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What is Exfoliation

What is Exfoliation

What is exfoliation? It’s a question many of our clients are keen to know.

It encourages the cell renewal process; it keeps your skin looking healthy and helps beneficial ingredients to penetrate deeper.

Exfoliation is a lot like cleaning out your closet—slightly messy, and potentially irritating—but necessary labour.

So if you haven’t regularly been exfoliating, now is your time to shine—both literally and figuratively speaking.

But wait!” You might be thinking. “I don’t know how to do it correctly, well, you’ve come to the right place, join us as we dive into the elements of exfoliation and how it can help your skin.

What is exfoliation

The general principle is that you are removing dead skin cells. Your skin actually does have its own natural cellular process of exfoliation, technically referred to in the skincare industry as desquamation.

However, to constantly keep your skin youthful, it’s important to aid in removing old cells that cling to the outermost surface, especially as we age, because this natural shedding process begins to slow down.

When skin cells don’t shed, they start to build up, which can lead to signs of premature ageing, uneven texture, and dull, sallow skin. A build-up of skin cells can also clog your skin’s pores, which can lead to breakouts.

If you have dehydration, then exfoliation should become an important part of your beauty routine.

Chemical exfoliation

Chemical exfoliation removes dead skin cells using peeling agents to aid in cellular turnover and achieve that glow effect.

A couple of types are available; alpha-hydroxy acids or AHAs remove the “glue” that holds dead skin cells together, creating smoother skin. However, AHAs are only water-soluble, so they can’t penetrate very deep into your pores.

Beta hydroxy acids reach deeper into your pores and have wonderful anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties—giving a more in-depth exfoliation in general. This type of chemical exfoliator is recommended for those with acne-prone, oily skin. If blackheads are a concern, stick to BHAs.

Other ingredients include fruit enzymes like papain (papaya) and bromelain (pineapple). They are perfect for those with sensitive skin,  breaking down the keratin in your skin and targeting only the outermost layer of the epidermis.

Physical exfoliation

Microdermabrasion is basically face scrubbing at the hands of a skincare specialist. This form of physical exfoliation is great if your suffering from acne scars, wrinkles and stretch marks.

Many store-bought scrubs are a pretty straightforward form of exfoliation that many of us have used; they use small grains or a brush.

But be warned, not all physical exfoliants are created equally. You need to ensure the exfoliating agents are spherical in shape and not too abrasive containing ingredients like fruit pits and nut shells since these tend to cause micro-tears in the skin.

If you have sensitive skin, you should avoid using physical exfoliants unless they are powder-based. This article looks at the types of enzymatic peels you can use for your sensitive skin concerns.

What is a micro-tear?

Micro-tears are created by physical exfoliant ingredients that are too sharp or jagged, causing little tears in your skin.

This is why we are not fans of physical exfoliants because of how they can result in micro-tears. If you look under a microscope, it can look like sandpaper to wood, causing rough; etched tears in the epidermis, which shows the unevenness of physical exfoliation with rough particles.


Why should we exfoliate?

  • removes oil and shine
  • lightens sunspots on skin
  • improves skin tone and texture
  • flushes out the follicular wall, unclogs pores
  • estrogen is prevalent in young women but reduces with age, which can thin and dry the skin, gentle exfoliation can make the skin less dull
  • boosts collagen production, skin loses its resilience and bounce, due to a significant decrease in elastin and our internal scaffolding collagen
  • removes stubborn cells that adhere to the surface – from the age of 25, our body’s natural response is to slow down its exfoliation rate
  • the production of the all-important lipids in our skin begins to reduce, which can compromise barrier repair, exfoliation can kick start the production of lipids
  • blood flow and nourishment to the skin’s tissues begins to significantly reduce as you age, causing your skin to become dull, exfoliation boosts this blood flow and brings nourishment to the surface


So we can see, it is essential to keep encouraging your own cellular renewal cycle.

Fortunately, several different modalities and treatments can help you with this process, What medium you use, and skin type you have is also critical, which you can read about here.

The philosophy at the core of the naked chemist brand is all about gentle exfoliating treatments, that won’t cause inflammation in the skin – which we believe is at the route cause of all ageing.

So scrub safely and with care

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