Desquamation is the life for me!!!
Desquamation, I love saying that word. Nine times out of ten the person I say it too has no clue on what it is, yet they are doing it to some degree as we are talking, right in front of each other! It sounds horrible, but in fact it’s necessary to the function of your skin. Give up? Normal desquamation is the term used for when the body naturally sheds skin cells.
Though the rate of cell turnover slows down with age, the average human will shed about 14,175,000 to 18,900,000 cells per hour or 340,200,000 to 453,600,000 cells per day. Sooooo yeah..that dust on top of your bookcase, probably mostly human cells.
So in honor of the professional Bio Active peel that is coming out in November, I wanted to do a blog on exfoliation, or the artificial form of desquamation.
As I mentioned age is factor in the over all process, younger skin tends to be more efficient at desquamation. As we age, the glue like cement holds the cells together becomes a bit denser, these cells tend to hang out longer, making it tougher for them to naturally slough off, so there is a bit of a buildup. This slow-down causes the skin to appear dull, thicker and less toned.
Exfoliation isn’t limited to an aging skin. When properly administered, it can help all types of skin concerns. For people with acne, it will help clear out congestion. Dehydrated skin, with the removal of old cells, will stimulate new moisture rich cells. People suffering from pigmentation will benefit as well because proper exfoliation will help shed pigmented cells more quickly, revealing the less pigmented cells underneath.
These are just a few influences affecting the natural desquamation process, so you can see why exfoliation is so important to the skin. Removing build-up of dead, damaged cells stimulates the regeneration of new cells, improving the skin’s appearance, feel and texture.
There are many ways to exfoliate the skin and essentially it can be broken into two categories. The first is mechanical.
Mechanical exfoliation uses either a tool like a brush or a tactile gritty type ingredient like Corn Cob Meal, Rice Bran, or Oatmeal that, depending on the amount of friction and nature of abrasive used, loosens and reduces the outer layer of skin. Be careful, too much abrasion can result in skin irritation. And for the love of the children stay away from crushed seeds, and broken shells as an ingredient, these types of scrubs will only damage the skin more that doing any good.
The second form of exfoliation is chemical.
Chemical exfoliation can be broken down into a few sub categories. The first is hydroxy acids; AHA (alpha hydroxy acid) and BHA (beta hydroxy acid). Alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) are water soluble acids that primarily affect the skin by normalizing cell turnover in the epidermis. This stimulates the formation of normal healthy skin, which includes a sloughing of the Stratum Corneum (top layer of the skin), a decreased formation of dry scales on the skin’s surface and stimulation of the cell cycle. On the flip side, Salicylic Acid, a beta hydroxy acid, differs from AHAs due to its love affair with lipids, this allows it to penetrate oilier substances in the hair follicle and exfoliate the pores. As an added benefit Salicylic Acid also has an anti inflammatory effect on the skin, which is a double whammy for those who suffer from inflamed acneic skin.
The next form is known as retinol. Retinol (also known as Vitamin A) is used in exfoliation formulas because the skin has the ability to convert Retinol to Retinoic Acid, a potent skin exfoliation and anti-aging agent. When used on a daily basis, retinol has been shown to improve the visible signs of aging.
Lastly we have the group of Enzyme exfoliates. Commonly seen as Papain or Bromelain, these ingredients stimulate exfoliation by digesting dead cells. These enzymes decompose proteins into smaller fragments, causing a softening effect to the skin and a sloughing of cells. So in some essence if we think of the skin as bricks and mortar, holding the skin together; Enzymes go after the bricks (dead cells) while hydroxyl acids go after the mortar, or glue that holds it together.
So which is right for you? To be continued…
Wash your face!
Geordie MacDiarmid is a licensed skin therapist, and owner of Ego Mechanix, and Est. with over 20 years experience in the skin care industry