What's So Important About Exfoliation Anyway?

You know you're supposed to exfoliate, and you've heard me talking about how I do it every day, but what is it all about anyway? Why is it so important and what does it do for you?

Easy - it removes dead skin cells from the outer layer of the skin and brings the new skin cells to the surface. The benefits of removing the older, outer layer of skin are important - it keeps the skin clean, it unclogs pores, and exposes hair follicles. It can also help remove the dry, flaky dead skin that pops up in the colder months.

There are two different ways of exfoliating: mechanical and chemical. The mechanical method is the most common, where you physically remove the skin cells with an exfoliating cloth, sponge, brush, or loofah. Mechanical exfoliation can also be the addition of hard particles to a soap base, such as almond kernels, sugar, or salt. Chemical exfoliation is the addition of alpha and beta hydroxy acids to products. Alpha hydroxy acids are the most common, and they include glycolic acid, malic acid, and fruit enzymes. Beta hydroxy acids are essentially salicylic acid, which has been proven to penetrate through the layer of sebum that covers a pore. Beta hydroxy acids are most effective in treating acne and breakouts for that reason.

So, which should you choose? It depends on the type of skin that you have. Oily or acne-prone skin should choose a chemical method involving beta hydroxy acids along with a mechanical method. A favorite of mine is Neutrogena Oil-Free Acne Wash Pink Grapefruit Foaming Scrubwhich combines all of these. Normal skin benefits from an occasional exfoliation, up to three times a week. My favorite is a more high-end line, but it's excellent: Dr. Brandt Microdermabrasion In A Jar. A wonderful lemony smell and does a great job. Dry skin needs gentle exfoliation about once a week, but no more. Try Boscia Smoothing Facial Polishfor drier or sensitive skin.

Once you incorporate exfoliation into your skin care routine, you will see improvements in any type of skin. It's beneficial for all of us!

Photo by hd connelly on Flickr.


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Meredith Edwards-Cornwall is the founder of online lifestyle websites RetrodivasBeauty.com and RetrodivasCloset.com. She is also known as @retrodiva on Twitter. She specializes in drinking large amounts of espresso, shopping, and enjoying social media. In all of her free time she writes for StyleBakeryMom.com twice a week, and does various other freelance gigs involving writing, designing, and generally being awesome. While she believes that success is indeed a job in New York, she currently resides in Virginia Beach, Virginia with her husband, two children, and two cats and has hung on to her day job.