Our skin is made up of many microscopic layers of cells, but only in the deepest level, called the dermis, are new cells being generated and sent to the surface layers, the epidermis. As the cells rise to the surface they gradually die and become filled with a glue-like intercellular cement that hold these dead skin cells together. When we are young, the skin is very efficient at dissolving the “glue” and sloughing these dead skin cells off to make way for younger cells a process known as cell turnover. As we age the process of cell turnover slows down and becomes much more difficult. The "glue" holding the cells together becomes denser, causing a build-up in the layers of dead cells. These cells continue to pile up unevenly on the skin's surface, giving it a dry, rough, and dull appearance. This may be exacerbated by environmental factors (exposure to sunlight), hormonal influences (androgens, estrogens and epidermal growth factor) and deficiencies in various vitamins (A and D).
Exfoliation is so beneficial because it removes those cells that are glued together and clinging on. Removing this build-up of dead, damaged cells stimulates the regeneration of new cells, improving the skin’s appearance, feel and texture. One of the best and most natural forms of exfoliation is Alpha hydroxy acid. Alpha hydroxy acids work on the cells of the epidermis and literally "unglue” them, allowing the dead skin cells to slough off, making room for regrowth of new skin. Alpha hydroxy acids may even stimulate the production of collagen and elastin. Alpha hydroxy acids are reported to improve wrinkling, roughness, and mottled pigmentation of photodamaged skin after a few months of daily application. The most commonly used and NATURAL alpha hydroxy acid is glycolic acid (sugar) because it has a special ability to penetrate the skin. It also has the most scientific data on its effectiveness. When using a exfoliator, if you are looking for one that is all natural, look for an exfoliation product that contains sugar, I just love how my skin feels after using a good sugar exfoliator!
Here are only some of the MANY benefits of exfoliating:
Exfoliation Helps Clear Acne and Breakouts - Exfoliation, helps to reduce the occurrence of acne and blackhead breakouts. Acne-prone skin sheds skin cells more than other skin types, but these cells do not fall away. Instead, they stick to the skin, clogging pores and hair follicles. As this dead cell debris builds, the skin produces excess oils that become trapped—this leads to blackheads and blemishes.
Exfoliation Reduces Appearance of Large Pores - Along with dead cells, exfoliating also removes the dirt stuck deep inside your pores. Washing your skin alone will not accomplish this. When pores become clogged, they appear larger. By “decongesting” the pores through exfoliation, they will diminish in size and allow skin a healthy polished glow.
Exfoliation Helps Skincare Products Work Better - This is so important. The largest benefit of regular exfoliation is how vibrant your skin looks afterwards, but few people realize what exfoliation does for their daily beauty routines. As the dead skin cells accumulate on the skin’s surface they act as a physical barrier and block moisturizers and serums from being absorbed. Without regular exfoliation, you’re simply applying your beauty products to dead skin. Exfoliate regularly and your skincare products will be able to penetrate and give you the results you are looking for.
Exfoliation Helps Makeup Go On Smoother - If your foundation makes your skin look rough, dry or cakey, exfoliating will remove the dry dead skin cells that enhancing imperfections or cause cakey looking makeup. When your skin is properly exfoliated you don’t need as much make-up or heavy foundations to create the illusion of smooth skin – you’ll already have a smooth base to begin application.
Exfoliation and Anti-Aging - Exfoliating treatments slow the aging process, but post-menopausal women will benefit the most. After menopause, the natural process of shedding dead skin and regenerating new cells becomes slower. In addition, “glue"-filled dead cells build up quicker and more unevenly once we reach middle age. Exfoliation accelerates the cell turnover process, evens out skin tone, and makes skin look healthier and younger.
Exfoliation Helps With Dry Skin - Our skin is very often dehydrated and very dry, especially during the winter months. You wouldn't believe how many people tell me that they just slather on heavy, heavy moisturizers in winter and it still doesn’t help with dryness. Loading up on heavy creams is not the solution, exfoliation is. The dead skin cells that accumulate on the skin’s surface actually form a physical barrier and prevent the skin from absorbing the moisturizers! Removing the dead skin cells and then moisturizing the new skin cells results in soft supple skin all year round. Believe me, you will notice a difference.
So there you have it, the long and short of it! And remember, when using a exfoliator, if you are looking for one that is ALL NATURAL, look for an exfoliation product that contains sugar!
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