by Matt Hansen
As we age, our body’s ability to regenerate its cells slows down. This results in dead skin cells that linger on the surface, making skin look dull, rough, and dry. Other conditions caused by old, dead skins cells are excess oil and clogged pores, leading to blemishes and acne. Exfoliation is key to ridding the skin of these cells and supporting a more youthful glow.
Most people go the opposite route and try to treat their skin delicately, especially their face. The first line of defense for aging skin for the majority of us is moisturization. We perceive this as a healthy practice because our skin feels instantly improved and moisturized. This is not only a short-term solution, but it is actually regressive in the long run.
At any age, skin has an outer layer of at least some amount of dead skin cells. When you apply moisturizer, the cells don’t just go away, and having moisture does nothing to the fact that cells are irreversibly dead. The moisturizer is essentially acting as a glue, making it even harder for these skin cells to detach from the body. The buildup of dead cells over time makes the skin look dull, rough, bumpy, and leather-like.
So, should people jump ship on the gentle route of moisturization all together and replace it with exfoliation? Absolutely not. Moisturization is very important to healthy skin. The recommended ratio is about 90% gentleness to 10% roughness.
It is important to keep in mind that skin biology is unique to the individual and each person should find a skin care routine that works for them. When it comes to exfoliation, there is a dry brushing technique and there are also chemical methods. Choosing between the two depends on your complexion and the health and sensitivity of your skin. People with severe acne need to be especially careful and it might be a good idea to consult an esthetician or dermatologist to help choose the method best for them. Chemical exfoliation should be used rarely and intermittently with a regular manual exfoliation schedule. The typical pattern of responsible and proactive skin care is to manually exfoliate once a week and try to avoid the harsh chemicals unless it is necessary.
If you think chemical exfoliation may be the right choice for you, you’re going to want to look for products that contain AHA (alpha hydroxy acid) or BHA (beta hydroxy acid). Both of these chemicals are proven to decrease acne and reduce inflammation and redness caused by acne. They also unclog pores to prevent acne from developing in the first place. Other benefits include a decrease in the appearance of large pores, smoother skin texture, and a more even skin tone.
The most popular AHAs are glycolic and lactic acids which are made from sugary fruits. They are water-soluble and less potent of a chemical compared to BHAs which helps leave skin smooth to the touch. AHAs should be used to treat mild sun spots, enlarged pores, surface wrinkles, and uneven skin tone. BHAs are referred to in cosmetics as salicylic acids. These on the other hand are oil-soluble. This allows them to get deeper into pores to remove dead skin and excess sebum. BHAs are more effective in drying out excess oil and are considered stronger chemicals that are not suited for sensitive skin. BHAs are primarily used for acne and sun damage and are more suitable for oily skin.
Again, manual exfoliation with dry brushing is recommended to be a regular skin care routine that can and should be used every day, while chemical exfoliation should be only used only up to about once a week as needed. So, what is the best practice for using a skin brush? Start by purchasing a natural (non-synthetic) bristle brush with a long handle so you can reach all areas of your body. Get naked in a bathtub, shower or any tiled surface to catch the falling dead skin. Begin brushing at your feet and work your way up the body, making long brush strokes toward the heart. Always brush towards the heart. Make sure to take care of you skin in the more sensitive areas like breasts as skin becomes less sensitive the more you brush.
When you’re done, jump in the shower. Alternating between the hottest temperature you can stand to the lowest temperature you can stand will stimulate circulation and bring more blood to the top layer of skin. After getting out of the shower, pat dry and apply a natural fruit oil such as rose hips or coconut oil. Continue to brush skin up to twice a day for the best results. Remember to clean your brush with soap and water once a week and leave it in a dry, sunny spot to avoid mildew.
Aside from exfoliation, dry brushing has some other interesting holistic benefits as well. The lymphatic system is a major part of the body’s immune system. It helps remove toxins from the body. Since many lymphatic vessels run just below the skin, dry brushing can improve lymph flow, helping the body detoxify itself. Also, replenishing the tens of millions of skins cells that accumulate daily can help in cancer prevention. Some people also claim an energy boost from dry brushing, which isn’t surprising considering its effects on blood circulation. Other testimonies have even reported dry brushing to help reduce cellulite, although evidence is anecdotal.
Try dry brushing and see the results for yourself. We recommend the Tampico Skin Brush by Yerba for only $14.99. Take care of your body and be aware of the options you have for taking care of your skin. Treat skin conditions seriously and use whatever resources you have for creating a routine that works for you.
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