What Is Exfoliation?
Exfoliation is the process by which the dead skin cells which accumulate on the topmost layer of skin or stratum corneum are removed or cleared away in order for the new layer of skin cells to come to the surface and grow.
Why is Exfoliation Important?
Exfoliation allows for cell turnover, which in essence is the removal of the old to make way for the new.
This is also a way to protect the skin and assist it in the anti-aging process. The process goes on constantly and as the skin cells grow old and die and become saturated with keratin. As people get older the process of cell migration from the lower layers to the topmost layers becomes uneven and even can slow down causing the skin to look dull, uneven and show signs of wrinkling. Proper and regular exfoliation allows these dead cells to be removed on a more complete and efficient basis. This keeps the skin healthy and younger-looking because it promotes more even cell turnover by keeping the newer skin cells in a constant state of motion and preventing the skin from looking and feeling old.
How Does Exfoliation Happen?
Exfoliation happens via 4 different ways:
- by itself
- with the use of scrubbing particles
- with the use of chemical exfoliants (Some of the most common are the alpha hydroxy acids such as glycolic, salicylic or lactic acids). At higher concentrations, these ingredients act as chemical peels and actually remove to topmost layer of skin. A chemical peel goes far below the epidermis into the dermis. This method of going deep into the skin stimulates new cell growth on a more rapid level, the same level as when the skin was younger and healthier.
- by microderm abrasion (shown above) which also removes the topmost layer of skin cells.
Getting Started with your Exfoliant Selection
When selecting an exfoliating agent for your formulation the first thing to work out is what type of exfoliation you are after, chemical or physical.