Want to have clear, soft, smooth, and radiant skin? Then exfoliate..!!
Exfoliation is an integral part of any self-care regime. It helps remove the dead skin cells, dirt, and debris from the skin surface, revealing smooth, glowing skin. It helps open up clogged pores while preventing breakouts. Exfoliation can be categorized into two popular methods, namely physical and chemical exfoliation.
Physical exfoliation is all about removing dead skin cells by using either granulated scrubs or microdermabrasion. Apart from that, it can also be done with the help of tools such as sonic brushes, loofahs, or textured materials such as sponges and towels.
Chemical exfoliation, as the name suggests, uses chemicals such as AHAs, BHAs, PHAs, and retinol to eliminate dead skin cells from your skin. It uses ingredients with a low PH level to dissolve the dead skin layer. Moreover, it incorporates acids and enzymes to clear clogged pores and remove deep-seated dirt from the skin.
In this article, we will be elucidating on physical exfoliation, its advantages, disadvantages, and its alternatives.
What Is Physical Exfoliation?
When you manually exfoliate your skin to get rid of dead skin cells, dirt, and grime, then it is known as physical exfoliation. Cleansing scrubs, exfoliating mitts, loofahs, pumice stone, micro-needling, body brushes, etc., are generally used for manual exfoliation. You can also prepare some DIY scrubs using natural ingredients such as coffee powder, brown sugar, honey, etc as a quick, at-home skin exfoliation recipe.
All physical exfoliators are not created equally, some exfoliators which typically contain larger granules may rupture your skin. But as per our skincare expert, physical exfoliators are not bad, but the present alternatives in the market are way better and gentler.
Advantages Of Physical Exfoliation
Physical exfoliants such as scrubs remove the dead cells from the skin’s surface thereby, improving its overall texture. Ingredients such as walnut shells, apricot, sea salt are the key ingredients in many scrubs. Their micro granules physically scrub off the dry flaky layer, revealing smooth, healthy skin which radiates with a slight sheen.
Massaging physical exfoliators in a circular motion helps to increase blood circulation while improving the cell regeneration process. It can also effectively reduce the occurrence of cellulite in specific areas of the body. Other benefits include having fewer chemical interactions with other skincare products, as well as evening out the skin tone.
Disadvantages Of Physical Exfoliation
Physical exfoliators are abrasive in nature and if not used properly, they can rupture your skin and damage the skin cells. This method is not ideal for people with sensitive or acne-prone skin as it causes micro-tears. Applying too much pressure while using physical exfoliators can cause the blood capillaries underneath the skin to break. Besides, it shouldn’t be used by people with dry and sensitive skin as it can cause further skin irritation or trigger an allergic reaction on already inflamed skin.
Before choosing an OTC physical exfoliator you should check the label and make sure that it does not contain microbeads or exfoliating agents which are big in size.
Can Physical Exfoliation Damage My Skin?
People with dry and sensitive skin should avoid physical exfoliation. Scrubs are considered to have a detoxifying effect as it helps eliminate dead skin cells, along with dirt and grime. The first rule of thumb is that any kind of exfoliation should be done in moderation; excessive scrubbing can adversely affect your skin.
The outer layer of the skin acts as a protective shield against external damage. When this layer is abrased due to over scrubbing, your skin becomes more susceptible to UV rays and pollutants. This in turn can result in tanning and breakouts. In some cases, scrubs may contain mineral oil and chemicals which clog the pores leading to blackheads and whiteheads. Post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation can result from scrubbing, which causes the already existing blemishes to darken.
As per our skincare expert, a mild homemade scrub can be used if you want to scrub on a frequent basis. While most dermatologists are not in favor of physical exfoliation, they suggest using only natural ingredients for it.
How To Heal Your Ruptured Skin?
Skin inflammation, redness, tiny pustules, or bumps on the skin are indications of over-exfoliation. If you feel a burning sensation while using skin care products, it means that your skin’s moisture barrier is compromised. It’s always better to consult a dermatologist before you do anything on your skin. For mild conditions, here are derm-approved skincare tips to heal your ruptured skin.
The first and foremost thing which needs to be done for healing ruptured skin is to dump all skincare products containing chemicals acids, retinol, artificial fragrance, alcohols as it can further deteriorate your skin condition. Here is an easy-to-follow skincare routine that will accelerate the healing of damaged skin due to over-exfoliation.
- Wash your face with cool water.
- Don’t use a muslin cloth or washcloth as it can irritate your sensitive skin. It is best to use a cotton pad as it is quite gentle.
- Tone with pure rose water because it is considered to cleanse and moisturize your skin in a gentle way.
- You can apply rose water to your skin with a cotton pad. In case you feel the cotton pad is abrasive on your skin, you can fill rose water in a spray bottle and spray the solution as and when required. It has a soothing effect on inflamed skin.
- Skin moisturizing boosts the protective barrier, helping your skin to recover soon. Adhere to natural oils such as jojoba oil, almond oil, or shea butter for skin hydration.
- Avoid all skin care products containing harsh chemicals, artificial fragrances, and alcohol as they might irritate your already inflamed skin.
- Try to go make-up-free for a few days, so that your skin can breathe, this helps the skin to recover soon.
- Nourish your skin inside out by drinking lots of water and adding a variety of fresh vegetables, fruits, and nuts to your diet. Stay away from processed or canned food, junk food, alcohol, gluten-containing food for at least 1 month as they can cause inflammation.
- Make sure that you keep your skin moisturized and nourished. If you feel your skin has become dry or flaky you can apply natural oils to replenish it. Even pure aloe vera gel is good to heal inflamed, itchy skin. Its soothing and healing properties help in the recovery process.
- Stay away from face peels, massages, face masks, and any kind of exfoliant for 1 month. Give your skin time to recover.
- Cut fresh slices of cucumber and put it all over your face. Alternatively, blend cucumber slices in a blender and apply it all over the affected area.
- Avoid touching your skin frequently.
- Avoid stepping out in the sun, and wear sunscreen even when you are indoors
How To Safely Use Physical Exfoliators For Minimum Skin Damage?
The worst part about over-exfoliation is that the damage is already done, by the time you realize it. So it is best to use natural ingredients such as sugar, oatmeal, natural oil, Himalayan salt, honey, etc to create a homemade scrub. Always choose your exfoliating agent wisely depending on your skin type. The following is a simple, soothing, nourishing, and cooling DIY scrub for your skin.
Ingredients For Natural DIY Oatmeal Scrub
- Oatmeal (grounded) - 1 tablespoon
- Yoghurt - 1 teaspoon
- Take yoghurt and oatmeal in a bowl and mix it well.
- Apply this mixture gently on your face and neck.
- Let it rest for 10 minutes and wash off with cool water.
The Best Alternative To Physical Exfoliation
With the advent of new scientific discoveries in the skincare world, experts are now refraining from suggesting physical exfoliation for skin cleansing. In fact, their inclination towards chemical exfoliants is a testimony of the efficacy of this new method. Alpha Hydroxy acids like glycolic, citric and malic acid along with Beta Hydroxy Acids like salicylic and tropic acids are topping the charts as favorable skin exfoliants.
When used in moderation, these help resolve a variety of skincare problems without being over abrasive. While many people steer clear of them because of the words “chemicals” and “acids” involved, in reality, they are far gentler on the skin compared to physical exfoliants that notorious for rupturing the skin’s barrier. Plus, the efficacy rate of chemical exfoliants is much better, as it reveals instant results.
Like everything else, using heavy doses of AHAs, BHAs and retinoids can damage the skin, therefore, it is advisable to go slow in the beginning. Seeking guidance from dermatologists will help in gauging the extent of how much a person can delve into exfoliation while keeping their skin conditions and type in mind.
The large majority of skincare enthusiasts ditching scrubs and physical exfoliants for chemical exfoliants, is evidence enough of the latter being a much better alternative. Therefore, it’s time to bid adieu to the archaic skin exfoliating methods and embrace the advanced techniques that are gentler and more effective. Face washes with AHAs and BHAs are a very good starting point to introduce chemical exfoliation in one’s skincare routine. With its regular use, skin becomes smoother and illuminates with a healthy glow!
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