Exfoliation is another important step in acne and pimple treatment. In this third and last part of our three part series on pimple and acne treatment, we will review how exfoliation can help you naturally treat your pimples.
Acne prone, breakout prone skin, produces more dead skin cells than a normal skin type. The cells on an oily, pimple prone skin do not shed properly. The dead skin cells remain stuck on the skin’s surface and this results in clogged pores. The clogged pores will lead to a pimple, break out or acne. That is why regular exfoliation is so important for an acne prone skin.
What does exfoliation mean?
The process of washing (a part of the body) ” with a granular cosmetic preparation in order to remove dead cells from the skin’s surface.” Dictionary.com
What is an Exfoliant?
“A gently abrasive product designed to remove dead skin cells from the skin’s surface.” Dictionary.com
Benefits of Exfoliating
Just mentioning “exfoliation” for acne sufferers may make you fear flare ups, increased irritation, inflammation and redness. When done properly, exfoliation can play a valuable role in improving the breakouts.
If you are acne prone, exfoliation is just what you need. Exfoliating removes the dead skin cells from the pores. Removing the buildup enhances your skin’s ability to absorb whatever products you apply to the skin.
Physical (mechanical) Exfoliation vs. Chemical Exfoliation
There are two ways to exfoliate, physical/mechanical or chemical exfoliation. They are very different and for an acne sufferer, blemish prone skin it is very important to understand the key difference, because one can benefit the skin and the other can irritate the skin.
Physical (mechanical) Exfoliation
This method of exfoliating requires a little manual labor. It involves manually removing the dead skin cells either by scrubbing the face with abrasive pads, brushes or products that contain abrasive ingredients. Microdermabrasion is another example of mechanical exfoliation.
I do not recommend physical (mechanical) exfoliation methods for a blemish prone, acne prone skin. The challenge with abrasive scrubs is that the scrubbing granules can cause irritating redness on the skin. Aggressive massaging of these scrubs on the skin can stimulate more oil secretion and can spread the bacteria associated with acne.
Gritty scrubs lead to friction on the skin. This friction will irritate an already inflamed skin, increase redness, and promote additional breakouts.
Microdermabrasion (MDB) is not a good exfoliation option for a blemish prone, acne prone skin. MDB is a very abrasive treatment. Some machines will have salt crystals that are sprayed over the skin, others will have a diamond tip. Both are extremely abrasive and very stimulating. Two things you do not want on a blemish prone skin. MDB will irritate any redness you may have on the skin and can spread the bacteria that a blemish prone, acne prone skin has.
Chemical exfoliation for a blemish prone, acne prone skin is a much better, gentler option than Mechanical exfoliation. Chemical exfoliation involves dissolving or loosening the bonds that hold dead skin cells on the skin’s surface. With Chemical exfoliation there is no aggressive rubbing on the skin, and therefore you do not run the risk of irritating an inflamed red skin and you do not run the risk of spreading the bacteria on the skin.
Examples of Chemical Exfoliants
- Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHA) – Glycolic Acid, Lactic Acid
- Beta Hydroxy Acids (BHA) – Salicylic Acid
- Retinoid – Retin A
I highly recommend chemical exfoliation treatments such as Glycolic Acid Peels, Lactic Acid Peels and Salicylic Acid Peels. These peels are great options for a blemish prone skin because the AHA/BHA does all the work without manipulating the skin. With a Glycolic Acid skin peel, there is no massaging of the skin, it is the active ingredients of the peel that will loosen the bonds on the skin and gently shed the build-up of dead skin. With AHA and BHA peels there is not the risk of spreading the bacteria on the skin like there is with a Microdermabrasion treatment.
Glycolic Acid skin peels, Lactic Acid skin peels and Salicylic Acid skin peels would be treatments you would receive at a Medical Spa. These peels are typically done in a series (e.g. 4 peels every 3 to 4 weeks). After the completion of a series of Glycolic Acid skin peels it is very important to continue to exfoliate at home. You must continue to gently shed the skin to prevent the build-up of dead skin cells that is associated with an oily skin type.
I am often asked by clients who have decided to do a Glycolic Acid skin peel series “How long will the results last?” The response I always give is “It depends on you?” Home care after a series of peels is very important and exfoliation is key. Everyone will see an improvement with their blemish prone skin after a Glycolic Acid skin peel, Lactic Acid skin peel or a Salicylic Acid skin peel series and the skin will continue to improve with the proper home care after a skin peel series.
Exfoliating at Home
For a blemish prone, acne prone skin I do not recommend any products with a harsh, abrasive texture. I don’t recommend products with abrasive apricot seeds, for example. I do not recommend harsh, abrasive products such as a loofah on the face.
I recommend Enzymes for exfoliating at home. There are two primary uses for enzymes in skin care – for exfoliation and anti-inflammation. Certain enzymes are effective exfoliants and can be gentler than other methods like scrubs. The enzymes work by specifically breaking down the keratin protein (skin cells), resulting in smoother skin. Look for fruit enzymes such as papaya (papain), pineapple and blueberry.
I hope that you found this information on exfoliation as well as pimple and acne treatments valuable. If you have any questions about skin treatments or if you would like to schedule a consultation, I invite you to contact us today. It will be our pleasure to answer your questions.