Exfoliation is important for skin health, but some people assume that the only way to remove dead skin cells is to use a bead or sand-based scrub. Fortunately, this isn’t the case. Exfoliation is a process by which dead skin cells on the top layer of the skin are cleared away, leaving room for bright, fresh, live skin cells to take center stage.
Benefits of exfoliation
Exfoliation holds a number of benefits for skin health. Because it removes dead skin cells that often sit atop the skin (potentially clogging pores), it is useful in the treatment of some types of acne. It may also stimulate cell turnover, helping to reduce the appearance of lines and wrinkles. Plus, without all those dead cells, skin appears more radiant and bright! All of these benefits combined make exfoliation a great way to get healthy, glowing, clear and elastic skin.
However, those of us who are planet-conscious know that microbeads are harmful for the environment, and besides, harsh scrubs can be too rough for people with sensitive skin. Luckily, there are other ways to give your skin some much-needed exfoliation.
Method No. 1: Mechanical exfoliation
According to The International Dermal Institute, mechanical exfoliation is any process by which dead skin cells are removed essentially by force, whether it’s with a skin brush, a bead-based scrub, a sugar scrub or even a course hand towel. The Institute warns, however, that these methods can be irritating to sensitive skin. In fact, even people with normal skin types run the risk of over-exfoliating. Take care when using these kinds of methods to clear the skin of dead cells.
Method No. 2: Chemical exfoliation
Now, don’t get nervous about the term “chemical.” All this means is that compounds such as enzymes and acids (including those found naturally in fruits) are used to penetrate the skin and dissolve dead cells.
Generally, people use peels that contain lactic acid, salicylic acid or glycolic acid. Each of these compounds works a little differently. Salicylic acid is a beta-hydroxy acid, which allows it to penetrate deeper into the skin than the other two options. This makes it great for people concerned about acne. Lactic acid and glycolic acid are alpha hydroxy acids, which are also great for exfoliating but are more appropriate for people with dry skin types.
If you’re interested in all-natural chemical peels, there are plenty of organic beauty brands on the market that offer acid peels. Many of these brands simply derive their ingredients from organic fruit. Even though they are organic and plant-based, though, they should be used sparingly, as they still have a high acid content—so be sure to add them into your beauty routine gradually and be prepared for some redness before you start seeing the beautiful glow that exfoliation can bring.