There are wide arrays of scrubs available on the market, with new ones coming out each and every day. From apricot to coffee, from chemical to natural, the world of exfoliation has becoming quite confusing. But it’s important, like with any part of your skin care, to know why you’re using the products that you are using. What is the point of exfoliation? Or, most importantly why should we exfoliate?
Shedding Our Outer Armor
Your skin is the largest organ in your body. It protects you from germs, bacteria, pollutants, and the sun. In order to effectively protect you, it goes through a constant state of regeneration. This constant state of regeneration is your body’s natural process of exfoliation.
Natural exfoliation occurs when the cells of the outer most layer of your skin (stratum cornuem cells) detach and are removed from your skin's surface. The removed cells are then replaced through a renewal process whereby new cells, produced at the lowest level of your skin are pushed upwards through the layers of your skin (the basal layer, the stratum basalis, the stratum spinosum and the stratum granulosum) creating a new outer most layer of skin.
This is an ongoing process, which generally takes 4 weeks. However, this four-week regeneration process is slowed down by aging and other skin conditions.
How Aging Affects Our Body’s Exfoliation Process?
Aging affects your skin’s natural exfoliation process in two ways. Firstly, aging slows down the rate of cellular regeneration and therefore the rate of skin renewal. The second effect of aging on skin renewal is on the actual shedding of skin. An adhesive, known as corneocytes, holds your skin cells together. In the outer layer of your skin, this adhesives needs to be broken down in order for your skin cells to shed and new skin, healthy, skin cells to be revealed. Enzymes released by your skin and hair follicles break down this adhesive.
As you age, the adhesive between skin cells on the outer most layer of your skin becomes denser and therefore more difficult for your skin’s enzymes to breakdown. These two factors make it more difficult for skin to naturally exfoliate as you age; which is the very reason why using scrubs becomes even more important as the years pass by.
How Scrubs Assist In The Body’s Natural Exfoliating Process?
The use of scrubs helps your body with its natural exfoliating process by acting as mechanical exfoliants. Mechanical exfoliants are small particles which when rubbed against the skin remove the outer most layers (by loosening the corneocytes), revealing plump healthy cells.
Continued use of scrubs has been found to have several great benefits simply by assisting the body’s natural process of exfoliation. Some of those benefits are:
- Improves the texture of the skin;
- Makes the skin look more radiant;
- Reduces appearance of wrinkles and fine lines;
- Promotes collagen building;
- Cleans clogged pores;
- Improves skin's thickness;
- Reduces brown spots;
- Improves skin cell renewal;
- Removes the dead skin layer and allows the active ingredients in skin care products to reach the inner layers of the skin
Selecting The Right Mechanical Exfoliants
As great as mechanical exfoliants are, it’s important to select the right one for you and the environment. Let’s start with the environment; mechanical scrubs contain tiny particles, which are either natural or chemical. Chemical made exfoliants are often not biodegradable and end up in our water supplies and thereby negatively affecting our environment. Natural exfoliants on the other hand are biodegradable, natural to the environment and therefore do not negatively effect the environment, plus they are just as effective at mechanically exfoliating your skin.
The second factor that’s important when selecting exfoliants is their moisturizing ability. After your old skin cells are removed via natural mechanical exfoliants, it is important to moisturize the newly revealed skin cells. Therefore it’s important to select scrubs which contain natural oils and butters, which will nourish your skin and leave it deeply moisturized.
When selecting skin care products its important to know how each product affects your skin and ultimately what it is doing to your skin. We hope the next time you're selecting a scrub you’ll reflect on the knowledge you gained and select the right scrub for you.