood of ingrown hairs and unclogs blocked pores, and by opening these pores, allows the skin to breathe and better release its natural oils. This can lead to not only healthier looking skin but also healthier skin full stop.
The physical act of exfoliation can additionally stimulate better blood circulation in the area, improving elasticity and encouraging greater flow of oxygenated blood to the brain and other organs. And, of course we all know that exfoliating before applying fake tan helps to create even coverage and a smooth, non-patchy glow!
So, given its plethora of bountiful benefits, let’s look at how we can enjoy everyday exfoliation for maximum, skin-splendorous results that leave us fresh from top to toe – or rather, toe to top…
Before getting in the shower, rub yourself down with your Exfoliating Mitt, starting on the soles of your feet and working your way upwards. This will help to dislodge any surface-level, loose dry skin that can then be rinsed off easily under running water.
In the shower
For your body
Turn the water to warm to help open your pores and wash off your freshly loosened dry skin.
Then, beginning at the bottom, scrub the soles of your feet with your Polishing Foot Pebble to remove rough skin and work on any calluses or tough spots. You may even want to soften the skin on your feet first by leaving them to soak in our Ocean Fizz Foot Soak.
After the dead skin on your feet has been thoroughly scrubbed clean, apply Body Smooth Refreshing Polish to your Exfoliating Mitt and rub the polish gently over your body in a circular motion.
Your feet and legs are covered in tougher skin than your bikini and chest area, so you can apply more polish or scrub slightly harder when exfoliating here.
Finally, lather yourself in one of your favourite body washes, such as Rinse and Retreat Sensitive Body Wash or Eucalyptus, Bergamot and Black Pepper Body Wash, for a soapy, silky and delightfully refreshing final clean.
For your face
Apply roughly a marble-sized dollop of your Face Smooth Brightening Polish to your face and once more, rub in a gentle, circular motion.
After gently scrubbing for around a minute, wash the granules and dislodged dirt from your face with warm water. Then (if you can bear to), pop the shower water to as cold as you can stand to close the pores and further protect your face from additional grit and grime.
Now, while you’re still slightly damp from the shower, smooth your preferred moisturising body lotion over your entire body (we’d recommend Super Smooth Resurfacing Body Lotion, Whipped Velvet Intensely Rich Buttermelt or Body Love Firming Buttercream, depending on your particular moisturising requirements) before smoothing either Skin Feast Nourishing Moisturiser or Skin Dream Firming Night Cream into your face.
Now with fresh silky skin that’s smooth and revitalised, you’re ready to face the day feeling supple and squeaky clean!