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Sunday, March 3, 2024

Skin exfoliation: how to do it right, and when it can become harmful to health

Exfoliation is the controlled removal of dead cells from the surface of the skin. These cells normally detach from the intracellular matrix, but sometimes they end up clumping together, blocking pores and causing a dull, gray appearance of the skin. Therefore, this process is necessary for healthy skin.

Esthetician Renee Rouland says that it’s important not to overdo skin exfoliation. According to her, excessive exfoliation leads to tiny, invisible cracks in the skin. If exfoliation damages the delicate skin barrier, the skin dries out and irritants can get into deeper layers of the skin. Ingredients that used to be tolerated by the skin may cause a stinging sensation, inflammation and irritation.

To avoid skin sensitization, the expert suggests taking breaks between exfoliation treatments. This means removing dead cells twice a week the most, and always opting for mild formulas. After removing dirt and dead skin cells, apply a moisturizer.

How to do chemical and mechanical exfoliation

Mechanical exfoliation is done either with a scrub or with skin cleansers. Many dermatologists believe that this type of exfoliation is harsh on the skin, and does not recommend it to people who have sensitive skin or blemishes.

AHA and BHA acids are used for chemical exfoliation.

Chemical exfoliants are perhaps the most revolutionary step in skin care, and among the few products that dermatologists recommend to remove the layer of dead cells.

Exfoliant acids are products that, when applied to clean skin, improve skin texture, especially if the skin is affected by acne, signs or spots of pigmentation. Of course, the effects are seen over time, after regular use.

What exactly are AHA and BHA?

Dr. Shari Sperling explained to PureWoW that AHA and BHA are both acids that help exfoliate the skin. AHAs are most commonly available in the form of glycolic acid and lactic acid. Because AHAs are soluble in water, they do not penetrate deep into the skin, which means that they may be used as a remedy for skin problems. Applied to the surface of the skin, they diminish the appearance of wrinkles, acne scars and pigmentation spots. BHA or salicylic acid is soluble in oil and penetrates deeper into the skin, and it is useful for its antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties.

Therefore, although AHA and BHA are both acids, they are used for a different set of problems. In addition to making room for new, healthy cells, AHA stimulates collagen production to help reduce fine lines, wrinkles and hyperpigmentation. If you have dry and dull skin, AHAs are a great way to exfoliate the top layer of skin without drying it out.

BHA penetrates the skin to clean excess sebum from the pores and helps heal blemishes, acne and excess sebum. This explains why most acne products contain salicylic acid. So, if you have a combination and prone to acne, BHA is right for you.

Is it safe to use AHA and BHA together?

Yes. Many cosmetics contain a combination of AHA and BHA. It is beneficial to use them together if you suffer from cystic acne, your skin is prone to acne or you have scars. In other cases, however, the use of the two types of acids should not overlap in your skin care routine; in fact, it is ideal to use the second one after a 3-week break from the first one. For beginners, exfoliating acids should be introduced gradually, 2-3 times a week, in the evenings, without any other active ingredients.

Glycolic acid can be used daily about a month after it has been introduced into the skin care routine.

Dr. Sperling recommends using both acids (not at the same time!) in the evening routine after removing makeup and cleansing the skin, as they increase the skin’s sensitivity to sunlight. During the day, you should apply an SPF cream.

Can anyone use AHA and BHA?

Yes and no. Salicylic acid (BHA) is prohibited during pregnancy and breastfeeding, but glycolic and lactic acid can be used by anyone.

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