Exfoliation. Skin exfoliation is a natural process associated with the constant regeneration of skin cells in the epidermis. Skin cells generate in the deepest layer of the epidermis, move toward the surface, shed invisibly, and the cycle continues. This natural process of skin exfoliation slows down with age. Babies renew their cells every 14 days, teenagers every 21-28 days, middle-aged adults every 28-42 days and it takes up to 50 days to renew cells by age 50 or older.
The best way to improve skin texture and smoothness is by accelerating this natural process of exfoliation. There are two ways do this and both are extremely beneficial:
Mechanical Exfoliation - This involves physically sloughing dead skin cells from the surface of the skin. Examples of physical exfoliation include microdermabrasion, brush machines, or granular scrubs made with synthetic materials or natural materials like the jojoba spheres found in SkinMedica Skin Polisher.
Chemical Exfoliation - This involves chemical agents that are applied topically. Common examples of chemical exfoliants are alpha- and beta-hydroxy acids which can be found 15% AHA/BHA Cream, and chemical peels such as Vitalize Peel®. Chemical peels are a more advanced form of chemical exfoliation and must be performed by a trained aesthetician or medical professional. Both have acids that dissolve the intercellular glue that binds dead skin cells together. Retinols, like those found in Retinol Complex, work a bit differently. They essentially accelerate the skin cell turnover and renewal process.
Although exfoliation is imperative in maintaining healthy skin, it is important to avoid over-exfoliation, which can lead to skin irritation, increased sensitivity and damage to the protective skin barrier. Consult your skin care professional for the most appropriate exfoliating option for your skin's needs.