Exfoliation is the removal of the oldest dead skin cells on the skin’s surface (the stratum corneum). Exfoliation keeps skin smooth, improve skin tone and delay the appearance of the first wrinkles. Additionally, it make it easier for skin products to penetrate the skin surface.
Exfoliation, however, is a delicate subject. It is really easy to over-exfoliate specially when we are trying a new products or methods, when we don’t have a clear idea of what should be the procedure, frequency or intensity. This drives to many people to get irritated skin after exfoliation.
In this article we will introduce the main types of exfoliation.
Mechanical Exfoliation (or Physical Exfoliation)
In a mechanical or physical exfoliation the oldest skin cell are removed buffering them away mechanically, like sandpapering a piece of wood. Mechanical exfoliation uses either tools or abrasive cosmetics to produce the friction required to proceed the buffering. Examples of tools can be brushes or sponges. Abrasive cosmetics can be based on microbeads, natural beans, sugar and salt crystals, sand, cellulose fibres, almond shells… and a long list of other abrasive materials.
Mechanical exfoliation has build up a bad reputation as an excessive use can result easily in skin irritation. This reputation is a little bit unfair, as the main reason for this irritation result is not the method per se, but an incorrect appliance.
There are other methods of exfoliations that could be also included as mechanical ones. For instance microdermabrasion or cavitation peeling. The first is a combination of vacuum and friction, the second uses ultrasound waves for removing the dead skin. These techniques require strong training and deep knowledge to be applied with all guarantees.
Chemical exfoliations target the “glue” between cells so they detach without the need of rubbing. Chemical exfoliation employs a variety of means to achieve skin renewal such as:
- Alfa Hydroxy Acids (AHA): those are acids derived from fruits, milk, nuts and sugar. Some examples are glycolic acid (derived from sugar), malic acid (derived from apples), tartaric acid (grapes), mandelic acid (bitter almond), citric acids (citrus and corn), lactic acid (milk and sugars), pyruvic acid ..
- Beta Hydroxy Acids (BHA): the most common of which is salicylic acid (derived from willow tree bark, wintergreen oil or sweet birch). Those acid can penetrate better in oily and acneic skins.
- Poly Hydroxy Acids (PHA): which is really similar to AHA one but cause less irritating as it uses large molecular size. It is specially recommended for sensitive skins that do not tolerate AHA. Some examples are lactobionic acid (lactose derived from cow’s milk), galactose (sugars) and glyconic acid.
- Enzymes: i.e. Papain (from papaya), Bromelain (from pineapple) and keratinase (from bacteria)
At UniqueYou we have designed the following acid peelings (or chemical exfoliations) for our clients.
Low concentration of glycolic acids are found in cleansers, tonics, serums… and other retail products. This treatment uses the same component in a higher concentration which should be used only by professionals.
This kind of peeling is used to get the so called “Sleeping Skin Effect”. It improves the tone and elasticity of the skin, reduces superficial wrinkles, fines disorder keratosis skin, excessive dryness of the skin. It is recommended to repeat this treatment several times in intervals of weeks.
This type of peeling is recommended for people with sensitive and shallow vascularised skin. It has a revitalising effect, brightening and reduces fine wrinkles. It works as antiseborrheic and anti-acne. It is also used to treat anti-pigmentation.
Pyruvic and Azelaic Acid
Depending on the concentration and duration of application, we can get a superficial peel or moderately deep. It recommended for the treatment of acne scars, seborrhoea, dilated pores, elimination of light wrinkles. After peeling typically occurs moderate erythema but it retires pretty soon.
Contraindications for chemical peels
However, not everyone can undergo such treatments. Chemical peelings should not be used in active herpes, on high photo-typed skin, skins treated with retinoids over the previous months or if you are going to be exposed to sun during the following weeks after the treatment. This is because, for those living or visiting Spain, those treatments are only recommended during winter.
Hope this article was useful for you.