Wednesday, January 28, 2009

The Dermatology Blog Tackles Exfoliation

I've recently began reading The Dermatology Blog because I have sensitive skin, my daughter has acne to the point that the doctor recommended prescription drugs and I'm looking for sensible, inexpensive, natural solutions that are good for our bodies and our environment. The Dermatology Blog has lots of great ideas. I had recently read about ladies making their own exfoliating facial scrubs at home using olive oil and sea salt. I think this is a fabulous idea and I'll begin incorporating it into my routine in a few weeks, but for now read this article to make sure that you aren't overdoing it:

Facial scrubs can be soothing and can give your face a soft, healthy glow. They can also make your face raw. Too many women are overusing their facial scrubs, giving them red, irritated cheeks. Are you over-scrubbing?

A patient came to me last week with a bright red, painful rash on her cheeks. She thought she was allergic to her new citrus facial scrub from Burt’s Bees; she was faithfully using it everyday.

She wasn’t allergic to her facial scrub. It was doing what it is designed to do: remove a layer of cells from her skin every time she used it. But at that point she was down to raw skin.

This is a classic case of too much of a good thing in facial skin care. Facial scrubs can be an easy, rather inexpensive way to exfoliate the dull scaly cells on your skin’s surface leaving you with softer, more vibrant skin. However, exfoliating has gotten a little out of hand recently.


Thanks to my wife’s subscriptions, I have noticed that several women’s magazines this month have articles touting the benefits of some apricot-and-citrus-lavender-dead-sea-salt-micronized-facial scrub. It’s too much.

Facial scrubs can exfoliate your skin chemically or physically. Chemical facial scrubs use salicylic, glycolic, citric, or lactic acid to chemically remove the dry dead scales on your skin’s surface.

Physical scrubs exfoliate physically by using ground apricot pits or almonds, sugars, salt, sand, or even tiny beads in microdermabrasions. These abrasives are often mixed in an oil base (such as olive oil if it’s homemade), and when you scrub the abrasive on your face, you physically remove the dull, scaly surface to reveal the healthy living cells beneath.

It is helpful to understand that although these dead cells can give you a dry, dull look, your skin puts those dead cells at the surface for a reason: to protect the delicate living cells below. A little exfoliating once in a while can be useful, making your skin softer and visibly brighter. But you must do this in moderation, that is once every two weeks (which is about how long it takes your skin to turn over).

Some people can tolerate scrubbing more frequently than this, but I suggest you start slowly and work your way to more frequent exfoliating if you so desire. You will notice at some point that using your scrub more frequently does not improve your complexion any further. That’s because there are no dead cells left on your skin’s surface. In this case, give your skin a break, and let it heal before you scrub it again.

Over scrubbing with physical or chemical facial scrubs will not clean your pores, reduce your skin’s oiliness, decrease your acne, or give you a permanent healthy glow. It will however make your skin red, irritated, and raw.

Remember, everything in moderation.

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Chronicling my adventures in proving that less is more. I'll learn to refashion/recycle clothes, prepare gourmet meals using as many natural/basic/raw ingredients as possible. I'll learn to spend less, live more, and reclaim those things that are truly valuable in my life.


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