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Exfoliate! But why?

We are constantly told to exfoliate. But why? Exfoliating removes the dead skin cells and allows newer cells to shine through. As we age, our skin’s “shedding” cycle doubles in comparison to an infant. This process is known as the Cell Renewal Factor, or cell turnover rate. When new skin cells are produced they travel from the lowest layer of the epidermis to the top layer and will eventually shed off the old cells. Babies take 14 days, teens take between 21 to 28 days and in our middle aged years it nearly doubles to 28 to 42 days. Finally, after we hit 50 years of age, it doubles and it will take us between 42 to 84 days to shed those dead cells.

Dead cells are what give us that “dull” appearance. As we wait for those dead skin cells to shed themselves, they can eventually clog our pores creating acne problems. Plus, we want our skin to be ready to absorb the nutrients we provide it and if we have a thick layer of dead cells on top, it makes it even harder to see progress. So yes, you do need to exfoliate, but in a non-abrasive way that doesn’t cause more harm long-term.

My Story

Knowing I needed to exfoliate I began to research the best way to exfoliate and I found all sorts of information on sugar and salt scrubs. I began reading all these reasons why sugar is better than salt, turns out it’s less abrasive since it is softer than a salt grain. Brown sugar on the other hand is an even better alternative. After diving deep into some serious research, I made a simple brown sugar scrub for my sensitive skin. OMG, you wouldn't believe how baby soft my skin was after I used it and I was like "WOW, it really does work wonders!"

The "OH NO!" Moment

Unfortunately, after about a week I began to have an acne flare up way worse than I ever had in my life. Little patches of acne, something I’ve never had before. There they were on my forehead and deep in the center of my cheek.. I was horrified.. So I did some more research and found that some people who are exfoliating could have an adverse effects. It can actually create micro-tears in your skin. They are not visible (I certainly didn’t see them) but they allow dirt and particles into your pores. Which eventually build up and cause a breakout. This is exactly what happened to me, luckily, I had my Repair Serum to calm my pores but it still took weeks to heal the damage I had already done. 

So the moral of the story, if you have sensitive skin like me, don’t use any sort of scrub on your face. Yes the damage is reversible, as all acne is with time, but who wants to wait! I certainly didn’t. Actually I take that back, even if you don’t have sensitive skin I’d advise against using a harsh scrub on your facial skin. Our skin is so fragile and we work so hard to keep it clean and smooth. Plus, we have all that makeup we wear all day long .. it’s a recipe for clogged pores. If you are going to exfoliate just proceed with caution, know your skin and know what it will tolerate.

My Solution

Exfoliating is important, but we need to do it right. First off, I am not a dermatologist nor a doctor, this is just from my personal experiences (learn from my mistakes). I wouldn’t exfoliate more than once a week, if you have extra sensitive skin once a month should be just fine. When you exfoliate, do it when you aren’t going to have to put makeup on. I've found the best time is in the evening before bed or if you have a Saturday off and you want to just sit at home and watch some Netflix.

Now for the actual exfoliating; use a non-abrasive material like a washcloth. I personally drench the cloth in warm water and press it onto my face. I “heat and dab” for about 5 minutes to make sure my pores are nice and warm. Then, use that same cloth and put a dollop of your favorite facial soap and begin to lightly rub in a circular motion (notice I didn’t say scrub, be gentle). Make sure to rinse with cold water to close your pores (the colder the better).

I now get that same baby smoothness that I had with the sugar scrub but I have yet to see one flare up or breakout. The finishing touch after I pat my skin dry is to apply my favorite skin care product Repair by Organic Serums (shameless plug). You probably think I’m bias because I work here, but I have truly noticed a huge difference in my skin since I have been using it. Repair is also filled with ingredients to promote cell turnover rate, so this will help get those new cells moving.