Why exfoliate? And how to effectively exfoliate face and body.
Updated: Aug 4
What is exfoliation?
Exfoliation is the process of removing dead skin cells that accumulate in the outermost layer of skin, known as the stratum corneum. Dead skin cells are naturally shed, with cell turnover in young people around 30 days, extending to around 45 days as you age.
What are the types of exfoliation?
Chemical exfoliation includes the use of chemicals such as hydroxy acids, and alpha-hydroxy acids (AHAs), including the commonly used lactic acid. These chemical exfoliants break down bonds between skin cells to accelerate the shedding process.
Physical exfoliation uses granular formations to create a light abrasive action on the skin when gently massaged. Common physical exfoliants include sugar, pumice, and ground botanicals such as seed husks. Thankfully microbeads have been banned in the UK since 2016, a previously common form of physical exfoliation that was widespread in much mass-produced skincare.
Exfoliators come in the form of body scrubs / exfoliating scrubs, to be applied on arms, legs and feet. As well as face exfoliators that often have a slightly gentler formulation.
What does exfoliating do for your skin? 3 key benefits:
The process of exfoliation improves skin circulation, promoting the growth of new cells. Cell regrowth is vital to the production of collagen.
Improves skin complexion. Preventing clogged pores reduces the risk of outbreaks. Exfoliation also encourages soft and glowing skin through the production of new skin cells.
Improves moisture absorption. Removing layers of dead skin improves the skin’s ability to absorb nourishing creams and oils, making the application of your favourite moisturiser or serum more effective.
What happens if you don't exfoliate?
Your skin naturally sheds skin, so in most cases your skin will be fine, but you may miss out on the many benefits of exfoliation. In some cases, poor exfoliation can lead to skin outbreaks including blackheads, whiteheads and acne.
How to effectively exfoliate, and how often?
Over-exfoliation can have a detrimental impact on your skin. It is therefore recommended to exfoliate no more than twice weekly, for all skin types. You should stop exfoliating if your skin starts to sting when washing with water or applying products.
Exfoliation can be the first step in your skincare routine, or after a facial cleanser if you typically wash your face to remove makeup.
What is the best exfoliating method?
When using a chemical or physical exfoliator, gently apply a small amount of product using circular motions for around 30 seconds. This applies to both face, body and hand applications, however, it is advised to be particularly gentle when exfoliating the face. Rinse off with lukewarm water (not hot). It is then important to follow up with a moisturiser to replenish the skin. If you don't moisturise after exfoliating it can lead to dryness and even painful irritations.
Should I exfoliate wet or dry?
Some exfoliators may be easier to apply to damp skin, particularly thicker physical exfoliator pastes.
Incorporating exfoliation into your skincare regime with Bee Cosmetics
Formulated with over 90% certified organic ingredients, this physical exfoliator is rich in honey, a natural humectant and skin moisturiser. The soft brown sugar provides gentle exfoliation, and the essential oil blend of may chang, patchouli and tea tree provides a fresh and uplifting scent.
A full body scrub with Dead Sea salt to exfoliate and rosehip oil to nourish and moisturise. Scented with a botanical blend of rosemary and geranium essential oils to balance the skin.
A beeswax-rich soap formulated especially for hard-working hands. Combines a physical exfoliation in the form of dried herbs, along with bentonite clay to absorb dirt and oils. Great for keen gardeners!