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Should I exfoliate my skin?

This is a vast subject on which you can already easily find a lot of information and recommendations on the net. Google is your best friend!

What else will you learn in this article? Maybe nothing new, but I will try to bring a broader perspective than just answering the YES or NO question should we exfoliate our skin.

So let’s dive in!

First, let’s start by learning a little more about how our skin works. The skin is the largest organ of the human body. According to the parts of the body, its thickness varies from about 4 mm for the feet and hands to only 0.3 mm for the area under the eyes. Composed of 3 layers, the epidermis, the dermis and the hypodermis, it has many important functions including:

  • Protection: the main function of the skin is to protect our body from all external aggressions on a daily basis. It protects against pollution, microbes, UV rays and shocks.

  • Thermal regulation: The skin keeps our body at a temperature of 37 degrees.

  • Perception: constituted by many nerve receptors, our skin perceives external stimuli such as touch, heat, cold, pain, etc.

  • Synthesis of vitamin D.

  • Participation in the immune protection of the human body by stimulating certain T lymphocytes and white blood cells.

The rate of skin cell renewal varies for each person but also according to age. For adolescents, this process takes about 28 days. For adults, it takes between 28 and 42 days. For people age 50 and older, the renewal process can take up to 84 days. As we age, our skin takes longer to repair and replace damaged cells, hence the accumulation of dead cells on the skin surface, the epidermis.

Our skin is a complex organ performing many functions and its balance is essential not only for cosmetic aspects but also for our health.

So, what is the role of exfoliation for the health and beauty of our skin?

Exfoliation and its effects

Exfoliation is the process of removing dead cells from the surface of the skin. There are many exfoliation processes:

  • Chemical peeling: performed by a dermatologist, chemical peeling consists of applying an acidic substance to the face in order to make it peel.

  • Microdermabrasion: treatment also performed by a professional and which consists of exfoliating the upper layer of the skin in order to clean it in depth and to boost cellular activity.

  • Chemical exfoliation: works by chemical reaction thanks to acids called AHA (glycolic acid, lactic acid or salicylic acid) used to eliminate dead cells from the epidermis.

  • Mechanical exfoliation: with granules or grains that can be synthetic or natural to clean the pores by rubbing the beads on the skin.

  • Enzymatic exfoliation: a gentle method that deeply cleanses the skin and stimulates cell renewal thanks to fruit enzymes such as papain (papaya), actinidin (kiwi) or ficin (fig).

There is a well-known theory that regular exfoliation makes our skin be more beautiful, healthier and also better absorb skincare products.

Yes, that’s true, there may be positive effects in the short term but, first of all, it is very important to ensure our skin’s balance. Actually, too regular and too abrasive exfoliation will damage our skin hence have the opposite effect.

As we have seen earlier, the primary function of our skin is a protective function. It is therefore very important to keep the skin barrier intact and healthy. A too frequent exfoliation will slowly destroy the structure and health of the epidermis: appearance of micro lesions, loss of the skin's natural oil and protective function. By damaging the protective layer of the epidermis, skincare products will penetrate momentarily in greater concentration and we can obtain a good result in the short term. But what we do not see is that environmental toxins, ultraviolet rays and other pollution will also penetrate deeper into our skin. Medium and long-term results are undeniable: more wrinkles, more visible signs of aging… absolutely the opposite of what we were looking for!

Exfoliation: Yay or Nay? Exfoliation can still remain an ally to help eliminate dead cells, especially when you get older, because mature skin is often synonymous with dull complexion. That being said, it is also essential to consider your skin type before exfoliating. Oily, thick skin will not react in the same way as sensitive, reactive skin. Since exfoliation aims to remove dead cells from our skin, we must also take into account the frequency of cell renewal as seen earlier in this article. All of this put together, you can easily realize that exfoliating your face several times a week is not necessarily the best idea for your skin’s health and beauty.

Therefore, the frequency of exfoliation must take into account all these criteria and above all the exfoliation must be most gentle as possible thus enzymatic exfoliation.

Anyhow, clear and healthy skin starts with a very good cleansing. Then it is more important to cleanse your skin thoroughly in the evening, without irritating it, than to repeatedly exfoliate.

Personally, I never exfoliate my face, but I use cleansing products that deeply cleanse, moisturize and preserve my skin. That's what works best for me!

If you really want to exfoliate your skin, I will recommend to do it once a month, no more, and use a gentle exfoliant that respects and protects your skin.

Bisous Bisous


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