Chemical and Manual.
These are the two methods to exfoliate the surface of your skin. Exfoliation can aide in clearing discoloration from sun damage, acne or minor trauma scarring. It also aides in re-balancing dry or mature skin. Exfoliation can also open your skin up to more effectively receiving corrective products.
The outer layer of skin, or epidermis, is a protective layer. It is made up of dead skin cells and a glue like substance that holds the cells together. This glue-like substance is made up of dust, dirt, sweat and sebum (oil). It’s called the “Intracellular Matrix”. This layer is rather important in the scheme of skin health and it’s important to leave your clinical grade exfoliation methods to the professionals. While it may seem like a harmless scrub or a weak salicylic acid peel, you can cause more harm to your skin than good. It’s easy to over do it.
Chemical exfoliants also known as Peels:
AHA or Alpha Hydroxy Acids are a naturally derived acid from ferment-able sources like milk, sugar, fruits etc. AHA’s are water soluble and they have a small molecular structure. They work best for aiding in the repair of sun damage or severely dry skin. Not only do they help by melting the intracellular matrix, they attract and retain moisture since the molecules are water loving.
BHA or Beta Hydroxy Acid is an oil soluble acid is derived from Willow tree bark and it has a slightly different cellular make up than AHA’s. Salicylic Acid is the main BHA used in skin care. Salicylic Acid is used for extremely oily or acne prone skin types. While AHA’s are a surface exfoliant, BHA’s have the ability to move into the pore and clear out oily congestion within it.
Jessner’s blend is a combination of AHA and BHA. It is a mid depth peel used to treat acne and hyperpigmentation (sun damage). You can expect to be pink and to have 3-7 days of heavy sheet peeling.
Scrubs are the most popular form of manual exfoliants. There are many different forms of scrubs and most of these differences pertain to the particle shape. Some jagged edged particles like those in fruit pits, can cause scratches on the surface of your skin and that’s not a good thing. Round particles like those in zinc oxide crystals are the best.
Gomage is a product that is applied to the skin like a mask and then it is physically rolled off by manual hand movements. It works by adhering the outermost layer of skin to the underside of the gomage. As the product is rolled off, your skin cells are removed as well and discarded.
Microdermabrasion is a clinical form of exfoliation that uses a machine. The machine has a hand held want that uses vacuum suction and a rough diamond tip that is comparable to a rough grit sandpaper. The tip scrubs the surface up and the vacuum pulls the debris away from your skin.
**As a rule, SPF should ALWAYS be worn when you are under an esthetician’s care for correcting any skin condition. Exfoliation can cause photo-sensitivity if precautions aren’t taken to protect your fresh skin.
Also, if vitamin A derivatives are being used like Retin-A , Accutane, Tretinoin, Isotretinoin, Differin Gel or any other retinoid, please let your skin care professional know. Refrain from using your retinoid for 48 hours prior to any peel treatment. Do not wax for 24-48 hours before a peel treatment.
My favorite method of exfoliation is to combine a peel and a microdermabrasion. If you are not correcting a skin condition, it is safe to clinically exfoliate every 6 weeks. if you are correcting sun damage or acne, every 4 weeks is best.
Happy skin renewal !!