Welcome to the second post in the Age-Grace series. (I’ve titled a series of blogs on how to care for your skin naturally & aging gracefully– the ‘Age-Grace series’…stay tuned for regular posts over the several months!) The last post in the Age-Grace series discussed the many benefits of incorporating regular exfoliation into your skincare regime. In this post, I’m going to focus on how to properly exfoliate skin, the DO’s and DON’T’s of exfoliating, and tips on how to incorporate exfoliation into your skincare routine.
A few ground-rules exist with exfoliating skin, so let’s review those first:
In terms of frequency, exfoliating your face should at least be part of your weekly skincare regimen. Exfoliating once to twice a week, should bring the best results to most skin types, however get to know your skin to understand if perhaps 3 times per week suits you more. There are schools of thought that believe daily, or even twice-daily very gentle, light exfoliation is better than weekly, more intense exfoliations. Certain skin types may respond better to each method, for example acne-prone, oily or sun-damaged skin types may respond better to very gentle daily exfoliation (such as huna Daily Cleansing Powder). Daily exfoliation removes deeply-set impurities which clog pores and cause pores to larger in appearance (a classic sign of oily skin), so daily exfoliation deeply cleans pores and removes impurities before they can cause acne.
It is important to get to know your own skin, and see what works best for you…either daily light, gentle exfoliation, or a more intense weekly or twice-weekly routine. DON’T ever exfoliate damaged, irritated, sunburned or otherwise damaged skin, and DON’T over-exfoliate your skin. Recognize the signs of excessive exfoliation, which are skin redness, and irritation such as dryness or peeling skin.
Sun spots and hyperpigmentation are damage caused to skin over time, usually a result of excessive sun exposure. Surface-level hyperpigmentation can be significantly improved with a regular exfoliation routine. Exfoliating particles work to gently and respectfully buff away dead and damaged skin cells, while boosting cell regeneration to gently fade discolourations over time. (It is key to wear sunscreen in this case, as unprotected UV-exposure in combination with an exfoliation regimen will only exacerbate the severity of your sun damaged skin!). DO Get to know your own skin, become your own skin’s expert. Most skin types will react best to a regular, nailed-down routine, so DO get into a routine that works best for your skin and try your best to stick to it. (I try to exfoliate twice weekly, Sunday- as part of my Sunday-ritual/routine, and Wednesday- for a mid-week revitalization).
DO use a soft, gentle and light-handed touch when exfoliating facial skin. DON’T apply pressure to the skin when exfoliating – instead, allow the exfoliation particles in your exfoliating product to do the work, while your hands should only be distributing and gliding the product across your skin.
Your skin may appear a rosy pink colour, and may perhaps feel a bit tingly after exfoliating. DO try to get good at listening to your skin – if it increases in overall redness, your facial capillaries become more noticeable, or if your face shows signs of irritation such as peeling, burning or painful sensations, then you are over-exfoliating or applying too much pressure. You should respond by immediately discontinuing exfoliation until your skin heals and calms. Once your skin has returned to normal, you may try to re-introduce exfoliating into your routine, but start at just once weekly (even every other week) with a very soft, gentle touch.
DO use natural ingredients as exfoliators, as they prove to be gentle and less-irritating to skin, and they offer very effective results. Jojoba beads, jojoba meal, fine-ground apricot kernels, ground oatmeal, ground coconut, rice powder, or luxurious sandalwood powder work really well (and are my absolute favourites!) for gently and naturally exfoliating skin. And lastly, DO moisturize and protect skin after cleansing and exfoliating, by applying your favourite natural facial lotion or cream, followed with a protective antioxidant face serum. And of course, DON’T forget sunscreen if spending time outdoors, as exfoliated skin is ‘bare naked’ and will be susceptible to UV-damage.
How to exfoliate skin
Start by cleansing your skin first, to remove surface-level dead skin cells, make-up and impurities. This is an important step that people often skip, however the point of exfoliation is removing deeply embed impurities and bacteria from the skin’s pores, so surface-level gunk will only get in the way of a good exfoliation.
After cleansing, apply a small amount of your preferred exfoliating product into hands, and distribute around your face using a soft, gentle-touch, and massaging the skin in an upward, circular motion. Be very gentle on facial skin, allowing the exfoliating product to do the work while avoiding the eye area. Do not spend too much time focusing on one particular area, and pay attention to the appearance and feel of your skin as you exfoliate. A soft tingling sensation and fresh pinkness to the skin is normal, however burning, irritation or redness are signals the product or pressure you are using are too intense for your skin.
It’s a good idea to get into the habit of also exfoliating and treating other key areas prone to premature aging in the same manner as the face- such as the neck, chest and hands. Rinse skin with cool water, being sure to rinse away all of the exfoliating particles. Pat skin dry, or leave damp, and apply a moisturizer and face serum, followed by sunscreen and your usual cosmetics (if you like).
Don’t forget to exfoliate your body as well, to keep your skin smooth, soft, moisturized and glowing. Try dry-brushing your body before your next shower, using a body brush with natural bristles or a moistened loofah sponge. Stand in the shower (naked) before you start running the water, and use your dry brush to exfoliate and massage skin. Starting with your feet, use long, sweeping strokes to brush the skin, moving in the direction from the feet upwards toward the heart. Or you may choose to use a Sugar Body Scrub to exfoliate the body while in the shower or bath- use circular motions to massage and exfoliate skin, starting at the feet and moving up the body towards the heart. Pat skin dry, and immediately follow with a natural moisturizer. (Use caution- as Sugar Scrubs can make the surface of your bathtub slippery!)
Make exfoliating part of your routine
If you’re having trouble remembering to do your weekly exfoliation routine, then try making it part of a weekly ritual or routine by incorporating your exfoliation with a bath routine or ‘self-care experience’. I like to reserve Sundays for my self-care rituals, where I include all of my routine beauty treatments- deep treatment hair oil, facial exfoliation with Sandalwood Microdermabrasion, a raw honey & turmeric facial mask, a full-body Sugar Body Scrub exfoliation after an intense Yoga session, followed by a relaxing bath, or steamy shower…Ah, I love my Sunday routine!
Another way to make a ritual out of your exfoliation is by lighting some incense to make it a relaxation experience. You’ll better remember a ritual that you look forward to and it only takes a minute, so try lighting an incense or pulling out your favourite essential oil when doing your routine exfoliation. Even lighting a candle, or streaming some meditation music can instantly relax and put you in the mood to treat yourself! (And being relaxed looks better on all of us anyway!).
If you can’t afford the time, or just aren’t into the full-on experience along with exfoliating your skin, then try just plugging exfoliations into your calendar by marking every Wednesday and Sunday evening (for example) with ‘exfoliate’ time slots. It’s not sexy, but it will remind you to stick to your skincare routine!
Regular exfoliation will give you younger-looking, healthy, smooth, supple and radiantly glowing skin…just get to know your skin and remember to use a gentle touch!
Live well & allow yourself to age with grace!