Exfoliation: to be or not.

Exfoliation can be highly beneficial to the skin by instantly improving texture, revealing supple skin, removing dull cells and revealing a youthful, glowing complexion. Extreme exfoliation has become quite common in the form of scrubs. Scrubs perform the function of exfoliation on the skin.

Exfoliation can be done using manual/ physical exfoliants or chemical exfoliants. Manual exfoliation is when a product or machine is physically exfoliating the skin. Chemical exfoliation is the use of products that contain ingredients that Slough off dead skin cells. Manual or physical exfoliants are usually sugars, barks of trees (such as camwood, Coco pods), fine grains, beads and sea salts while examples of chemical exfoliants includes alpha hydroxy acids, beta hydroxy acids, papain, bromelain and resorcinol. Some chemical exfoliants are enzymes present in naturally occuring foods like pumpkin, papaya (papain) and pineapple (bromelain). Such enzymes perform the function of exfoliation mildly and many would rather separate it from chemical exfoliants. Manual exfoliants are often referred to as scrubs and some performed by the dermatologist include microdermabrasion, brushes, gloves and derma planing.

Pampering oneself is something many people look forward to and whether it is done at home with sugar or sea salt or better still in a spa using an exotic scrub, pampering maybe harmful and cause irreparable damage if excessive scrubing occur on the body. Experts have constantly warned that excessive scrubbing can damage the body. Scrub are believed to Slough off dead, dry and dull skin but if excessive can even take off the protective barrier layer of the skin. This can make the skin to be highly sensitive to UV rays which can lead to sun burns. Excessive exposure to UV rays can also predispose to cancers. Sugar and sea salt scrubs can be abrasive on the skin which can irritate delicate skin or delicate areas of the body. It can activate the inflammatory process which on the long run will lead to hyperpigmentation and scarring.

What is classified as excessive? It is recommended to scrub once a week or once in two weeks. Some people use mild exfoliating agents daily. Some of these mild exfoliating agents like camwood can be incorporated into soap and used daily. Most people with dry, flaky skin however will benefit more from simply moisturising their skin than scrubing.
What type of exfoliants are then good for the body? Natural exfoliants like camwood bàrk, crushed almond, mint leaves and grated coconut are less abrasive. Others like honey, oatmeal and turmeric can be added to soaps and body washes to gently exfoliate daily and ensure a healthy skin. Enzymes like papain and bromelain can also be incorporated into body wash and used daily. This is not to set aside scrubs like sugar and salt but these can be used initially for those just commencing a routine and then gradually wean off.

Exfoliation can be a major contributor to that beautiful glow if done gently, appropriately and timely in a correct manner. It can improve texture by reducing fine lines, stimulating cell turnover and increasing circulation to the skin. For one to benefit from exfoliation, it is best to know your skin type and to have a skin care routine that you will stick to before you choose any exfoliant. Alternatively, have a trained skin care expert that can advice you appropriately.