How To Exfoliate Naturally, Safely And Efficiently

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Your skin can say a lot about you, which is why so many products and devices are geared towards preserving and maintaining its youthful look and vitality. Having dull and tired skin can be an issue for some people. Even though the skin regenerates on its own at a relatively rapid rate, it’s still something that people often want to improve. The success of the process depends on their chosen method and their skin type. Here are 3 ways to exfoliate safely and efficiently.

Our skin is the largest and heaviest organ we have, and it provides insulation, protection, and sense-awareness. The skin is made up of several layers. The epidermis is the most external of them. Exfoliation is the name given to the process of dead skin removal because sometimes the dead skin cells decide to stick around instead of shed. Exfoliation keeps the pores cleaner and the surface less “busy.” This can be carried out using a designated tool or chemical substance.

Exfoliating is literally a revelation: out with the old and in with the new. It’s a chief player in attaining glowing and youthful-looking skin, and it’s something that can be done by pretty much anyone, depending on your chosen method. Also known as scrubs and peels (physical and chemical exfoliation, respectively), many consider it to be an essential part of any thought-out beauty routine. 

What Is Chemical Exfoliation?

Woman With Good Hair And Skin.

Chemical Exfoliation For Your Skin

A scrub exfoliates mechanically, often using a tool to physically clean the surface area of your skin. A chemical exfoliation makes use of active ingredients, not tools, which dissolve the dead skin cells. Each method has its advantages and drawbacks, but I feel the benefits of chemical exfoliation outweigh the disadvantages. Also, you can often get more uniform and put-together results with chemical peels as opposed to with a tool that you manipulate with your hands.

Two main types of acid can be used to exfoliate the skin chemically, and these are alpha-hydroxy acid and beta-hydroxy acid. As with any acid or chemical, you should test it out first if you have a history of sensitivities and outbreaks. These acids can smooth and brighten skin by bringing the new cells to light, and it may even be able to help with scars and other imperfections. Not that I have anything against a well-placed scar!

Chemicals vary in their intensity. Some chemical peels are very mild, while others can figuratively melt your face off if used improperly. Better to be safe than sorry. Start small and see how your skin reacts to it.

How Often Should You Exfoliate For Healthy Skin?

Back view of woman applying moisturizing lotion to skin.

Exfoliating Skin

One way or the other, what you want to avoid at all costs is unnecessarily irritating the skin or aggravating any existing conditions. The best time to exfoliate is before you go to bed because during sleep the body takes care of many processes, including regeneration of the skin cells.

So how often should it be done? This next bit has more to do with the face area, but to some extent, it can also be applied to the rest of the body:

For normal skin, exfoliating two or three times a week is fine. For those who have skin that is prone to pimpling, doing it nearly every day is not out of the question. Exfoliating helps to remove excess dirt, and it also makes it so your skin is more susceptible to any beauty product you’ll be applying. Less friction or surface clutter invariably means better absorption of the product in question.

Another thing to consider in this context is diet, age, and genetics. Your age will continue to march on and show its true colors, and time waits for no one. Genetics is something you can’t control quite yet (though science is catching up to it). Your diet is something you can control, and it can do a world of good for your skin. Certain nutrients are essential for proper skin development, so make sure that you’re giving your body what it needs in order to grow in a healthy way.

Finally, a big part of knowing when to exfoliate is knowing when not to exfoliate. Any cuts, burns, wounds, or irritated areas should be given adequate time to heal. Subjecting them to chemicals or abrasive tools will usually only aggravate the situation. Some only exfoliate once or twice a month, as opposed to twice a week. If you are not sure of what your routine should be, you can start and see what works for you.

Ultimately, you’re the one who walks around in your skin, therefore you should be comfortable in it. It’s all about what your situation is, what you’re comfortable using, and what produces the best results for you. Even if a friend recommends a method and swears by it, it may have no bearing whatsoever on your particular situation. Skin is a seriously personal organ.

How To Exfoliate Your Face

Girl with curly hair looking in the mirror putting on moisturizer.

Women Exfoliating Her Face

The key, no matter the method being used, is to be gentle when you exfoliate your face. The tools and chemicals are harsh enough as it is (more often than not). So, be careful and treat yourself right. Again, you want to remove dead skin safely and efficiently, and experience as little backlash and inconvenience as possible.

If you are choosing chemical exfoliation, first cleanse your face. Then, depending on the instructions of your particular product, apply it in a gentle circular motion and either let it sit or rinse it off. Follow it up by drying your face (also gently), and then applying proper moisturizer. 

If you’re going for mechanical exfoliation, use your brush or scrub and move in circles. Deploy judgment, don’t apply too much pressure, and keep it light and moving. Remember, the skin you’re going for is already dead, and you are just assisting it in shedding. No need to treat it like something you need to work hard or vigorously on. Slow strokes can do a lot more, in the short and long term, and help to get the best results.

Once you finish using the tool or scrub, rinse with lukewarm or tepid water. Whatever you do, don’t make the water too hot. Better it is too cool than too hot, otherwise, you may end up with a face you’re not happy with. Extreme temperatures can be detrimental, especially to newly-arrived skin.

DIY Natural Exfoliant Recipe & Guide

Bowl of oats

Make A DIY Natural Exfoliant With Oats

Whether mechanical or chemical, this can be achieved in the comfort of your own home. Examples of natural chemical peel solutions include salt, sugar, oats, and baking soda. The mechanical solutions are more along the lines of the “brush and sponge” department. There are many varieties and products to choose from in that area. It will be up to you to decide what you personally consider natural and what you don’t.  With that in mind, here’s a simple DIY natural exfoliant recipe & guide.

Your goal here is to help the body carry out what it’s already engaged in. So, there isn’t any serious manipulation involved with natural exfoliation. You still want to achieve the same results: unclogged pores, decreased lines and pimples, improved healthy turnover, contending with blemishes or discoloration, and attaining a kind of softness and smoothness. The ingredients you need will probably already be in your kitchen. You can prepare it quickly and easy. A prime example is an oatmeal and oil scrub. This recipe is one of the simplest variations on this well-known skin aid. You’ll need:

  • ½ cup oats
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • Blender or grinder

For the face, grind the oats to a fine powder. Then, mix with the oil (or some of it) to create a slightly-liquid mixture. Some do it with raw honey instead of oil, but it’s a judgment call.

For a body scrub, the oats don’t have to be ground into a fine powder, but the flakes should be small and thin. The resulting mixture should be thicker than the one used for your face.

Olive oil is not a must, but some add it for an extra kick. If you leave the oil out, then be sure to wet your hands with water. Make sure you knead the oats to make a paste. Then slather it on and rinse it off after a few minutes. Aveeno is famous for using oats and its derivatives in their products, and there are many other companies who follow suit and make use of natural ingredients as key players in proper skincare.

Conclusion

There are odds and ends which may affect your exfoliation process. You want to get the job done right without overdoing it. This can take some trial and error. As you age, the time it takes your skin to regenerate will lengthen somewhat, so there is that to take into account as well. Also, for the ladies, hormones have a lot to do with the behavior of your skin. Women may notice changes in the days leading up to menstruation and during the cycle. Of course, they may notice changes during pregnancy and after birth.

There are so many treatments and procedures geared towards skincare. Some are more natural than others. What you eat, how you sleep, and the way you live could all have an effect on the way that your skin looks and feels. If you have sensitive skin, consider speaking with a dermatologist before settling on a routine. You can’t stop the clock, but you can take advantage of the fact that skin is one of the most regenerative things in the human body.

Exfoliating is a relatively short and easy process. Technically, you can exfoliate fairly often without causing harm to the face or body. As long as you follow the instructions and be gentle, you will be able to get into a proper routine and rediscover that glow and radiance. If you happen to notice any redness or discomfort due to exfoliating, take some days off and let your skin heal before getting back at it.