Did you know that between 30,000 and 40,000 dead skin cells fall off your skin
every hour. Over a 24-hour period, you lose almost a million skin cells. No wonder we’re now realizing how important it is to exfoliate. Exfoliation never used to be such a big thing. A few generations back, women just used to cleanse with a cream cleanser and leave it at that. However, we now know that regular exfoliation leads to a much cleaner, smoother skin. It’s also fascinating to realize that new cells are formed in the lowest level of the epidermis and slowly make their way up to the uppermost level, where they die and eventually fall off. This process takes about 3 weeks to a month in an adult, so the skin you see today will be gone in one month’s time, only to be replaced with a brand new upper epidermal layer.
The skin cell turnover of kids is much faster. When we get older, the process can take longer, which leads to rough, uneven skin. Think about the heels of your feet pre-pedicure. They are rough until they have been thoroughly exfoliated – similar thing with the skin all over your body, including your face!
If you are not exfoliating regularly, you will simply be sticking dead skin cells back onto your face with moisturizer, so it makes sense to exfoliate everyday. The only contraindication would be someone suffering from acne, eczema, rosacea or extremely sensitive skin. These skin conditions need a particular kind of exfoliation, which should be prescribed by a dermatologist.
There are many different kinds of exfoliation for different skin conditions. At the extreme end of the scale, you have laser procedures, where a good few layers of skin are burned away. This is obviously the most dramatic measure and is usually chosen to deal with wrinkles and bad sun damage. We then go to strong chemical peels, which are typically done in a dermatologist’s office. These can have you out of commission for a couple of days and often contain really harsh and sometimes toxic chemicals. A gentler more natural approach is an AHA/glycolic/fruit acid peel – again very effective in dealing with sun damage, however, you will need to do these regularly. Finally, there the simple exfoliation that comes either as a kind of scrub, or as part of the formulation of a cleanser.
Many of these procedures and products can be very expensive, so I want to show you how to make two very simple products that will help you enormously, and cost you pennies.
AHA/Fruit Acid Peel.
Many fruits contain acids that will “un glue” the stubborn dead skin cells. Once unloosened, these cells will easily rinse off. This peel should be done once a week for about 6-8 weeks.
1/2 fresh pineapple, peeled and juiced
1 fresh papaya, peeled, de-seeded and juiced
Simply pour the juice into an ice cube tray and freeze overnight. When ready to use, cover yourself with a towel (it can get messy) and rub one cube over your face, neck, chest and backs of hands. Leave for 10 minutes, then rinse off. Moisturize as usual.
Daily Exfoliating Scrub
This is great for using in the shower everyday. All you need is 3 simple kitchen ingredients. It doesn’t really matter how much of each you put in – you can play with this recipe, however, the amounts below work well for me.
1 cup instant oatmeal (if you are using regular oats, grind them up first)
1/2 cup powdered milk
2 tsp cornmeal
1/2 cup dried lavender flowers (optional).
Simply mix all the ingredients in a bowl and transfer to a jar with a lid.
Keep it in the shower. When in showering in the morning, empty about 1 tbsp in the palm of one hand, and add enough water to make a thick paste. Massage it over your face, neck and chest and rinse off in the shower as usual.
Tip: If you don’t want to make your own AHA peel, and want a product that is super-effective, I highly recommend the Sunshine Botanicals Payaya Peel System. Although it seems pricey, you get a minimum of 12 peels from it, and compared to a deep peel at your derm, it’s good value.