Exfoliation is a word that is often thrown into the topic of healthy skin care with very little to back it up. At least, that is to say, we’re always told to exfoliate but rarely told exactly why it’s important. There’s more to exfoliation than pearl bead-infused body scrubs and gentle scrubbing bath mitts and it becomes particularly important to exfoliate mature skin.
Before we get into the essentials of exfoliating aging skin, we’d like to cover the basics – what is skin exfoliating and why is it so important?
In short, exfoliation is the process of removing dead skin cells that cover the top layer of the skin. It’s important to exfoliate the skin at least once a week as these cells gather and can leave the skin looking and feeling dull. They also tend to create a blockage and can be the underlying cause of a number of skin problems.
So, why is it important to exfoliate mature skin?
As we age, our body’s ability to renew itself tapers down somewhat and that is perfectly reflected in the skin. Dead skin cells are slower to slough away than they were in our youth. For example, a baby’s skin regenerates every 14 days or so, whereas aging skin of 50 years takes over a month to regenerate fully – 37 days to be exact.
While your skin may regenerate every 37 days after the age of 50, the problem remains that the skin cells don’t effectively fall off the skin, leaving your skin looking dry, and feeling rough.
Exfoliating can, therefore, be the quickest ticket to healthy, glowing skin even as you grow older. It can also reduce the appearance of unsightly blemishes and allow your skin to breathe well. Beware, though, as many an avid exfoliator can tell you that it can tire the skin out to exfoliate too often and as your skin ages, it thins, leaving it extremely vulnerable to external abrasives. It’s vital to find the best solution for your skin type, or you could end up damaging your skin cells permanently.
What is the best way to exfoliate mature skin?
There are two kinds of exfoliation, mechanical and chemical. The mechanical method refers to scrubbing the skin in order to exfoliate it while chemical exfoliation makes use of products which contain acids that remove the dead skin cells without harsh scrubbing.
Both methods are acceptable depending on your skin type and how thin the skin is. Exfoliation is essentially good for the whole body, so you may even have to make use of the different methods for each part of your body.
It’s vital to choose the right product as some of the chemical exfoliates may be too harsh on sensitive skin. With that said, a gentle chemical exfoliate is one that can do wonders for your skin without breaking it the way scrubbing could do.
If you, however, choose to stick to mechanical exfoliation for your aging skin, be sure to exfoliate gently and avoid abrasive products. Exfoliates which contain hard granules often break the skin even without pressure applied. Look for something like a soft bead-infused gel to use with a gentle cloth.
Exfoliate your skin mechanically by gently brushing your skin in a circular motion, taking particular care around the eyes where the skin is very thin.
How often should one exfoliate mature skin?
Contrary to popular belief, there is simply no need to do this more than once a week as you age. Exfoliation this often is great for younger skin which regenerates more frequently but even then overdoing the exfoliation routine can have disastrous effects. Rather, stick to exfoliating once a week [at most] or once every two weeks.
As a last note, pair your exfoliation routine with an effective moisturizer in order to keep your skin well-nourished and feeling soft and supple. A moisturizer which contains plenty of vitamins A and E are perfect as they will help replenish lost nutrients and counter aging effects.