We all know the importance of exfoliation.
But we’d love to let you into a little beauty secret.
It can help to prevent premature ageing as well.
Why? Because as you age, your skin cell turnover slows down
Young skin takes roughly four weeks for cell renewal.
But from age 30+, it can take as long as six-to-eight weeks.
When this skin cell cycle is prolonged, dead cells skin cells adhere to the surface of your skin.
This makes your skin look dry, flat and dull.
So join me as we look at why I believe exfoliation can help to keep your skin young and beautiful.
First, I know a thing or two about skin; as a medical esthetician of thirty years and founder of the Naked Chemist.
Therefore I can be relied upon to deliver essential advice on refining your skincare routine to make it effective and the most anti-ageing it can possibly be.
Skin exfoliation and ageing really do go hand-in-hand.
Though the relationship between the two can sometimes be complicated, exfoliation is essential to boost cellular turnover.
And when executed correctly, boy, can it positively impact your skin.
It’s glowification all the way, baby.
How Exfoliation Prevents Premature Ageing
So how does this take place on a cellular level?
Your skin is a fascinating inter-cellular communication system; that completely renews itself every 28 days.
But by the time you reach your 30s, this cellular renewal process slows down, and several metabolic changes take place:
- skin becomes visibly dull and sallow
- lines and wrinkles begin to appear as collagen synthesis decreases
- there is a reduction in sebaceous activity, which dries out your skin
- your skin’s natural process of desquamation begins to slow
- skin begins to sag as the once resilient and flexible elastin in the dermis degenerates
Fortunately, we can help our skin to return to its normal rate of desquamation by stimulating collagen synthesis through exfoliation.
This, in turn, will help plump your skin’s tissues and improve tone and texture, making your skin appear lighter, brighter, and more youthful.
Does Exfoliation Boost Collagen?
Ageing causes the rate your skin produces collagen to significantly slow down.
Rubbing or stimulating your skin with mild exfoliating can help give your skin a little boost, bringing blood to the surface and helping to kick-start collagen production.
This healthy, fresh blood supply activates the fibroblasts in your skin, synthesising elastin and collagen in your dermis.
Interestingly, mast cells release histamine when your skin is injured, and blood plasma containing nutrients, oxygen, and macrophages rush to the site of the injury, stimulating the wound-healing process.
By the third or fourth day, fibroblasts synthesise new collagen fibres boosting the internal scaffolding within your skin, helping to keep it taut and plump.
Exfoliation Techniques for Mature Skin
You can use many at-home exfoliants, including scrubs and pads, that will help boost your skin.
There are also leave-on treatments, like enzymatic peels, that work to dissolve and digest dead skin cells.
The exfoliating methods I recommend to my clients are in this order:
- A light powder exfoliation that activates with water, like the daily superfoliant by Dermalogica.
- Or a light enzymatic peeling solution created naturally from malic, papaya, or pineapple.
- Lactic acid is ideal for anti-ageing and sensitive skin and will also introduce hydration to the tissues of your skin.
Professional exfoliants include chemical peel treatments that help remove the outer layer of damaged skin.
- Glycolic acid is excellent for anti-ageing, sun damage and pigmentation.
- Salicylic acid can be used several times weekly for acne and blackheads to clear your pores, remove excess oil, and ensure you don’t get build-up.
I recommend finding a combination of acids that works for you and try not to do peels too often or during the summer months, as this will lead to photodamage.
Can Over Exfoliation Cause Ageing?
Over-exfoliation is a big concern; it’s a problem I see daily with many of my clients.
Less is best when it comes to exfoliating; if you’re too harsh, it can cause some of the following changes to occur in your skin:
- dehydration and dryness
- accelerated ageing
- sensitivity and inflammation
- Increased UV damage
In fact, I have seen so much trauma caused by harsh exfoliation that I dedicated an entire article to it which you can read here called the dangers of over-exfoliation.
To conclude. The naked truth
I hope this article has helped you see why exfoliation is essential to help slow down the hands of time and for overall skin health.
Shedding the build-up of dry skin cells will help to bring fresh blood supply to your skin, keeping it youthful and plump.
There is one caveat; however, inflammation in your skin is at the route of premature ageing; think about how your skin reacts to too much sun.
This is why gentle exfoliating a few times a week is the perfect way to ensure you’re taking care of your skin without accidentally harming it in the process.
Although collagen synthesis is essential, as a formulator of sensitive skincare, we do have to question the efficacy of forced exfoliation.
If you are trying to synthesise collagen by forced trauma, and yes, I have come across this as a technique, you have to ask yourself exactly how much of this collagen is regenerating my skin and how much inflammation am I causing?
An over-exfoliated skin can strip your protective barrier and upset the delicate bacteria found within your acid mantle, which can do more harm than good, leading to more irritation and inflammation.
Which, as discussed above, is at the route of premature ageing.
Therefore, my best recommendation is a gentle, consistent approach to keep your skin young, glowing and healthy.