Because it’s Monday, it’s a great time to focus on changing some habits to better our skin. Let’s dive in on a few “bad skin habits” over the course of January and learn the why’s and the how’s as well as some strategies on how to overcome them. The new year is a great time for new healthy habits, even for your skin!
Let’s dive in....
Bad Skin Habit # 1: Over-exfoliating.
Contrary to what our grandmas taught us, we don’t need to be scrubbing our skin into submission. Over-exfoliating can lead to premature aging, TEWL (trans epidermal water loss)/dehydration, and barrier issues which could lead to severe dryness or disordered skin (like eczema).
Here’s why (in a nutshell):
Our skin is compromised of many different types and layers of cells- some living, growing, shedding, and some creating new complex cells. (Skin layers are absolutely fascinating in all its complexity, like a perfectly working machine ). The outer most layer of this machine is called the stratum corneum, this is the layer most often targeted with exfoliation because it is compromised of “dead” skin cells that are constantly sloughing off when not needed and being replaced with more dead cells. Yes, these cells at times can look old/tired, textured, pigmented, and can build up, which is when we reach for our favorite exfoliator (or a fab facial) . It’s certainly ok to help them along, to a point, but.....there is actually a reason to keep at least some of these cells around and treat the stratum corneum a little more gently than most of us may think (I know we were often taught in the past to show our skin some “tough love”). The stratum corneum, amongst other things, acts as a protector for our more functioning layer of skin. So if we want healthy, new, lovely skin cells we better protect them!
How and when to exfoliate: This may depend on the skin type and condition. For example an acneic skin or a photo damaged skin may require more exfoliation depending on what’s going on. However, most of us should only need to properly exfoliate the stratum corneum once a week. This is because, without even knowing it, we exfoliate daily already- washing our face with a cloth, drying with a towel, or using toner with cotton rounds are all part of the “exfoliation equation”.
To take the guesswork out of how to properly exfoliate, I often choose an enzyme over a physical exfoliant for myself and my clients. Enzymes are soooo cool...They know just what to do and how to do it without being too disruptive to our perfectly functioning skin machine. Enzymes, for lack of a better term, are little digestive “dudes” that know exactly how to digest dead skin cells. They do their job and then they slow their roll . Because of their unique nature, It’s harder to over exfoliate with an enzyme than it is with most other methods of exfoliation (scrubs etc). You can get away with using an enzyme 1-2 times a week to brighten and refresh and banish the unneeded cells of the stratum corneum.
Here’s a favorite home enzyme of mine:
I’m totally on board with a gentle scrub as an alternative to an enzyme. They often times are well tolerated and don’t have the “itchiness” of an enzyme or acid. But just don’t overdo it!
Most “exfoliation” should be limited, for most people and skin types, to 1-2 times a week. (It’s complicated at times with exfoliating serums, acne cleansers etc, but we can get to that later, don’t factor those in here).
So, in summary.....save that scrub or enzyme for Sundays and don’t overdo it!
Pro tip: Always follow “official” exfoliation with a nutrient rich mask for better penetration and superior results.
Like this one (it’s my current mask obsession):