From Tara Pelletier, Founder of Meow Meow Tweet
Exfoliation is pretty simple: it’s removing dead cells from the surface of your skin. It can be a confusing topic because of conflicting information on what products to use, how often to use them and why you use them. The summertime, in particular, is the moment to prepare your skin for a heavy dose of sun exposure, lots of sweat and even more SPF.
When it comes to natural exfoliation the two best options are manual and enzymatic.* A manual exfoliation is comprised of little particles like sugar, salt and seeds that use friction to physically loosen dead cells from the skin’s surface so that they can be washed away. This is a great option for legs, backs, chests, elbows, feet or other areas that are prone to dryness, blemishes and ingrown hairs. For facial skin and other delicate areas, it’s best to use soft grains like oats, almonds and ground leaves or flowers.
Enzyme exfoliants are most often from fruit like papaya, pineapple and pumpkin that function by dissolving the “glue” that holds the dead skin cells together. They are the most gentle option and are perfect for those with sensitive or blemish prone skin. If you are prone to breakouts on your face, focus on enzymatic exfoliation instead of heavy cleansing which can dry out your skin. This is especially important in the dead heat of summer when you’re sweating more. The skin will cleanse itself without the obstruction of dead skin cells which leads to less blemishes.
If your inclination is to wash until you’re ‘squeaky clean’ or if you crave that ‘massaged your face with a piece of sandpaper’ sensation, it’s time to rein it in! Two times per week is all you need to keep your skin properly exfoliated without over-abrading it or drying it out.
In the summertime, we’re looking for any excuse to go without makeup (because even your face wants to walk down the street half-naked in the hot, sticky heat). Exfoliating improves your overall skin tone and promotes healthy circulation. It will also help to unclog pores, promote a speedy turnover of skin cells, balance your skin’s oil production, and rid your pores of toxins and dirt. Ultimately, healthier looking skin means you’ll be more likely to put that heavy foundation away until Fall.
Exfoliation also allows better penetration and performance of your personal care products like moisturizers and deodorant. One of the most overlooked parts of the body to exfoliate are your underarms. If you notice that your deodorant isn’t holding up throughout the day, try exfoliating your pits once or twice per week. A build up of old deodorant and dry cells can disrupt the efficacy of your deodorant and cause underarm dryness. A gentle exfoliant like sugar or oats followed with a conditioning moisturizer like our Underarm Primer can make a big difference in staying fresh!
Exfoliation is also a great way to clear up environmental buildup which breaks down collagen and the lipid layer in the skin. If you’re spending a lot of time outside or live in a city, pollution is a major culprit for aging skin, uneven skin tone and blemishes. As I mentioned earlier, your skin naturally regenerates and exfoliation can give it a little help along the way leaving your skin feeling fresh, radiant and glowing.
*I generally don’t recommend chemical exfoliation because it tends to remove dead and live cells and can cause sensitization, damage and irritation to the skin.