Exfoliation 101



Cellular Turnover

The health of your epidermis is most important for the hydration and radiance of your skin and cell turnover or natural exfoliation is the name of the game here. These cells are CONSTANTLY shedding, and it is important to understand that this natural process slows down as we age which results in a thickening of the stratum corneum giving the skin a dull appearance, as well as a rough and dry feel to the surface. If this layer of the skin is not shedding optimally, then we need to step in with topical or physical means to help increase exfoliation and natural cell turnover. This is a simple first step to more ageless and healthy functioning skin.

The epidermal cells in the stratum corneum are dead skin cells.  These dead skin cells help to waterproof the skin and protect from harmful invaders like chemicals, bacteria and viruses. In young, healthy skin, these cells are lined up much like a brick wall with the mortar or glue between the bricks being natural moisturizing factors. With aging and thickening of the stratum corneum, these cells become disorganized and lose their ability to produce as much moisture.  Thinning and restructuring the epidermis with the right skin care ingredients will help increase natural moisture production and protection.

Daily Exfoliation

Daily gentle exfoliation is a very important step in any highly effective skin care regimen. There are two forms of exfoliation, physical and chemical. Physical exfoliation consists of scrubbing the skin with abrasive substances such as salt, sugar, apricot seeds, or the like. For at home physical exfoliation treatments, it is not recommended to use these scrubs on the face because the skin here is very delicate. This type of trauma causes the skin to form a grainy, bumpy texture over time. Even scrubbing with a washcloth can cause this level of damage. Chemical exfoliation to encourage natural cell turnover is the most effective for at home use, but be careful to choose a non-irritating product that agrees with your skin, and that doesn’t lead to irritation long-term. Because physical exfoliation can be so tricky, leave it to the pros who use microdermabrasion, dermaplaning, lasers and peels to do this to a very fine, controlled degree.


Chemical Exfoliation

Chemical exfoliation can be achieved with certain topical ingredients. My favorite is topical Vitamin A in the form of retinaldehyde. It works by increasing cell turnover by allowing the body to remove the dead skin cells at an increased rate and by reorganizing the corneocytes to produce more natural moisturizing factors (NMF).You may not have heard about retinaldehyde, but it's my go-to form of topical vitamin A. I love it because it is a potent alternative to traditional prescription retinoids and over-the-counter retinols which can be a great exfoliators, but for many are too irritating and drying. Retinaldehyde is a must for everyone because not only does it exfoliate the skin, it stimulates collagen, protects against sun damage and helps to prevent acne.Talk about a triple threat!


Increasing Cell Turnover

Niacinamide or Vitamin B3 is another great topical agent that increases cell turnover. It works in much the same way as topical vitamin A.  It improves the skin’s health by increasing cell turnover, aiding in collagen stimulation and acting as an anti-inflammatory agent. In its pure form, it can be quite irritating, so many companies are using smaller doses in conjunction with other ingredients to increase its effectiveness and tolerability.


Effective Topical Ingredients

Other effective topical exfoliation ingredients are Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHA) and Beta Hydroxy Acids (BHA). They have been a part of skin rejuvenation for centuries. AHAs and BHAs work by loosening the glue-like lipid bonds of the dead skin cells of the epidermis. The most common AHAs are lactic acid and glycolic acid. These are gentle exfoliators that can be used for all skin types. The most common BHA, salicylic acid, is also highly effective. BHAs are oil soluble and are best for acne prone, oily skin.


All of these great ingredients can be found in our Mikel Kristi skincare products.  Our Vital A Rejuvenating Serum uses both niacinamide and retinaldehyde to help gently increase your skin’s natural exfoliation to reveal healthier, more youthful skin.  Our Refreshing Botanical Wash and Rejuvenating Swipes utilize the AHAs, lactic and glycolic acid, to enhance exfoliation as well.


Go to Mikelkristi.com or MikelKristi.com to get your products today! 

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