Our skin is constantly going through the process of renewal. The new cells emerge to replace the old and damaged skin cells on the surface which slough or flake off. In every minute of the day, approximately 30,000 to 40,000 dead cells slough off.The rate of this cell renewal slows down due to certain factors like ageing, dry skin, sun damage, etc. The dead skin cells accumulate on the surface giving a rough, dull complexion with clogged pores which leads to various skin issues. Through the regular use of skin exfoliation methods or treatments, this accumulated dead skin sloughs off uncovering fresh and youthful skin.
There are two primary methods of skin exfoliation:
- Mechanical exfoliation
- Chemical exfoliation
Both these methods have their own pros and cons related to their usage and the skin type.
Mechanical skin exfoliation
Mechanical skin exfoliation works by sloughing off the dead skin cells with the use of mild abrasive substances or exfoliating devices. This type of skin exfoliation involves the use of facial scrubs and creamy cleansers with rough particles or a device with a crystal to remove skin such as microdermabrasion. When you gently massage these exfoliants over the facial skin surface, the friction created by the rubbing action loosens the old and damaged cells.
You can easily get these mechanical exfoliants in local stores and over-the-counter. They are generally good for those who have oily skin or suffer from acne, as they help in removing dead skin cells, sebum and debris that clog the pores but only if you do not scrub them too hard which can result in skin irritation.
However, in some cases, mechanical exfoliation can be harsh on the skin. These exfoliants literally sand away the outer layers of dead skin cells. Some of the exfoliants have rough particles which can cause damage to the skin layers. Due to this, the doctors recommend a use of gentle scrub applied in gentle circular motion.
Chemical skin exfoliation
A chemical skin exfoliation makes use of chemical agents to dissolve the bonds that exist between the layers of dead and damaged skin cells which slough off the skin from the surface. The two major categories of chemicals used for chemical exfoliation include;
- Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHA): these are derived from natural foods and are referred to as fruit acids such as grapes, sugar cane, milk, apples etc. Some of the commonly used AHAs are glycolic, lactic, malic and triple fruit acids. These acids work best for the people with normal to dry and thickened skin.
- Beta Hydroxy Acids (BHA): These are best suited for oily and acne prone skin because of their oil-soluble nature. Salicylic acid is a best known BHA used for chemical exfoliation or skin peel treatment.
The chemical exfoliation can be done at home using mild acids while chemical skin peel treatment with a higher concentration of acids requires expert administration and supervision. Because these peels penetrate deeper into skin layers inducing an injury which in turn stimulates the process of natural wound healing. As the damaged and dead skin removes from the surface, new and fresh skin reveals.