If you’ve spent much time on our site you may have noticed that at MojaWorks, we are really into exfoliation. Most people have heard that they should make exfoliation a part of their daily skin care routine, but not much beyond that. Here, we’ll tell you a little bit more about the “Why” of exfoliation and how to do it in the best way for your skin.
Cell turnover rate when you’re young & old
We all know that people have amazing skin when they’re young and it progressively goes down hill the older we get. Your skin is constantly getting replaced from the inside out. New skin cells are created in the dermis and slowly cycle upward to the outermost layer of the epidermis where they eventually flake off. When you’re a baby, your skin cells cycle out so quickly that you have completely new skin every 14 days.
As you age, that turnover typically slows down to between 30 and 40 days by the time you’re middle aged. This means that scars don’t heal as quickly, your skin’s melanocytes give off uneven pigmentation after suffering sun damage, and your epidermis starts to take on a dull appearance. An excess of dead skin cells can also block pores trapping sebum and bacteria which can cause breakouts as well.
Kick-start your skin
Exfoliation serves a few purposes, which is why we like it so much. The most obvious benefit is that it sloughs off dead skin cells that make even application of makeup difficult and give the skin a dull appearance. Another reason it’s so great is that effective exfoliation evenly stimulates your skin’s immune response. Because your skin gets complacent the older it gets sometimes it needs a little kick start to do its job.
Exfoliation works like lifting weights in some ways. When you lift weights, you create tiny tears in your muscles. When your body goes to repair those tears it doesn’t just put everything back where it was before, it reinforces and improves upon it. The same is true of your skin. When you exfoliate, you trick your body into thinking that it needs to repair damage in the area. Your body thinks, “Well, as long as I’m in here, I may as well fix this pigmentation and my pH level.”
Chemical vs. Physical Exfoliation
Chemical exfoliation is caused by putting a chemically reactive substance on your skin that burns off dead skin cells and stimulates new growth. If you’ve ever had a chemical or enzyme peel (aka “fruit” peel), used Retinoids, or even used a product with salicylic acid in it, you’ve chemically exfoliated your skin. A lot of skin care products formulated for aging skin contain low amounts of ingredients like glycolic acid which can be very beneficial. However, depending on the concentration, they can exacerbate certain skin conditions like rosacea or increase photosensitivity (which is why most estheticians will recommend starting a peel series during the colder months). It’s important to be in tune with your skin type and pay attention to the concentration of any chemical exfoliant you plan on using it regularly.
Physical exfoliation is caused by physically removing dead skin cells from the skin by rubbing something abrasive on it. Some ways of doing this are using things like a scrub (which can contain things like sugar, sodium bicarbonate, ground up apricot pits, or micro-beads made out of tiny, round pieces of plastic), an oscillating scrubbing brush, microdermabrasion, or dry brushing. As you might have guessed, our MojaFiber cloths fall under the physical exfoliation category as well.
Physical exfoliation is not all created equal. Something like a pumice stone, which is great for exfoliating the thick soles of your feet, would be horrible to exfoliate your face with. Likewise, microbeads are usually well-liked by people with incredibly sensitive skin, but someone without that constraint would likely want something more substantial.
MojaFiber cloths have two sides, one for cleansing and one for exfoliation. Because we kept the fibers shorter on the exfoliation side, they’re slightly stiffer than the cleansing side making them great for daily exfoliation without being too abrasive.
A problem with just about any exfoliation is that it can be tempting to go overboard. Occasionally, intense exfoliation is good if you’re doing something like an annual chemical peel or an intensive monthly facial. However, if you’re doing this kind of thing every day you can really compromise the barrier function of your skin which plays a huge role in your immune function. Over-exfoliating without giving your skin proper recovery time can cause over-active sebaceous glands, burst capillaries, breakouts, and allergic reactions to products you didn’t have an issue with before.
The great thing about exfoliating with a MojaFiber cloth is that it’s hard to overdo it. MojaFiber cloths are specifically designed to be gentle enough to exfoliate your skin daily. This ensures that you get the benefit of regular exfoliation without the risk of causing damage and having to take a break while your skin recovers.