Exfoliation is the process of getting rid of the old, dead cells on the outermost surface of your skin. It's been a part of men and women's skin care routines for centuries, beginning with the ancient Egyptians, and it's been proven to play a dramatic role in achieving younger skin.
Your Skin's Life Cycle
Your skin is constantly regenerating itself. New skin cells are created in the dermis (the lower layer of the skin). Over time, these skin cells work their way to the surface and die. These dead cells are constantly shedding and the entire cycle repeats itself.
However, some of the cells have a hard time leaving the skin. Dirt and oil trap these cells on the skin's surface, causing your face to look dull, your pores to look larger and your wrinkles to appear deeper.
The longer these dead cells build upon each other, the greater chance you have for clogged pores and acne. The longer the pores are clogged, the less likely they are to shrink back down to a smooth and flawless appearance.
Why Your Skin Needs Help
The amount of time it takes your skin to regenerate has everything to do with your age. As babies, the skin usually renews itself in 14 days, needing little to no help to shed dead cells and replace them with new, healthy skin.
In fact, the skin continues to do a pretty good job at restoring itself until you hit 30. It's at this time that your skin's life cycle begins to slow, causing more flaws to appear on the skin's surface. By the time you hit 50, your skin takes nearly 40 days to regenerate, resulting in a rough, uneven, older-looking complexion.
How Exfoliation Works
Exfoliation involves scrubbing the skin with an abrasive.This abrasive could be a rough cloth or loofah, or body/facial scrubs (with ground-up kernels, nut shells, sugar or salt, etc). The Batty's Bath body scrub that I use on my face every day is made with ground up apricot shells (the pits). I find this formula is rough enough to keep my skin clear and soft and significantly reduces any flaking from the old acne scars I have on my cheeks. Some people may find that a Batty's Bath body polish will do the trick - they are made with epsom salts, sugar, or jojoba beads - but these are a much milder form of exfoliation.
Exfoliation does a good job at sloughing away dry, damaged skin. But it's important not to go overboard. If your abrasive is too rough or if you use it too often, it can lead to skin irritation and damage. I'm able to exfoliate my face every day but find that I only need to exfoliate the rest of my body every few days. You may find that your skin may look best with more or less exfoliation. Test out exfoliating more or less to find the balance that's right for you :)