How Does Exfoliation Work?

October 01, 2019

How Does Exfoliation Work

Skin exfoliation has been a staple of beauty regimens for a long, long time. Yet how many of us truly understand how the exfoliation process works? What appears to be a simple scrub is actually a somewhat complex procedure for eliminating impurities from our skin while (ideally) leaving the healthy stuff behind.

Today, we will be defining exfoliation, exploring mechanical exfoliation and chemical exfoliation, and answering a few frequently asked questions.

Defining Exfoliation for Skin Care

Your skin is the largest organ in your body. Every 30 days or so, your skin cells completely regenerate themselves. As part of this process, dead skin cells are shed from the top layer of skin to be replaced. This regeneration leads to a need for dead skin cells to be removed from the skin to promote overall health and visibly beautiful skin.

When dead skin cells cling to the skin, it can create clogged pores, dry patches, and even flaky skin. This is where exfoliation comes into play. Exfoliation refers to a mechanical or chemical process of removing dead skin cells and other impurities from the skin surface. 

How Does Exfoliation Work

Mechanical Exfoliation for Removing Dead Skin Cells

Mechanical exfoliation is a type of exfoliation which relies on physically lifting and removing dead skin cells. By using gentle abrasives and other coarse products, the idea is to clear up pores by penetrating the nooks and crannies of the skin. Typical mechanical exfoliant ingredients might include sea salt, sugar, oatmeal, and previously, microbeads.

An example of a mechanical exfoliating product would be a charcoal salt & sugar scrub. This product is intended to be used as a gentle scrub to lift away dirt, dead skin cells, and other impurities from the skin without using any chemical additives. 

While exfoliants typically focus on removing impurities, some products also include restoring ingredients such as essential oils. The idea being that your skin will be cleansed and rejuvenated at the same time!

Chemical Exfoliation Utilizes Acid for Cleansing

The other option for exfoliation is chemical exfoliation. Unlike mechanical exfoliation, chemical exfoliants do not rely on coarse ingredients or scrubbing. Instead, they rely on curated chemicals to essentially liquify dead skin cells for easy removal. 

Chemical exfoliation is just that: a synthetic chemical which quite literally dissolves impurities on your face. 

How Does Exfoliation Work

Skin and Face Exfoliation FAQs

How often should I exfoliate?

There is no one good answer to this question. How often you exfoliate is determined by two basic factors: 1. Your skin type and overall skin needs 2. The type of exfoliation/exfoliating product you are using. Generally speaking, gentle exfoliation with a product like a dead sea mud, pumice, and charcoal soap bar can be done daily. Chemical exfoliation or invasive mechanical exfoliation may be more suited for weekly or bi-monthly use.

Is exfoliating good for my skin?

Absolutely! The caveat being that overdoing can, in fact, strip away the oils your skin needs to stay healthy. Exfoliating too much or with too harsh a product can eventually lead to dried out skin or even skin damage. Healthy exfoliation promotes skin’s natural ability to care for itself by removing impurities and leaving a beneficial microbiome on your skin.

How Does Exfoliation Work

Can I exfoliate with dry skin?

Ironically, some cases of dry skin are, in fact, caused by excess oil and dead skin cells present on the skin’s surface. Instead of avoiding exfoliating altogether, individuals with dry skin should consider using mechanical exfoliants with nourishing benefits sparingly. Exfoliating every day might be excessive for those with dry skin, but ignoring exfoliation might only exacerbate the problem!

What chemicals are used in chemical exfoliation?

In most cases, chemical exfoliants contain either alpha-hydroxy acids (AHAs), beta-hydroxy acids (BHAs) or both. Famous examples of AHAs and BHAs include salicylic acid and lactic acids. Many of the same acids found in exfoliants are found in other skincare products such as acne medication. 

All Natural Exfoliation with The Yellow Bird

At The Yellow Bird, our exfoliating products always use all natural mechanical exfoliation methods to keep your skin healthy and beautiful! While chemical exfoliation has its place, we believe that the natural route is the best route to overall health. This is why our skincare line is always free of parabens, sulfates, GMOs, synthetic fragrances, synthetic dyes, and are absolutely never tested on animals. 

For more information, feel free to read more about our story or explore some of these natural products which exfoliate, cleanse, and rejuvenate the skin!

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