Exfoliation is the process of removing the outermost layer of dead skin cells, through mechanical or chemical means. Exfoliation improves the appearance of the skin and works as a gentle resurfacing. As such, exfoliation can help to remove fine lines and wrinkles.
Extreme exfoliation procedures, including chemical peels and dermabrasion, are performed in a dermatologist's office. In general, the more skin that is removed in these procedures, the more profound the possible impact on wrinkles and on the appearance. Conversely, the more skin that is removed during the exfoliation procedure, the longer recovery time is required, ranging from a few minutes for at-home exfoliation to several weeks for a harsh chemical peel.
For the most part, this article will discuss the utility of at-home exfoliation.
Exfoliation helps to stimulate the renewal of skin cells. As people age, their skin renewal cycle slows (from 15 days to appx. 28 days). This longer renewal cycle can result in dry, thicker, duller-looking skin. Exfoliation not only removes this buildup of dead dull cells, it also exposes the younger, living cells underneath. This results in a more vibrant, glowing face.
The mechanical act of exfoliation (scrubbing) stimulates blood flow to the skin of the face, enabling the skin to receive necessary nutrients.
The act of exfoliation removes the top layer of skin, in effect, lowering the surface of the skin. Imagine a hilly landscape - now, imagine lowering everything slightly. From this simple thought experiment you can see that exfoliation can reduce the appearance of wrinkles. Indeed, fine lines that are wrinkles waiting to happen can even be gradually erased by regular exfoliation.
Use either an abrasive, granular product or an exfoliant containing alpha hydroxy acids. Don't use a rough washcloth or sponge - choose a soft, natural sponge or a synthetic pouff. Follow the directions on your exfoliation product and exfoliate regularly, even daily if your skin can stand up to it.
Note: products containing alpha hydroxy acids literally dissolve the outer layers of your skin. The longer you leave them on, the deeper they work in - but also the more sensitive, red and swollen your skin will be afterwards. Follow the directions and use them with care.
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