June 22, 2012
Having attended aesthetics school, I know all about the most extravagant and powerful ways to enhance the skin by exfoliation. Unfortunately, the average woman does not have the funds or spare time to go to the salon to have a routine facial, laser treatment, microdermabrasion session, glycolic peel, or any other service for that matter. There are many ways you can achieve beautiful, youthful looking skin at home for free or at an affordable cost.
For those unfamiliar with the term, exfoliation is the 'shedding of a surface'. In terms of skincare, this basically means the process of getting rid of the top layer of skin which most of the time includes dry, dead, or dirty skin cells. It also improves circulation, can lessen the appearance of cellulite, clears up acne, reduces redness and hyperpigmentation, and smooths fine lines and wrinkles. It's a weekly process that can result in
more radiant and clean looking skin each time it's performed.
The most natural way to exfoliate is to manually rub the skin in circular motions with a tool or exfoliant (product used to exfoliate). Any other motion of scrubbing is fine too as long as it is not rough or does not stretch the skin. If you are applying a mask or peel as a chemical exfoliant, simply spread a thin layer on while avoiding your eyes.
Exfoliating the face is vital to it's health, however it must be done in a gentle manner or else it could result in adverse effects. Be very careful when using any harsh products or tools on your face because the skin there is very delicate. Too much scrubbing and scraping can cause more pigmentation flaws, wrinkles, acne, and other unwanted problems.
It is also very important to not exfoliate your face daily! I know some sources may say it's fine and by all means, it is your choice; however it is not always going to benefit normal skin. The new layer of cells that is revealed needs time heal and 'breathe'; and by scrubbing at it again it will sometimes cause irritation. It can also create more oil production as the skin tries to protect that new layer, which may in turn create breakouts and also possibly broken capillaries, redness, scarring, and other issues.
Treat your face like you would a baby's; it is precious, super delicate, and needs to be handled gently. If you find your face to be super flaky or in need of extra exfoliation, be really light handed. Also, don't go anywhere near your eyes with an exfoliant, including anywhere under the brow to about mid way down the nose.
When it comes to exfoliating the body, there really isn't any rules. The skin is a bit tougher and can handle the abrasiveness of chemicals or scrubbing more often. Personally, I exfoliate my body probably twice or three times a week in the shower. It helps to smooth your skin and make it look more fresh. If you fake bake with a self tanner or just want your moisturizer to soak in deeper, exfoliating right before application will make a big difference. It also helps to prevent or expose ingrown hairs after shaving and waxing too.
The average facecloth that can be found in your bathroom is a perfect light exfoliant and can be added to anyone's routine. Make sure the cloth is wet with water before use and also that it has some sort of texture. I like to put my cleanser on my face and wash it with my fingers first, then before rinsing use the damp cloth to work in the rest of the product. A loofah is another type of material that works well to deep clean the body while exfoliating.
A manual or rotating facial brush is another great tool. The circular motion gets the blood flowing and can help to even out skin tone and fade scars.One of my all time favorite ones that looks like a giant toothbrush actually came from the Dollar Store. I use the same method with the facecloth to exfoliate with this tool, using my hands to cleanse first then going over it again with the brush.
I'm sure you have heard of the ever so popular Clarisonic which is a very expensive vibrating brush. If you have the extra to spend it's useful but for us with beauty budgets doing the rotating manually can be just as effective. If you have your heart set on an electronic exfoliator but don't want to break the bank, try the kit Sigma offers. It's around $40 and comes with a lot of different heads to try, even some that can be used on the body.
Sugar is a sweet way to create smooth skin. Use either white or brown granulated sugar and gently buff it into the skin. Mix it with olive oil or another emollient such as jojoba or honey for a super moisturizing treatment for your body. It's perfect to smooth roughness or bumps as it contains glycolic acid (an alpha hydroxy acid) which breaks down the proteins of dead skin. Actually, the first post I ever did was of my favorite cheap homemade sugar scrub mixture that I still use today.
A little more harsh than sugar, sea salt is another natural exfoliant that can even help to clear up the skin too. A very cheap way to use the salt to your advantage is to rub sand on your body at the beach. The saltiness and grit of the sand works to slough off any roughness. It can be great for drying up acne and getting out the dirt that's deep in the pores. I used this product all last summer and it worked really well for me. Make sure the label reads sea salt and not table salt.
If you're not one of those all natural everything girls, then a store bought scrub can be a convenient option. It may be a bit more expensive, however I have tried a few different scrubs from drugstores like Wal-mart that have been great. The St.Ives Apricot Scrub is a cheaper classic scrub that has little particles of apricot shell in it. There are also some cleansers by Biore and Clean and Clear that have exfoliating beads in them for the most gentle scrub of them all. Use your judgement when deciding whether or not the grit of the scrub is too harsh for everyday use.
Peels & Masks
One of the most fun ways to get that glow is simply slapping on an at home peel or mask. It's a special treatment that feels relaxing while effortlessly making your skin look glowy and fresh. I love the Freeman brand masks that are $3.99 for a good sized tube and come in a ton of varieties. Try the Pineapple Facial Enzyme Mask for a deep weekly exfoliation. Keep in mind that although you are not physically scrubbing at the skin, a mask that says it is exfoliating will still take the place of a manual one. If the mask or peel contains an enzyme or anything citrus or fruity then chances are it's an exfoliant.
Ever since I started to routinely exfoliate my face, I have noticed a huge difference in my skin's texture and appearance. It is definitely less red, and a lot of my acne scars have been faded. I don't get blemishes as often, and my problem black heads are less prominent. I notice that my makeup goes on much smoother, and looks a lot more flawless. Not only does my skin basically look healthier, but I just feel extra clean; like all the impurities are washed away. The skin on my body does look more 'alive' and glowing whenever I exfoliate, allowing my self tan to look more even and to make me look more bright and fresh.
Try adding this extra step to your skincare routine and see if you can tell the difference.
What is your favorite type of exfoliant to use?
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