Exfoliation in skincare is a process of sloughing off dead cells from the surface of our skin. The multitude of face scrub options out there might have got you wondering - how to exfoliate skin the right way? Well, this post will answer all your questions.
Let’s get started with the basics. Did you know that exfoliation is basically of two types - mechanical exfoliation and chemical exfoliation?
Mechanical exfoliation involves physically scrubbing our skin using a scrub, dry brush, or any other skincare tools used for exfoliation. For example, you might have used a face scrub as a part of your skincare routine or a facial.
On the other hand, in chemical exfoliation, you use salicylic acid, glycolic acid (alpha hydroxy acid), or other enzymes that can chemically break down the surface build-up. Most exfoliators are liquids, but you can also find the exfoliating ingredients in cleansers, face creams, and more.
Whether you use a physical exfoliator or a chemical one, the primary purpose of an exfoliator is to remove the build-up of dead cells from the surface of the skin. Sloughing off the dead skin cells is very important as the skin’s natural ability to shed dead cells will slow down as we age. Therefore, leading to a dull complexion. Regular exfoliation will also help other products work better as they won’t have to work on top of many build-ups. (1)
Skin exfoliation is always refreshing. It’s like setting back your complexion to its natural and fresh state, especially when you wear lots of makeup and your skin feels congested. Everybody says that exfoliation is a crucial step in a well-rounded skincare regimen. But, what else an exfoliation habit does to your skin other than sloughing off dead skin cells?
Well, skincare experts say that it does a lot! Regular exfoliation increases skin’s clarity, youthfulness, radiance, and this is just a start. The following is the list of other benefits. (2)
Dead skin cells seal the pores, and when the sebaceous glands produce oil, it gets stuck under those dry skin cells clogging the pores. This causes breakouts as there is no way for the oil to go.
Exfoliation is an effective way to unclog these pores. Exfoliation also avoids stubborn stoppages in the form of blackheads and whiteheads (which are hard to get rid of).
When you sweep away the dry and dead skin along with the other surface debris that might remain on your skin after cleansing, you automatically stop them from making their way into your pores.
Just like how unclogging pores helps in preventing blackheads and whiteheads, in the same way, it also helps in preventing other blemishes. Exfoliation also prevents clogging of pores, which in turn reduces acne. (3)
Exfoliation unclogs pores, smoothens the surface of the skin, and removes all dry and dead skin. This allows your skincare products (serums, moisturizers, and the like) to penetrate the skin deeper.
Dead skin is a barrier between your serums and skin. By removing it, you allow everything to work better. When the rich, nourishing ingredients penetrate deeper into the skin, they work more effectively. Exfoliation is crucial for your expensive serums and moisturizers to work their magic. The last thing we want is your serums and moisturizers to be blocked by pore-clogging material and dead skin.
Dark spots, hyperpigmentation, rough texture, and acne scars - those who suffer from these skin issues know how challenging it is to treat them. Many inconsistencies in your skin are mainly due to the dead skin cells that haven’t been shed yet. Thankfully, exfoliation helps in evening out your skin tone.
The exfoliants break down dead and dry skin cells while smoothening the skin texture. Over time, your skin begins to appear more uniform. A proper exfoliator also helps in brightening your skin.
It helps look for a natural face scrub that is clinically proven to show these results for the skin. For instance, Kama Ayurveda’s Kumkumadi Face Scrub has natural ingredients such as Saffron, Sunflower Seeds, Lotus, and Cardamom. It’s proven to be effective in smoothening the skin, reducing the pore size, and firming the skin.
Benefits of exfoliation also include stimulating the circulation of oxygen-rich blood to the skin’s surface. Exfoliating the skin also promotes the stimulation of lymphatic drainage for internal cleansing. The former helps in boosting cellular health to reveal glowy, radiant skin. The latter is a form of skin detoxification that works to remove toxins and harmful debris.
Apart from boosting circulation, exfoliation also helps in boosting skin’s radiance by helping cell turnover. By removing dead, dry, or dying cells, skin also keeps fresh and healthy cells on the surface. This results in the clear, bright complexion we all dream of. (4)
Last, but not least, exfoliation also helps in stimulating collagen synthesis. This in turn helps in improving skin’s integrity, texture, and keeping the skin look young, tight, and plump.
The rate at which our skin produces collagen slows down significantly as we age. Still, the very act of exfoliation creates a mild trauma in your skin which helps kick-start your collagen production. This process activates the fibroblasts so that more collagen will be synthesized in the dermis.
Though there are many benefits of exfoliation, there isn’t one particular method that suits all. So, before exfoliating your skin, you need to know what your skin type is. Most importantly, special skin conditions like rosacea and hypersensitivity should be kept in your mind. All types of exfoliation may not work for all skin types. If you have any skin condition, you should consider consulting a dermatologist or better avoid exfoliating altogether.
The following is a step-by-step procedure that will help you set up an exfoliating routine at your home.
Choosing the right product for exfoliation is a crucial step. Besides considering your skin type, you also have to note which body part you wish to exfoliate. You should not use an exfoliation product meant for your face's delicate skin on the body and vice versa. Also, rugged regions like elbows or heels might need special attention.
Remember that your facial skin might cycle between dry and oily or normal to sensitive based on different factors. So, you might need to change the product accordingly. Also, note that different exfoliants work better for men and women.
Read - Which Is The Best Face Scrub For Men?
If you want to reap all the best benefits of exfoliation for your skin, we recommend Kama Ayurveda’s Kumkumadi Brightening Face Scrub for women and Kama Ayurveda’s Himalayan Almond Deep Cleansing Face Scrub For Men.
If you choose a physical exfoliator like a natural face scrub, apply it to a clean, dry face while avoiding sensitive regions like the area around your eyes. If you use a chemical-based exfoliator like a serum, massage a few drops before applying a moisturizer.
If you are using a face scrub, massage it in your skin with wet fingers. If you use a chemical exfoliator, dry fingers evenly massage the product on the skin.
If you use a face scrub, rinse clean with lukewarm water. A chemical exfoliator should, however, have to be left on.
Applying a moisturizer to the skin immediately after exfoliation is very important as it will help prevent any damage and keep your skin hydrated and healthy.
Did you know it is completely possible to get great exfoliation and radiant skin using ingredients in your kitchen? The results are greener, cleaner, and cheaper. The following is the list of ingredients that are great exfoliants. Have a look and mix up your own quite easily.
Honey helps in speeding up the natural exfoliation process. It has humectant qualities that help in attracting moisture, making it a great hydrating facial scrub. (5)
Take a nice-sized dollop into your clean hands. Massage your face gently in a circular motion and rinse clean with warm water.
Yogurt is a great exfoliator. It contains lactic, which has the same alpha hydroxy that is found in skincare treatments. Yogurt helps in soothing, smoothening, and evening out skin tone. (6)
Apply enough plain yogurt all over the face and neck. Let it sit for 20 minutes, and then wash off with clean water.
Sugar cane is rich in glycolic acid, which is another alpha hydroxy that helps in boosting new skin cell production. It also smoothes and softens the skin. (7)
Make a paste using half a cup of white or brown sugar and enough olive or grapeseed oil. Apply the mixture all over the face and neck and massage gently with fingers in circular motions. Let it sit for about 10 minutes and rinse clean with warm water.
Lemon juice is another excellent source of natural alpha hydroxy acid that helps in removing dead skin cells. (8)
Blend one quarter a cup each of lemon juice, grape juice, apple juice and can sugar until all the sugar gets dissolved. Then apply the paste all over the face using a cotton pad. Leave it on for about 10 minutes and rinse clean.
Papaya is rich in the enzyme Papain. Papain is a great exfoliator that dissolves dead skin cells. It can also heal skin and lighten fine lines and age spots.
Select green papaya as papain is most potent in young fruits. Mash the fruit and make a fine smooth paste. Apply it all over the face and neck and leave it on for about 15 minutes. Then, rinse clean.
The jury’s still out on this thing. While exfoliation is a key step in your skincare regimen, how often you should do it entirely depends on you. Cell turnover, on average, occurs every 28 to 30 days in younger adults. This gets slowed down as we age. The complete cell turnover can take up to 50 days in older adults.
Therefore, if you are a young adult, it is recommended you exfoliate on the first day of every month. As the fresh layer of skin on the surface turns over completely for around 30 days.
The frequency of exfoliation also depends on your choice of face scrub. If you opt for an all-natural face scrub like Kama Ayurveda’s Kumkumadi Brightening Ayurvedic Face Scrub, you can reap the benefits of exfoliation twice a week.
Instead of using chemicals or plastic microbeads, this all-natural face scrub has natural exfoliants such as almonds and walnuts, making it safe for frequent use.
Over-exfoliating with harsh facial scrubs will remove the skin’s only protective barrier. If you remove this protective barrier, your skin gets exposed to all the environmental toxins, including the sun (the factor which causes the most severe damage to the skin). So, it is always advisable to use products that encourage a natural cell turnover and also helps in keeping your skin healthy and hydrated.Another great way to reap the benefits of exfoliation every day without harming your skin is to use a mild, natural cleanser with exfoliants. Kama Ayurveda’s Mridul Soap Free Face Cleanser is a traditional blend of herbs, cereals, and pulses ground to a cleansing powder that mildly exfoliates facial skin.
How do you know that you are over-exfoliating your skin? The following are the signs that you are over-exfoliating your skin.
Too often or too harsh exfoliation can result in irritation, redness, inflammation, or burning sensation on the skin. Subsequently, your skin becomes very sensitive and will react to every product that you use.
If such is the case, opt for milder products and use rich emollients. Also, you need to take special care when your skin is wet, to avoid rubbing your skin as much as possible.
Over-exfoliation results in dry skin as it rips off skin’s natural oils, keeping it healthy and hydrated. It removes moisture making the skin look dry and flaky. Extreme dry and flaky skin can also lead to the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines. To alleviate this condition, use a good moisturizer or a serum.
As exfoliation damages the protective layer on the skin, it makes the skin more prone to bacterial infections. This results in increased acne breakouts.
If this is the case, you should stop exfoliating and switch to milder products. Ensure that your skincare products are free from all harmful chemicals to avoid the side effects of exfoliation. Opt for organic and natural skincare product brands such as Kama Ayurveda.
If the skin’s condition doesn’t improve, do check with your dermatologist.
Though the proper exfoliation procedure adds to your glow, giving your healthy, youthful skin, make sure you do not overdo it. As over-exfoliating your skin might result in the same skin conditions that you are aiming to treat.
If you’ve any other questions about exfoliation, you can also book a free consultation with our Ayurvedic beauty experts.
Shreya Dalela is a certified Yoga instructor and a professional dancer trained at The Danceworx. She’s passionate about Ayurveda and holistic living with over 6 years of experience in doing extensive research and content creation in the domain.
An ayurveda doctor with 14 years of experience in yoga, panchakarma and general wellness. Currently working with Kama Ayurveda, analysing and remediating dermatological concerns and queries of the consumers via in-store, virtual and IVR consultation.