Expert's Opinion

All About Exfoliation

By Suki Kramer, Skin care expert and creator of Suki, Inc. | December 21, 2011

Suki Kramer investigates the latest methods to brighten skin.

Dead skin cells…the cause of a dull appearance, blocked oxygen flow and clogged pores. Exfoliation…an essential treatment choice which allows fresh live cells to flourish, giving skin the chance to absorb ingredients fully as well as give it that healthy glow everyone desires.

Our skin naturally exfoliates about every 28 days, but especially as we age, it can only shed so much itself. Exfoliation is key in maintaining healthy even tone, texture, smoothness, softness, jump starting collagen production, preventing blemishing, clogging, minimizing dark spots, wrinkles – and at this point we’ve run the gambit, looking for more, better, safer, gentler, anything in exfoliates – from machines to a chemicals to naturals. The options are endless.

Whatever you choose, knowing your client’s skin is key, as each has its possible side effects as well as benefits.

Physicals / Chemicals
Apricot, sugar, walnuts, rice, we’ll even try pumice to buff that top layer away and that’s manual exfoliation – using a scrub-like product for a “sand paper-like” effect. Not quite in that crude, but technically, the point. Both super-effective and potentially, in the wrong hands, harsh.

Enzymes like papain, pumpkin, mango...penetrate, eat away or “digest” the cells that are sort of “glued in place.” Just like probiotics help digest enzymes internally, they work to rid the skin of toxins and dirt. Gentle and no known cons.

Alpha Hydroxy Acids(AHA) come from natural sources such as sugarcane, sour milk, apples, cranberry...they actually “burn” off cells. Each source has a different molecular size, which governs how far the acid can penetrate the dermis or whether it can simply exfoliate. Can be too harsh for some skin types or people sensitive to orange juice or who get cold sores. 30% or more concentrations of alpha hydroxy acids are applied for 5-15 minutes-plus depending on skin type, issues and goals. Varying strengths and amount of time they remain in contact with skin will determine how deeply the peel penetrates.

Beta Hydroxy Acids(BHA) come from ingredients like salicylic acid (naturally derived from white willow). BHA’s eliminate blackheads by working within the lining of oily pores. They also work as powerful anti-inflammatories. No known cons.

What began as a messy, sometimes painful procedure using a rough, crystalline substance applied to skin then vacuumed up with a suction, has evolved into a sophisticated treatment. A diamond-head instrument scrapes away skin’s surface, removes dead cells and clears pores.

Microdermabrasion is a solid treatment for acne scarring and effective for many other indications as well – significant sun damage being one. Treatments begin at intervals of every two weeks for four months, maintenance at every six months. Skin should be rosy but not irritated following treatment for about 20 minutes to one hour.

Laser Resurfacing
Ablative lasers can work superficially or to the deeper layers. They produce dramatic results in diminished wrinkles, scars and surface irregularities. This is real surgery however, which requires anesthesia, incurs pain and downtime. Skin does need to scab and fully heal, which carries the risk of infection, pigment changes and scarring, and can require 4-6 weeks of only initial healing. Clients may need to stay out of the sun for a full year, in some cases, life. Ablative lasers are solely suggested for light skins as a permanent skin bleaching effect can occur.

Many exfoliation techniques are fabulous treatment choices because the results are generally so immediate, the payback for the client infinitely more rewarding than any anti-aging cream’s promise can provide.

About the Author
Suki Kramer is founder, president and formulator of Suki, Inc., dedicated herself to natural health and wellness. She also spends her time educating and writing in her blog,
Sukiscoop, and making public appearances.


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