As part of a project that I have been working on for some months now, where I have experts in their respective fields speak to you about skin care, we are continuing our discussion on exfoliation and today I am so honored to have weighing on the subject one of our own family members, Aisha Massac, owner of Mankind Grooming For Men. She is also a Licensed Estheticians & Professional Makeup Artist based in Washington, DC. So sit back and enjoy the read on exfoliation 🙂 and Thank you Aisha Massac!
Exfoliation made simple
What is exfoliation? Exfoliation is the removal of surface dead skin cells, with the ultimate goal being to clear debris and free the retired cells to allow for better absorption, circulation, and brighten dull skin by promoting skin renewal.
These dead skin cells, left on the surface, slow down healthy cell renewal, increase the depth of wrinkles and create a dull, sluggish appearance. The more you effectively exfoliate, the younger the skin looks and the better your skin care products can penetrate the skin.
However, too much exfoliation can cause redness and skin sensitivity. You should exfoliate no more than three days per week, as to not cause irritation or sensitive skin. If you already have sensitive skin as well as skin that easily hyperpigments, I would not recommend exfoliating since it can make your skin more sensitive and hurt your skin barrier. If you just HAVE to exfoliate (even outside of my recommendation), use an emollient based exfoliant and ONLY once a week; a light AHA would be a great option being that it’s moisturizing. A great option would be Dr. Perricone’s Advanced Face Firming Activator.
There are two types of exfoliation methods:
The most common form of exfoliation is physical exfoliation, which is mechanically removing superficial layers of the skin. This can be done with a face loofah, brush, washcloth, or with exfoliating cleansers. Mechanical exfoliators that utilize abrasive agents with sharp edges actually scrape and cut the skin. Abrasive agents such as apricot seeds (St. Ives being the most popular), granulated peach kernels, corn cob, silica, walnut shells and sugar instituted a major following in the ‘80s, followed by brushes, sponges, and loofahs. These all resulted in pulled, torn, stretched, abraded and traumatized skin that was covered with microlesions. Microlesions can lead to bacterial invasion, further leading to acne and/or wrinkles. Better options for physical or mechanical exfoliation are the Clarisonic skin brush and/or home microdermabrasion device (using aluminum oxide crystals). The Clarisonic has different skin brushes for different types of skin (Acne, Sensitive, Normal), and it allows you to adjust intensity for light or deep cleansing, and to avoid irritation. Other than the clarisonic, a mild exfoliating scrub is a great way to go to get a refreshed and clean look to the skin. An option for a more mild mechanical exfoliant would be almond meal, corn meal, or even baking soda, which can be added to your cleanser.
A professional mechanical exfoliant favorite of mine is the Dermalogica’s Daily Microfoliant, which uses a rice-based enzyme powder, that when mixed with water, activates the papain and salicylic acid.
Chemical exfoliation, in essence, dissolves the “glue” that binds the dead skin cells together. Chemical exfoliation involves applying products containing a form of alpha hydroxy acid and/or beta hydroxy acid that dissolve this “glue” around the skin cells, hastening the shedding of several layers of the epidermis. Estheticians throughout the world have long preferred enzymes for exfoliation such as pineapple, papaya and pumpkin, typically found in a mask form, to exfoliate the skin. These enzymes are natural forms of AHAs. My favorite type of chemical exfoliation is enzyme exfoliating products over the AHA’s and BHA’s. I absolutely love June Jacobs Perfect Pumpkin Peeling Enzyme Masque. I also love Jan Marini’s SkinZyme Papaya Mask. Other popular chemical exfoliation methods, found in the skincare world are retinoids. Retinoids are in the same family of Vitamin A and is used to treat some forms of acne, aging, and even psoriasis. Although retinoids can cause flaking, they don’t typically cause dryness – this flaking is the sloughing off of dead cells. Retinoids are also known to cause irritation or sensitivity and must at all times be used with caution in sunlight. *Note: look for retinoids that are encapsulated.Regular use of alpha- or beta- hydroxy products or clay-based masks is of utmost importance to help reduce breakouts and remove dead skin buildup that could clog pores. These are among the most effective exfoliating ingredients. Because AHAs are water-soluble, they can penetrate deeper into the skin’s surface to lift the dead cells. However, caution must be given as they may irritate sensitive skin if used in too high a concentration. On the other hand, BHA (or salicylic acid) is fat-soluble, and doesn’t penetrate below the epidermis.
**Note: If you have sensitive skin or a skin condition, such as rosacea, eczema, seborrhea, or dermatitis, you may want to consult your doctor or dermatologist to find the most effective exfoliating method for your skin type.
**Note: Do NOT use products that contain more than one of the above in one product
1. Wash your face
2. Take medium to large amount of exfoliant (about the size of a dime to a nickel) and gently apply to damp skin.
3. Massage the exfoliant over your skin. Never press into your skin – you are not sanding wood! Avoid your eye area, as this is a delicate area.
4. Use a washcloth or damp cloth to wipe clean with warm water
5. Apply your moisturizers and serums.
Written By: Aisha Massac, Licensed Esthetician & Professional Makeup Artist based in Washington, DC
Yes…that is correct. The best way to treat your oily skin is to use…oil!
What?! Are you crazy? I am trying to get RID of the oil. NOT add more oil to my already oily skin! I won’t do it!
Ahhh…but you should. And here is why!
Your skin produces oil to protect and moisturize as well as clean itself. With out the sebum that is produced by the sebaceous glands, our largest organ would not function properly. What we have traditionally done throughout the years, especially those of us with oily skin, is use harsh cleansers and astringents to strip away the oils. So when we go and use these harsh detergents and soaps and strip away our naturally occuring sebum, the skin goes into overdrive and produces even MORE oil to replace and compensate the oil that has been removed.
But my skin feels so icky and tacky and I have dirt all on my skin. How is putting more oil on top of the oil that is there make it any better? Basic chemistry lesson…like dissolves like. Meaning, oil will dissolve oil. It will also clean and replace. So instead of taking that harsh astringent or detergent to remove dirt from your face, take a cotton ball, dipped in oil, and clean your skin. The fresh, clean oil will dissolve the dirty, old oil and replace it with clean oil. Castor oil, which is very antibacterial, is the best oil to use for cleaning your skin. But Castor oil can be overly cleansing and may actually cause your skin to dry out, so you want to dilute it with another oil. An oil that is lighter in weight and not as strong in cleansing as Castor oil. Here comes Jojoba oil (my personal choice). This oil is the BEST oil to use. Jojoba is actually a liquid wax. Much like the sebum that our own skin produces. When it comes to cleaning and replacing the oil on your skin, Jojoba is the best oil to use as it is the only vegetable oil that closely matches human sebum. The following is a list of oils that can be used with Castor oil to help with the cleaning and moisturizing regimen for your skin. You will also see which oils are good for the type of skin your have.
- Jojoba (all skin types, but very desirable for acne-prone skin)
- Sweet almond (all skin types, especially oily)
- Grapeseed (all skin types, especially oily)
- Avocado (dry and aging skin)
- Sunflower Seed (all skin types)
- Olive (all skin types)
- Apricot Kernel (dry, aging, and normal skin)
- Argan (all skin types, especially aging skin … very pricey)
- Tamanu (all skin types … very pricey)
Depending on your skin type, you are going to want to blend one or two of these oils with Castor oil to do your oil cleansing routine. Use the following ratios as guidelines, but keep mixing until you get the right combination for you. So I would recommend that you start with very small amounts at first until you get that perfect ratio!
For Oily Skin, you want to use MORE Castor oil than the other oil. So your ratio may be something like 3:1. Meaning 3 parts Castor Oil to 1 part carrier oil (any of the above oil)
For Normal Skin equal parts Castor oil to any of the carrier oil.
For Dry Skin you will do the reverse of Oily Skin and do 1 part Castor oil to 3 parts carrier oil.
Now keep mixing until you get a comfortable ration. This is on the diluted end but you will know your own skin best and you can mix it up how you like. Just remember, the oilier the skin, the more Castor Oil you want in your formulation. The drier the skin, the less Castor Oil you want in your formulation. A quick note about using this method to cleanse the face. With the first several applications, you will see your face actually look a bit…worse. Meaning more breakouts and the sort. Do Not Worry! This is normal. I remember when I did this years ago…I used only Jojoba Oil. My face broke out and I was freaking out! But after a couple of days it cleared up. Why did this happen? Remember the cleansing action of the oils? What the oils do, especially Castor Oil, is break up the dirt and draw out the impurities in the skin. So while you are starting this method of treatment, you will notice a change in how your skin looks and how it feels as the oils pull out the dirt and impurities. But be strong! The clear, even balanced skin will shine through.
How to use this method to clean the face!
OF course you have now found your favorite blend and ration. CONGRATULATIONS! Now you will begin putting it to you on your skin. The best time of course to do this is at bedtime.
1. You have your dirty face!
2. Rinse lightly with warm water.
3. Take your oil blend and pouring some in the palm of your hand and gently massage into your face and skin in an upwards movement. Do this massage for about two minutes. You can let the oil sit on the skin for an extra 30 seconds to let the oil combination to penetrate your skin and remove the dirt and impurities.
4. Rinse with very warm water. Take your clean wash cloth and soak it in the warm to hot water. Make sure the water is not so hot that it burns the skin.
5. Wipe clean with the washcloth.
You are finished! Remember, when you are first using this method of cleansing, your skin will react funny. It will take some time to get accustomed to and you may find that this is not the method for you. But if you do choose to use this method to clean your skin, you will notice a difference within a couple of weeks. Your skin will begin to balance out and you will see your problems slowly disappear.
Now you can fight or clean your oily skin with…OIL!
This post was put together with information gathered through research, personal use and online research via medical blogs and health and beauty blogs (Crunchy Betty and WebMD)