Exfoliation is a process known as simply removing the dead skin from the surface of the skin, the epidermis. Exfoliation is important because as the day, or days, go by the skin holds on to dirt, debris and anything else in the environment. All this stuff clogs the pores, almost suffocating them, causing the skin to break out. By exfoliating you’re unclogging the pores and keeping the skin cleaner which results in fewer breakouts and can even prevent wrinkles since you’re smoothing the skin. Exfoliating helps with acne, clogged pores(blackheads, whiteheads), hyperpigmentation, dry skin and helps lighten post breakout red or dark makrs. Exfoliating also helps ingrown hairs. Because you’re getting rid of the top layer of skin, hairs won’t get caught under the skin. Perfect for men and women who shave anywhere.
There are two different types of exfoliators; Chemical and physical (or manual) exfoliation.
Chemical exfoliation is exactly what is sounds like. You’re using some kind of chemical, or acid, to eat away at the dead skin cells on your face. Skin, or chemical, peels are what probably comes to mind. A day or so after the peel is applied the dead surface of the skin starts to flake or peel off. There are some peels that can be used at home and others are used in a spa or dermatologist office. The peels that are primarily used by your dermatologist are your skin peels that have a high acidic property. Like the phenol peels and the higher grade TCA peels. They give a deeper exfoliation that goes beyond the epidermis and these definitely aren’t suggested to use at home unless you want to look like Samantha from Sex in the City when she got her skin peel. Plus these peels take longer for the skin to heal, a week or more. The lower grade acids like glycollic, salicylic, citric, or even fruit enzymes are used by a licensed esthetician or can be used with care at home. They can be bought online by a reliable seller or company. These are the exfoliators that will work best for ingrown hairs. Over the counter(OTC) alpha hydroxy acid products only contain 10% or less concentration and doesn’t have much of an effect in exfoliating the skin. Think of products from Neutrogena, Olay etc. OTC products do work over time but don’t expect a drastic change right away.
Physical or manual exfoliation involves using the typical scrubbing method. These are most popular because there are so many products on the market for this use. This method involves scrubbing the skin thouroughly to remove dead and dry skin cells. This method includes the use of cloths, pumices, brushes loofahs or just buying a facial scrub with some type of beads or crystals to get that scrubbing effect, leaving the skin fresh and polished. You can buy these just about anywhere. Though facial scrubs aren’t deep exfoliators they do their job of eliminating the buildup and brightening the skin. The Clarisonic system is a popular product to clean and exfoliate the skin(I can review that at some point) Or I currently use Ocean Salt by Lush(I swear I don’t work for Lush or receive any kick backs!) There are tons of scrubs and microdermabrasion products that can be used at home. The problem is just fining one that works. Trial and error.
Be sure not to over-exfoliate which could have the reverse effect and be disastrous for the skin. Exfoliating everyday or even more than three times a week can irritate the skin causing the skin to breakout. I typically exfoliate twice a week. Go for a scrub that’s not too harsh but does the job. And don’t scrub too hard or too long.