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The Magic of Skin Exfoliation

Why is exfoliation important and what is the best way of doing it?

Our skin cells renew every 28 to 45 days ? this process slows down as we get older.

In the live tissue of our skin, also called the dermis, live the ?parent? cells ? they produce ?daughter? cells. The ?daughter? cells travel through the different layers of the skin to the surface of the skin and slowly flatten out and die in the process ? when they get to the surface, they are ?dead skin cells? also called the epidermis.

So the surface of our skin is made up of dead skin cells ? once they slough off they give a message to the parent cell to ?produce? a new daughter cell.

This is a natural process and happens automatically, when we are in our twenties, this process takes about 28 days. As we age this process slows down and the dead skin cells build up on the surface and start to clump together. Our skin does not have that fresh look anymore; it looks dull and sometimes even a little grey. Our skin also gets more congested due to the build up.

So when we exfoliate, we help to slough off some of the dead skin cells, therefore send the message to the parent cells to produce another new daughter cell and our skin looks and feels fresher and brighter.

What are the different methods of exfoliation?

There are several different ways to exfoliate: Manual Exfoliation and Chemical Exfoliation.

Anytime you scratch or rub your skin you do a form of manual exfoliation by sloughing off a layer of dead skin cells. (A fun fact here: Did you know that 95% of household dust is made up of dead skin cells?) To do a manual exfoliation for skin care purposes it can be done through brushing, dermabrasion techniques and scrubs.

We offer an effective; yet gentle dermabrasion technique called Ultrsonic dermabrasion. It can be added to any facial treatment. Using the high-speed vibration of ultrasound, deep pore exfoliation is done without harsh, abrasive materials. The only product needed is water, which effectively and gently exfoliates dead skin cells when propelled into supersonic action. Excellent for sensitive skin, rosacea or acne and great in combination with a peel.

Scrubs come in different forms, like salt or sugar scrubs, mostly used for body exfoliation. The most common form of facial scrubs include ground up seeds and shells (which I do not recommend ? they may cause micro scaring due to their jarred edges).

Rather use products with round particles like jojoba beets or corncob meal or use products with finely ground pumice ? like the Body Celebration Foaming Facial Polish!

Chemical exfoliation is done through Enzymes and Acids.

Papaya and Pineapple Enzymes are very common enzymes used in skin care. Imagine them like ?Pack Man? ? they eat away the top layer of the dead skin cells and help to smooth, lighten and brighten the skin. Our Body Celebration Clear & Bright Enzyme Exfoliant is an enzyme powder that can be mixed into any cleanser and will give you a smooth, gentle exfoliation that can be done daily, even on the most sensitive skin. The result is glowing skin!

There are Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHA?s) or Beta Hydroxy Acid (BHA).

AHA’s are a collection of compounds made from familiar food products. Among the most widely known are glycolic acid (from sugar cane), lactic acid (from sour milk), malic acid (from apples), citric acid (from citrus fruits), and tartaric acid (from wine grapes).

Exfoliating with AHA?s for younger-looking skin goes back many centuries, as far as the ancient Egyptians.

There is only one beta hydroxy acid which is – salicylic acid. Salicylic acid is made from white willow bark and wintergreen leaves. The main difference between alpha hydroxy acids and beta hydroxy acid is their lipid (oil) solubility. Alpha hydroxy acids are water soluble only, while beta hydroxy acid is lipid (oil) soluble.

This means that beta hydroxy acid is able to penetrate into the pore which contains sebum (oil) and exfoliates the dead skin cells that are built up inside the pore and is often used in acne care products.

AHA?s and BHA acids are great exfoliators and increase blood flow to the skin, so they can help to minimize fine lines and wrinkles. The acids penetrate deeper into the cells then scrubs or enzymes. They go between the layers of the skin cells and loosen them up ? therefore making it possible to ?peel? off a thicker layer of the cells and making it easier for beneficial ingredients like Vitamins and Peptides to penetrate the skin. The peeling process also stimulates collagen production.

Other skin care benefits include lightening of dark spots and a reduction in the appearance of blackheads and acne.

AHA?s and BHA are found in many skin care products for home use. To get a more intense exfoliation you can go to your Esthetician (talk to us about the right peel for you) or Doctor for a professional chemical peel.

What is the best method of exfoliation?

The best method to exfoliate really depends on you and your skin. If you have a lot of sun damage and your skin is tougher an AHA like glycolic might be just right for you.

However glycolic can be to strong for people ? especially if your skin is more sensitive.

Lactive acid is a wonderful alternative and I believe it is a better product to use for sensitive skin then Glycolic, because it is also more hydrating.

Lactic Acids have a larger molecule than Glycolic Acids and therefore actually work longer on the surface of the skin. They are more gentle and easier to neutralize. Glycolic Acids penetrate very quickly into the skin making it difficult to control the depth and reaction of the peel.

What are professional chemical peels?

Chemical peeling is a technique used to improve the appearance of the skin. A chemical solution, that is higher in concentration and lower in the ph level than home care products, is applied to the skin, which causes the skin cells to separate, peel off, and allows new skin to regenerate. The new skin is smoother and less wrinkled than the old skin, and may also be more even in color. To get an even deeper peel effect peels may be enhanced by dermabrasion procedures such as ultra-sonic dermabrasion or micro dermabrasion.

Estheticians are Licensed Skin Care Professionals and can administer a certain type and strength of peel that usually don?t leave you with any downtime, most commonly used are AHA?s and BHA, often used as a blend. Deep peels like a Phenol Peel would be applied in a Doctors office where the whole top layer of your skin is being peeled off, leaving you with a couple weeks of down time and up to several month of healing time. These peels have to be very carefully administrated and usually are done under a light anesthesia.

What is a Phenol Peel?

The phenol peel is the strongest chemical peel and is able to produce very dramatic and long-lasting results. Phenol peels can treat coarse facial wrinkles, blotchy or sun-damaged skin and pre-cancerous growths. Phenol, or carbolic acid, is a chemical that both occurs naturally and that can be manufactured. Recent studies suggest that phenol is most likely only the carrier for another active component in the peel solution, generally croton oil. Croton oil comes from the seeds of the Croton tiglium, a small tree native to India and the Malay Archipelago and is highly toxic. Phenol peels permanently remove facial freckles and cause permanent skin lightening by reducing the ability to produce pigment in the skin. It takes several months to heal from a Phenol Peel and will require increased protection from the sun for life. In some cases a Phenol Peel poses a risk for patients with heart problems.

How often should you receive a professional peel?

To get the most benefit from a peel it is recommended that you do a professional peel once a month and a professional peel series once or twice a year in your Skin Care Salon.

However it is crucial to use sun protection every day. Also a good home care routine with the right products for your skin type and skin condition is important and will give you the most benefit.

Over time your skin will improve and show less wrinkles, less discoloration and an overall more even skin tone and healthier, younger looking skin.

A deep peel from the Doctors office can last several years and should not be done to often.

There are other forms of professional peels besides AHA?s and BHA:

Jessner

Jessner Peels consists of a mixture of lactic acid, salicylic acid, alcohol, and resorcinol, with the occasional addition of other agents such as hydroquinone or kojic acid. This is a medium depth peel designed for more extensive damage than AHA’s can improve.

Retin-A

Retin-A (Retinoic Acid) is often used to improve the appearance and texture of the skin. It produces a mild, superficial peel of the epidermis. Retin-A has effects on both the epidermis and the dermis. The major benefit is to decrease the effects of sunlight caused aging by increasing the speed with which the surface cells are replaced. (see my last month article on Retinoids)

TCA

A TCA, or trichloroacetic acid, peel can be used in varying strengths. TCA is used as an intermediate to deep peeling agent in concentrations ranging from 20-50%. Depth of penetration is increased as concentration increases, 50% TCA penetrates into the reticular dermis (layer of the dermis composed of a fine network of cells, and connective tissue fibers between cells) Concentrations higher than 35% are not recommended because of the high risk of scarring. TCA peels tend to involve a shorter and easier recovery, though they cannot produce the same dramatic and long-lasting results of a phenol peel.

If you are interested in finding out which form of exfoliation is best for you call us at 415-302-8490 or ask us during your next visit and we can set up a consultation appointment.

Corinna Kavanagh

Corinna Kavanagh

Owner, Lic. Esthetician, Cert. Massage Therapist

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