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Exfoliation Part 1: The Basics

What is Exfoliation?

As we age, the skin's ability to naturally repair and regenerate itself slows down, resulting in the accumulation of dry skin cells. Exfoliation is the process of removing this accumulated dry skin through manual or chemical/professional processes.

Benefits of exfoliation

This build up of dead skin cells can lead to dry, grey, and dull looking skin. It can also contribute to blemishes and acne due to the buildup of excess oils and clogged pores. Exfoliation, as part of your overall skin care routine:
  • Reinvigorates your skin, making your body and face appear smoother and healthier
  • Helps with the appearance of unsightly superficial flaws such as dark spots, acne spots, wrinkles, and age spots
  • Increases blood flow and circulation, which contributes to healthy, glowing skin
  • Helps with ingrown hairs and makes hair removal easier
  • Minimizes the pores and helps reduce breakouts and acne
  • Allows for the absorption of other skin care products – the products can penetrate skin cells due to the pores not being clogged

How Often You Should Exfoliate

There are many schools of thought on how often you can/should exfoliate. We recommend that you start with once per week (for all skin types) and work up based on your skin type and how your skin reacts.
  • For normal or combination skin, 2-3 times per week is optimal
  • For oily skin, we recommend 3-4 times per week maximum
  • For sensitive skin, always talk to your dermatologist before starting any new skin care routine AND test the scrub out on a small portion of your skin and monitor your skin's reaction. We recommend a maximum of once per week once you know how your skin will react
It is important to monitor how your skin reacts and make sure you are not over exfoliating your skin by exfoliating too often or applying too much pressure when exfoliating. According to Dr. Elizabeth Tanzi, a Washington, DC based dermatologist, in an interview with Glamour magazine, "over-exfoliation can cause chronic skin irritation and inflammation, which can lead to accelerated aging." Some of the concerns around over-exfoliating your skin too often include:
  • Skin irritation because your skin has not had enough time to heal/regenerate
  • Overly dry skin and/or breakouts due to the stripping of your skin's natural oils

Continue on to part 2 (The Types) and part 3 (The Process) of our series on exfoliation.

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