So - what exactly does exfoliation mean?
Exfoliating is the process by which you can removing dead and dry skin cells to reveal the fresh ones underneath. Our skin naturally sheds dead skin - however this process is slowed by factors such as ageing, hormone imbalances, diet, stress, pollution and sun exposure (especially for us Aussies!).
The surface of our skin is often dry and damaged, resulting in a rough, flaky appearance to the skin. By exfoliating, we speeds up the skin's life cycle and help remove this layer - revealing younger, softer skin underneath.
If you want to improve your skincare routine, exfoliating is key. Whilst your skin is clogged with excess oils and dead skin cells it's less able to absorb the other products you apply. By exfoliating, we're able to reap maximum benefits from your serum, mask or moisturiser.
How to exfoliate?
There are two primary ways to exfoliate the skin:
- Physical exfoliation: with a scrub, facial sponge or microdermabrasion machine
- Chemically with acids such as glycolic or lactic or with fruit enzymes, such as papaya.
These three exfoliation methods help speed up the cell renewal process but in different ways and with differing levels of abrasiveness.
WARNING: Physical exfoliators may contain microbeads
Microbeads are tiny, microscopic pieces of plastic – such as polyethylene and polypropylene – found in beauty products such as facial scrubs and toothpaste. The small beads bypass our water filtration systems ending up in our oceans and rivers. A single tube of facial scrub can contain more than 300,000 plastic microbeads! The recent ban on microbeads has been a great opportunity for refreshing your beauty routine and taking a fresh look at the natural options for facial exfoliation.
Which type of exfoliator is best for me?
It's really a matter of preference and skin type. Some of us can tolerate more abrasive products while others require gentle formulations - particularly if their skin is more sensitive. Physical exfoliation is particularly good for removing product build up which can lead to breaks outs.
How do I choose an exfoliator?
Always look for natural ingredients and a moisturising base. Our favourite exfoliators include:
- Coffee – We love coffee as a natural exfoliator due to its gentle exfoliation properties and super high antioxidant content. Antioxidants help protect the skin from free radical damage which accelerates the signs of ageing. The caffeine in coffee also helps reduce puffiness and dark circles due to it being a vasoconstrictor - i.e. it makes blood vessels smaller.
- Salt – Salt is a fantastic natural exfoliator for its antibacterial and antiseptic properties. It's brilliant for drawing toxins out of the skin - particularly good for areas prone to blackheads or areas requiring detoxification.
- Sugar – Sugar's smaller particles make it an excellent exfoliator, ensuring it removes dead skin cells without damaging the surface layer of the skin. This property makes sugar particularly good for sensitive skin. It is also a natural humectant, meaning it draws moisture from the environment into the skin.
Exfoliating can leave the skin drier than before as along with the top layer of skin cells it can also remove sebum from the skin. Look for an exfoliator which has a moisturising base such as shea butter, almond oil or coconut oil. This will ensure that you are exfoliating your skin without stripping it of moisture.