Guest Article by Dr. Ahmed Abdullah
This article is quite special as this is written by a board-certified plastic surgeon. So keep on reading and take notes because you may learn a thing or two (I know that I have). Without further ado, let’s start the article, “How to Exfoliate: A Doctor’s Insights”
My patients and those who know me will tell you that Exfoliation is a topic about which I am quite passionate because it is the skin care step that has the potential to truly transform the skin when implemented properly, consistently and with a well-formulated product. Before we get into that, however, please allow me a moment to introduce myself.
As a board-certified plastic surgeon, I have an intimate understanding of how our outward appearance can be linked to our self-esteem. Therefore, my goal has always been to help my patients feel like the best version of themselves. Skin care plays a big role in that for its ability to keep our skin looking healthy, youthful and beautiful. During discussions with patients over the years, I’ve often found them to be confused about how to design a skin care regimen that works for their skin’s needs. That’s one of the reasons I created the Lexli skincare line – to make skin care simple.
The other reason was, my desire to offer patients a skincare line that uses a base of pharmaceutical-grade aloe vera, instead of water, as is used in nearly all other skin care products. As an aloe researcher, I have seen first-hand the dramatic improvements that pure aloe vera can bring to the skin. In fact, the same high grade of aloe vera that I apply to skin flaps during surgery to expedite healing and reduce inflammation is used in Lexli products.
WHY DO YOU NEED TO EXFOLIATE:
While over-the-counter skin care products have come a long way in their effectiveness, thanks to the introduction of impressive active ingredients that have found their way into serums, moisturizers and the like, I still look at exfoliation as the “gold star” skin care step that can dramatically improve the skin.
As we age, our skin’s cellular turnover slows down, which leads to a thickening of the keratin layer of dead skin cells. When this happens, fine lines become more prominent, skin appears dull and the texture may be rough, areas of hyperpigmentation are prominent, and more. On a biological level, when the keratin thickens, the dermis layer – the factory of our skin where beneficial proteins like collagen and elastin are produced – thins in response to keep overall skin thickness consistent. This limits its ability to function. In essence, skin with a thickened keratin is unhealthy.
HOW CAN YOU EXFOLIATE:
Exfoliation can be done two ways:
Mechanically, with physical force (think shaving or use of exfoliating scrubs) or Chemically, with acids.
It is the latter option that is most efficient and effective. The main class of acids you’ll find in facial exfoliators is alpha-hydroxy acids, which includes a range of acids, such as lactic, malic, citric and retinoic acids. My top-recommended alpha-hydroxy acid is glycolic acid, due to its small molecular size, which allows it to penetrate between cells to dissolve the intercellular “cement” that holds keratin cells together. With consistent use, a glycolic acid exfoliator thins the keratin layer, allowing the dermis to thicken and skin to again reach optimal function. Those new to exfoliation quickly find that their skin becomes softer, firmer, more vibrant, blemish-free and increasingly youthful- looking.
POINTS TO REMEMBER:
When evaluating a glycolic acid exfoliator, it’s important to consider a few key points:
1. What is the product’s pH?
Many exfoliators will list the acid percentage but this number is misleading. This is because many formulations include buffers, which minimize the effectiveness of the acid. Knowing a product’s pH is a more accurate way to determine the strength of the product. Professional chemical peels often have a pH around 2.0. At home, you want something less strong, but certainly more acidic than the skin, which has a pH ranging from 5.5 to 6.5. Ideally, an at-home exfoliator will have a pH around 3.0 to 4.0.
2. Does it contain anti-inflammatory ingredients?
Exfoliation is a harsh process that causes inflammation. This is why many individuals experience redness after a chemical peel. To minimize inflammatory side effects, many exfoliators include anti-inflammatory ingredients, such as aloe vera or green tea extract. By including these ingredients, the exfoliator can achieve the intended results, without the harsh side effects. If your exfoliator of choice does not include anti-inflammatory ingredients, be sure to use a calming serum on the skin after exfoliating.
HOW OFTEN SHOULD YOU EXFOLIATE:
I’m a proponent of exfoliating daily. For those whose skin is on the oily side or acne-prone – I even suggest using a chemical exfoliator twice daily. Keep in mind, however, that the skin will need time to adjust to exfoliation. Ramp up your frequency slowly and, if needed, mix it with a bit of moisturizer until your skin can handle a full-strength application. Exfoliation is the skin care step that can benefit all skin types. I often hear patients and customers say, “I can’t exfoliate; I have sensitive skin.” In reality, if the skin is showing characteristics associated with sensitive skin, exfoliation may be exactly what you need to optimize skin health and function!
WHERE CAN YOU GET EXFOLIATORS:
There are many good exfoliators on the market but, of course, I’m partial to the one we offer at Lexli: AloeGlyC. We’d like to extend to Sifa’s Corner readers an opportunity to try the product for 30% off using code SIFASCORNER through October 31, 2017, when purchasing at Lexli.com.
Check out how you can make an at-home face/body scrub for exfoliation with Cinnamon.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
This article is contributed by Dr. Ahmed Abdullah, a board-certified plastic surgeon and founder of the premier line of aloe-based skin care Lexli. He developed Lexli’s key products in 1996 exclusively for his patients’ use.
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