From the first time my mum told me about skincare, I knew the three golden rules were cleanse, exfoliate, moisturise. (There should have been sunscreen in there, Mum, but I digress!) I always knew why I had to cleanse, and moisturising for softer skin seemed obvious. But the exfoliation part always confused me: I didn’t have flaky skin, so why did I need to exfoliate at all? Turns out there’s a lot on your skin that you can’t see, and exfoliation has more benefits than I ever realised (until I became a beauty editor, that is).
Make sure you don’t over do it though: exfoliating more than every second or third day can lead to you damaging your skin’s moisture barrier, which will lead to a total skin freak out.
Here are eight benefits of exfoliation you might not have known about.
Exfoliation gets rid of dead skin cells
Dead skin cells might not be immediately visible but they’re there. Exfoliating regularly ensures that dead skin cells get sloughed away, leaving your complexion brighter. This also ensures you won’t ever get to the dry flakey skin stage where those annoying dry patches become visible to everyone else.
Exfoliating unclogs your pores
You know those dead skin cells we just spoke about? If they remain on your skin after cleansing, they can make their way into your pores, creating blackheads, whiteheads and stubborn blockages. Dead skin effectively “seals” up your pores, so that when your skin tries to produce natural oils it gets trapped under the skin, and then welcome to Pimple Town. Exfoliating away all that extraneous skin debris stops this process in its tracks, ensuring your pores remain free and clear.
It helps other products sink deeper into your skin
Dead skin cells also block products from absorbing properly into your skin. Think about it: if your pores are blocked or your skin is dry, no product is going to be able to sink below the surface, where it needs to be to go to work. You’re throwing all the money you spent on your fancy creams and serums down the drain if you don’t exfoliate.
Exfoliating helps cell turnover
Sloughing off dead skin cells keeps the new, healthy cells at the surface and boosts cell turnover. Your dead, dying or dry skin cells are removed, revealing the baby-faced complexion we all long for. Keeping cell turnover high also keeps skin nice and taut.
It boosts your circulation and lymphatic drainage
When there is any sort of blockage in your lymphatic system, you get all puffy which no one wants. Massaging the skin during exfoliation can help lymphatic drainage, which is thought to help remove toxins from the bloodstream and encourages your lymphatic system to deliver nutrients to your cells and really “wake up” your skin. This gentle massaging can also drain away that puffiness you’ve built up from stress, lack of sleep and sometimes even air travel.
It smooths skin texture and tone
Dead skin cells might not be visible to the naked eye themselves, but their effects are. Lack of exfoliation can cause skin to look uneven in tone, and might even cause issues with rough texture. Buffing that out with a good exfoliant can leave your skin silky smooth, and reveal a more even tone.
It increases collagen production
Collagen is what keeps your skin springy, taut and most importantly looking young. So many people swear by regular exfoliation as a way to keep the fine lines and wrinkles at bay. After exfoliating regularly, skin will look firmer thanks to the synthesis of collagen production. You’re basically waking up your skin cells and telling them to keep on working, rather than getting all lazy and saggy.
Exfoliation gives you that glow
All these benefits of exfoliating mean you’re left with glowing skin. It’s more even, it’s smoother, your products can get to work, you’re less puffy, the blood is flowing and you are glowing.
Liz’s Top Exfoliation Products
A natural alternative to many chemical exfoliants, this super effective product uses the power of fruit enzymes and lactic acid to balance facial oils, dissolve dead skin cells and create an allover glow. It’s non-abrasive, clarifying, refining and brightening and I love it.
Paula’s Choice Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Liquid Exfoliant
This cult favourite exfoliant is beloved worldwide for its ability to nix dead skin cells and reveal smoother skin below. Featuring 2 per cent salycilic acid, it is known for unclogging pores, smoothing wrinkles and evening out skin tone.
This powder exfoliant is gentle enough for you to use every day. It uses rice-based powder that activates on contact with water and releases papain, salicylic acid and rice enzymes to gently polish your skin. It feels heavenly, and also contains colloidal oatmeal and allantoin to calm the skin.