Depending on what effect you're after, the exfoliation process can range from simple and cheap to procedures requiring a doctor's care.
What Exfoliation Does
In most cases, the exfoliation process is expected to do one thing: slough off dead skin cells that dull the complexion and reveal fresher skin underneath. While the body naturally sloughs off skin cells, as people age, this process slows. This slowdown leads to fine lines, blemishes and a complexion that doesn't have that same youthful glow. Men and women use exfoliation in order to speed up the sloughing and reveal newer skin.
The Exfoliation Process: Simple to Complex
You can exfoliate your face and body at home, or you can have the procedure performed in a spa or doctor's office. At-home exfoliation is typically inexpensive. People with oily skin can exfoliate more often. Those with dry and/or sensitive skin will need to be careful when exfoliating in order not to irritate their skin. People with acne should also practice care when exfoliating. Active breakouts shouldn't be scrubbed harshly with exfoliants as this can exacerbate pimples and damage the skin.
The exfoliation process can be performed with mechanical or chemical means, with mechanical being the simplest and least expensive.
Although revealing more youthful skin is the most sought-after result of exfoliation, some people want it to minimize fine lines and age spots as well.
What to Use for Exfoliation
You can exfoliate using a variety of items.
Exfoliating with a washcloth is cheap and easy. This exfoliation process can easily be fit into a skin care regimen at home. You can either use a cleanser on your washcloth or just plain water.
Face and Body Scrubs
Walk into any drugstore, department store or bath and body store and you'll see a variety of products promising to exfoliate your skin with great results. These exfoliating products may contain sugar, salt, pumice or crushed fruit seeds. They feel grainy to the touch. Body scrubs are useful in the bath or shower and can be used to focus on areas like the hands, elbows and feet. Facial scrubs can be used as part of a face-washing routine one to a few times per week.
You can also exfoliate with loofahs. These are better used on the body instead of the face. They're also better suited to oily skin instead of dry.
Over the Counter Products
Products containing low amounts of alpha hydroxy acid or beta hydroxy acid can aid in the exfoliation process as well. They are usually not suitable for people with sensitive skin when using on the face.
This exfoliation process varies in results, expense and after-care. Some of the same chemicals found in over the counter products may be used in this more complex exfoliation process, but a dermatologist will use them in higher percentages, leading to more dramatic results than you get at home.
Good Skin from Head to Toe
Adding the right exfoliant to your skin care regimen can greatly improve your skin's appearance all over your body. The trick is to choose the best products for your skin type and any conditions. While those with sensitive skin should avoid harsh chemicals and vigorous scrubbing, people with oily skin may find regular exfoliation keeps their skin glowing and acne-free. Begin with an at-home regimen and carefully think about any chemical options before using them, whether at-home or in a dermatologist's office.