The processes of removing dead skin cells and everyday dirt and crime from the surface of the skin. The natural process of shedding the dead skin cells from the stratum corneum of the epidermis is called desquamation, exfoliation is a technique that is used to accelerate this process. There are many ways of achieving this from leaving it up to Mother Nature or to skin peels.

There are some skincare company’s that believe we do not need to exfoliate but when we look at the bare facts anything we use to clean our skin is a form of desquamation (exfoliation). When we use a product which has some form of texture within it, we call it exfoliation.

What are the advantages of exfoliating?
1. To improve the texture and look of the skin by exposing the new layer underneath.
2. After exfoliation moisturisers are more easily absorbed, because there is no build-up on the surface to block the pores.
3. The-blood circulation is increased which brings more oxygen and nutrients to the skin cells. This is achieved by the method of applying the exfoliant in a circling motion, not so when applied as a mask.
4. Will encourage new skill skin cell production. By removing one layer the following layers of the skin move on to their next stage.
The majority of skin care companies have a range of exfoliates all using different ingredients. Remember there are different types for the face, hands and body. Lips also can be exfoliated best during the seasonal changeover between summer/ autumn, autumn /winter, winter / spring, and spring / summer. Never use a body treatment for the face, as it is too abrasive for the delicate tissue on the face.
People exfoliate the face more than any other part of the body as it is more exposed to the elements and the use of moisturises attracts dirt and grime from the environment. Face makeup is generally removed with facial cleansers but residues of make-up can build up on the skin surface.
If you choose to use a exfoliation treatment on your face once-a-week would be ideal, except if you have extremely oily skin then this would be no more than twice a week. Any more than this could damage the natural protective layer of skin.
The body probably needs less exfoliation due to the fact that clothes, which will naturally remove any surface debris, mostly cover it. Although with exfoliating body washes people use them every day which is not helpful. The new layers of the skin that have been exposed are more sensitive and this can cause all kinds of problems rashes, infections, and if exposed to sunlight skin cancer. The cells need a certain amount of time to build their natural bacterial defences.
The range of exfoliating treatments you can use is larger than you probably think when it comes under the category of exfoliation.

Body brushing wet or dry.
Body washes
AHA (alpha hydroxy acids).
Many of the treatments that are available are made of chemical or vegetable/ fruit origin. Many different ingredients are added that have a coarse texture to irritate all the dead skin cells or any dirt and grime that is ingrained within the dead cells.

Alpha hydroxy acids are derived from fruit and nuts and also milk and they are called a biochemical skin peel. This type of exfoliation is applied as a mask and left on the surface of the skin, they dissolve the dead skin cells and dirt build-up. With their natural fruit acids most of the AHA tend to tighten the skin and sting a little during the process.
Pore grains as they are known are the most popular type of exfoliation. They normally come in a cream consistency, tiny spheres made of plastic, nuts, grains, or seeds, always make sure that they are smooth in their consistency and not too scratching on the skin.

These types of exfoliates are becoming very popular. Powder is mix of absorbent materials and these vary according to the skin care company. They are a powder base that is mixed with water, applied to the face, allowed to dry and then gently rubbed off using the finger pads in a downward outward action. Clay is the same as powder in the way it is applied and removed. Clay and mud have a natural ability to absorb so are well suited as exfoliators. There are many companies using dead sea mud exfoliates as they not only absorb they also feed the skin with minerals.
Using a flannel removes the surface dirt and some of the dead skin cells the same as soaps, cloths, and massage but for a more effective exfoliation you require a treatment that goes a little deeper.
Body and facial brushes do the job very well however some natural bristles brushes are too hard and can scratch the skin. I have found that man made fibres are much more gentle on the skin. Always work towards the heart, up the legs and arms with a circular motion in the area of the torso. For facial brushing use small upward circular action and down the nose.

There are a few machines on the market that work really well. There is a rotating brush, which is used in conjunction with a cream. Its action stimulates the circulation of the blood as well as removing any unwanted debris on the face. Another machine blasts tiny particles down a tube onto the area to be treated and then removes the particles and the dead skin cells back by sucking them up like a vacuum cleaner.

There are other machines that remove the layers of the skin; dermabrasion, skin peeling and laser re-surfacing all of which come under the category of cosmetic surgery, which I will be covering in a feature in October.

Whatever type of exfoliation you chose to use always be gentle and it is better to-do it only occasionally than too often.