To Scrub or not to Scrub
By: Catrian Schutzer
If there is any step in a skin care routine that is commonly misunderstood, and probably the most important, it is certainly exfoliation. Our skin has a natural shedding process, but stepping up your game in the exfoliation department will keep your skin looking younger, fresher, smoother, and more clear. I explain to my clients that you could be using the World’s most expensive moisturizer, but if you are applying to dead skin, that moisturizer is literally going nowhere.
Egyptians were coined first for figuring out that buffing off some dead skin created a natural glow. Cleopatra was known for soaking in her wine baths to keep her young and beautiful. Using wine makes perfect sense considering Tartaric acid is a known chemical exfoliant that naturally occurs in grapes. Fast forward 5,000 years, a good amount of research and development later, and the options in saying good bye to dead skin are nearly endless. So with such a wide array of physical and chemical exfoliants, which one is right for you? How often should you be removing dead skin cells? And how do you know when you’re doing too much?
:: So first off, be nice to your skin. I promise you, less is more. I personally recommend performing an at home exfoliation 2 to 3 times weekly. Any more than that will disrupt your skin's natural lipid barrier and leave you raw and irritated. Seeing a Skin Therapist every 4 to 6 weeks for stronger, more results driven exfoliation will give your skin exactly what it’s looking for.
:: Not all exfoliation needs to feel gritty! When you feel something with a sandy, scratchy texture you are using a mechanical or physical exfoliant. In most cases these scrubs are superficially softening the outermost layer of skin. This will decrease oil production and help with the appearance of blackheads. But, Acne clients beware! I can’t stress enough how strongly I recommend anyone with active breakouts to put down the scrub and try something that chemically exfoliates.
:: Chemical exfoliants contain ingredients such as Salicylic acid, Lactic acid, Glycolic acid, or a variety of different fruit enzymes. Enzymes are little Pac Man like characters used to loosen the glue like substance that loves holding on to dead, dull, skin. This allows for a more “gentle”, nonmechanical approach to exfoliate those with Acneic, or Sensitive skin types.
:: Professional strength Chemical peels with higher active percentages give faster, more result driven ways of treating “mature”, aging, or discolored skin. These intense solutions can help aid in the most severe acne cases quickly and proficiently. This kind of treatment should only be performed by a licensed Skin Therapist who is properly trained and has plenty of experience... unless the look you are going for is something like Samantha when she got her Chemical peel on Sex and the City. Trust me, you don’t.
:: Skinterest, not Pinterest. Natural active acids go through an entirely different formulation process than simply extracting juice from a berry. Your at home Pinterest concoction is most likely causing more irritation than its doing anything productive. So put down that apple cider vinegar, lemon, sugar scrub thing and come get some professional advice.
:: Clarisonic’s are exfoliating too! I can’t tell you how many Clients come in with peeling, red, tight, and desensitized skin from overuse of these things. If you are using this twice a day every day with your cleanser, you are doing some sort of exfoliation 14 times a week. I’m not great at math, but that’s a much bigger number than it’s supposed to be. Take it down a notch.
:: And finally....Tone, Hydrate, and Protect. After exfoliation you want to take this opportunity to nourish those baby fresh skin cells. Use a Vitamin infused toner to restore your skin back to its natural pH. Hydrate with a non comedogenic, rich in antioxidant, or potent botanical moisturizer. And most importantly, protect the goods with a skin type appropriate SPF. It’s time to start enjoying your best skin ever!