We Need Exfoliation However Young Or Beautiful We Be
Old replaces new is the universal law and that applies to our skin too. Yes, its exfoliation time and we are talking anti-ageing. Skin cells of the outermost layer of our skin the epidermis, or more specifically the ‘stratum corneum’ have a life span and after they have served their purpose need to be shed. This isn’t the first time you are reading that our body is gifted with a mechanism to do away with dead skin cells. Neither is the knowledge that dead skin cells are replaced by new ones foreign to any of us.
But what may have slipped the attention of some of you is that with age, cell turnover in our bodies slows down. Dead skin cells fail to fall off and start accumulating in thin layers, giving our skin a dull look and robbing us of that natural glow that every healthy skin is entitled to. Also a sign of ageing. Cell turnover that used to occur once every 15 days when we were younger, is brought down to once every 50 days when we reach our fifties. Our skin begins to tell certain tales that we would most like to hide, that of our age.
Time to take action, time to exfoliate and reveal fresh, glowing skin. To feel and look beautiful even after you step into your forties and march on into a couple of more decades, just as confident. We are taking our skin matters into our own hands and graduating to becoming our own beauticians. We are on the road to anti-ageing.
Its not just dead skin cells we scrub away when we exfoliate, we are also dislodging all the dirt, sebum and bacteria that get trapped in our pores. We live in a hot and humid tropical country, with most cities clouded by pollution. Hence, it’s absolutely imperative that we keep our skin squeaky clean. See what Ole Henriksen, the skin-care honcho has to say of exfoliation.
Did you know (superficial) exfoliation can start as early as the age of 15? Medical exfoliation is another story and can wait till the age of 18.
What Are The Exfoliation Solutions Available ?
- OTC peels, scrubs and cleansers.
- Salons and derma clinics with their mechanical and chemical peels and facials.
- Home made DIY scrubs and face packs.
- Face brushes to be used along with skin products.
Now exfoliation is a delicate job and needs a good understanding of when and how much is safe or good for our skin. We do not want to irritate our skin more than it is already, due to ageing and environmental factors. As Dr Jamuna Pai, India’s leading medical cosmetologist puts it, there is a certain hierarchy to exfoliation that is to be followed.
- Superficial (mechanical/DIY) exfoliation
- Medium Depth (salons ) exfoliation
- Deep (medical) exfoliation.
Superficial, or mechanical exfoliation is the simplest of the three and can be carried out at home by us, using home-made exfoliation solutions, or OTC cleansers and scrubs. It removes the oldest and most superficial skin cells that cling to the epidermis. Most often, a superficial exfoliation suffices if we have been taking good care of our skin with a proper diet and a good amount of exercising. Salons and clinics can be reserved for treatments that need expertise and precision. Hence this blog post does not include medium depth and deep exfoliation.
Superficial exfoliation should be done once every 7-10 days if you have normal or combination skin and twice in the same time frame if you have oily skin.
All it takes is 10-15 minutes of your time from start to finish. A few kitchen ingredients and one or two mixing cups and bowls. It’s certainly a bit of work vis-a-vis picking up a vial off the shelf, but it is work that is fun and therapeutic. The satisfaction of having worked magic on your skin! No chemicals leaching into your system and no shelling out bills at the store counters. Environment-friendly and pocket-friendly! Anti-ageing at your fingertips. Is that enough reason for you to turn to home-made skin solutions? I have been using lemons and tomatoes extensively for their Vitamin C content, but more on that in another blog devoted to the benefits of Vit C.
And just in case you thought only your facial skin needs exfoliation, no ! Treat the rest of the skin on your body equally well. But do remember, facial skin is a lot more sensitive and thinner than the rest of your skin. It is also the first to show signs of ageing. So use scrubs that are particularly meant for the face and some others that can be used on the rest of the body. Elbows, knees and feet tend to be drier and darker than the rest of the body due to continuous surface contact friction and need an extra rub of exfoliation, but do not forget to moisturise the areas soon after.
Blanket Tips :
- Moisten the skin always, never exfoliate dry skin. (Some on the internet will tell you that it is okay to do so, but pop that question to your dermatologist or beautician and they will gainsay it. Go with what your doctor says).
- If you opt for OTC products, remember to go in for pharmaceutical products.
- Having your own dermatologist to consult is as important as having a family physician.
How To Exfoliate ?
- Moisten the skin.
- Scoop out a good amount of the exfoliating product in your hand or in a cup and layer it all over the required skin area. Gently rub in circular motions for a few minutes. Leave it on if recommended, else wash it off with tepid water.
- Pat dry with a soft towel.
- Apply gentle pressure, just enough for the product to do its job.
- Caution : Avoid exfoliation immediately before, or after any skin treatment.
There you go, you are now your own beautician, armed with the biggest tool of anti-ageing.
Facial Cleansing Brushes :
I consulted Dr Vidya Ram Pradeep, an eminent dermatologist of Chennai before using one and got a go ahead signal to do so. But exercising caution while using a facial cleansing brush is of utmost importance as otherwise we are likely to cause damage to our skin. Specially those who have sensitive skin must use the brush sparingly or avoid it completely, she says.
Why Facial Cleansing Brush ?
- Because it helps exfoliate a tad more efficiently. The soft gentle bristles of the facial brush scrape away any dead skin cells that may be clinging stubbornly to the skin.
- An added benefit is the gentle massage a facial brush affords you, thereby improving blood circulation to the facial skin.
- It is also known to aid collagen production due to its massaging action. My personal experience has been that of a newly found smoothness my skin acquired and yes, it felt good.
- An extended benefit of using a facial brush is that when our skin is really clean, the serums and moisturisers get absorbed much better giving skin that dewy look.
- A skin that looks radiant and healthy needs little makeup, do you agree? Can I let you in on a simple secret on what makes our skins glow? Light!! With dead skin cells on the surface, our skin does not reflect light. When we exfoliate, it’s a voila moment – our skin reflects light and pat comes that glow!
Men have started using facial cleansing brushes too, grooming is on the top of the list in todays’s evolved population. Anti-ageing is not just for women!
There are innumerable options in facial cleansing brushes. You can buy them at your neighbourhood cosmetics stores, or order them online. But do read up before you invest in one. Depending on your needs and skin type, you can spend a few hundreds to a few thousands. But it is wise to start small if you have never used one before. Buy an inexpensive good brand of facial cleansing brush for starters, and as you get the hang of it you could invest in one that is multi-functional – providing exfoliation as well as massaging. Many popular brands like Clinique and Sephora come with multiple attachments that include a massager. Here is one (Pixnor) that I use regularly and can be ordered online. It serves the purpose.
People with sensitive or problem skin can avoid facial cleansing brushes. Dr Vidya Ram Pradeep adds a word of caution while using them though. Hygiene must score highest, she says. Facial brushes are to be cleaned thoroughly after every use, dried and stored in a clean pouch or box.
She also advised on being careful while using facial cleansing brushes, or any kind of scrubs and peels on acne prone skin. Acne must be allowed to settle before resorting to any kind of scrub. We must let the skin heal before we peel !
More on scrubs
Me : Are traditional, home-made scrubs better than OTC packaged or pharmaceutical scrubs ?
Dr Vidya : It is more a case of being safe rather than being termed better. Home made scrubs put together from kitchen ingredients work well, but you always run the risk of breakouts if you have sensitive skin and if hygiene is not maintained. A lot of research goes into pharmaceutical products, hence there are lesser chances of your skin reacting adversely to the products. However, if you do not have problem skin and are careful, home made scrubs are all time favourites of all beauty enthusiasts.
Some Home-made Scrubs
Oats, sugar granules, gram flour (besan) and Fuller’s earth (multani mitti) are some kitchen ingredients that are easily available in most homes. Lime and tomato juices, honey, turmeric, rose-water, milk powder, egg yolk, egg white and yogurt are options that you can mix with the former to make a scrubbing paste, depending on your skin type.
Reveal plumper, younger skin with these home-made scrubs :
Normal Skin : 1 tbsp crushed oats, 1 tbsp rose-water, 1/2 tsp honey. Make a smooth paste of these, apply and rub gently, leave it on for 10 minutes. Wash off with cool water and pat dry.
Dry Skin : 2 tbsps honey, 2 tbsps castor oil, 1 tbsp crushed oats. Make a smooth paste of these, apply and rub very gently. Leave it on for 5-7 minutes, wash off with cool water and pat dry.
Oily skin : Cut a medium size tomato into half, dip the cut side into a small dish of sugar, rub on wet skin for 5 minutes. You may have to dip the tomato into the sugar dish a couple of times to complete the scrubbing. Splash face with cool water and pat dry. Tomato is full of an anti-oxidant called lycopene. The sugar granules get the tomato to release more lycopene into the skin to work wonders.
Make a paste of 1/2 tsp lime juice, 1 tsp sugar, 1-1/2 tsps milk powder or Fuller’s earth. Apply, rub gently, leave it on for 10 minutes and wash off with cool water. Pat dry.
Add 1/2 tsp turmeric to 1 tbsp honey, mix well, apply, rub gently and wash off with cool water. Pat dry.
Combination Skin : Combination skin needs a little extra attention as you are likely to have two zones on your face, one oily (nose, chin and forehead) and the other slightly dry (cheeks). Mix 1 tsp fine sugar with 1 tsp oats and a little water. Scrub your face, concentrating on the T zone. Leave it on for 10-12 minutes. Wash it off with cool water. Dab the skin then with rose-water or an oil-free moisturiser.
This blog post would run into pages if I were to list all the recipes that I have with me, hence have jotted just a few. If you need more specific ones, leave behind a note and your email ID in the comments and I shall forward them to you.
Here are a few body scrubs from Astrea that are home-made with natural ingredients. I met the entrepreneur of this enterprise at an organic growers meet and tried out these products, purely because they do not contain any synthetic components. Skin felt smooth and supple for days after the scrub.
Sweet Orange Sugar Scrub
While orange oil has a plethora of uses and benefits, when added in scrubs, creams and lotions, it stimulates the lymphatic system and helps detoxify the skin. It helps improve blood circulation, is a natural anti-bacterial, decreases wrinkles and improves the complexion. The scrub is a happy combination of sweet orange essential oil, almond oil, sugar and natural preservatives. It can be a boon to the relatively drier areas of knees and elbows – an extra scrub will still be safe.
Coffee Vanilla Body Scrub :
Coffee seems to be a boon to the skin, with its anti-inflammatory, skin tightening, skin brightening, skin softening and exfoliating properties coupled with cellulite reduction and treating dark under eye circles. While we have many products for skin smoothing et al, I picked up this scrub for coffee’s ability to dehydrate fatty cells thereby causing the cellulite to appear diminished. Coffee granules, almond oil, sugar, vanilla extract and natural preservatives have gone into this scrub to make it a wonder product. The recommended period for using a scrub is 7-10 days, but if it is cellulite you are working on, you could use it twice a week just on the affected area.
Peppermint Sugar Body Scrub :
Like coffee, peppermint is on the top of the essential oils list, but the one thing that drew me to this body scrub is its pain killing and muscle relaxant properties. It is known to soothe sore muscles and relieve headaches. A study shows that peppermint oil applied topically alleviates Fibromyalgia and Myofascial pain Syndrome. To top it all, it elevates your moods and that makes it a super scrub. Guess it does wonders to use this after a killer workout at the gym ! Smells good and feels good.
You know something? Exfoliation can remain your beauty secret, no one will know whats behind the glow on your face. Really, its most effective, yet absolutely subtle, carried out in the privacy of your bathroom. Even your partner need not know about it. Just smile and take it if people compliment you on your healthy fresh skin. You have just exfoliated and you been your own beautician ! And yes, with the onslaught of pollution and lifestyle stresses, we got to take anti-ageing seriously.
Leave behind a comment if you have seen stunning results with exfoliation.