Could Exfoliation Be the Most Powerful Anti- Aging Secret?
We all think we know exactly what to do as soon as we notice the first signs of aging – grab the next best anti-aging serum or lotion. But it can be quite a disappointment when your skin is still drooping and looking worse each day despite using such creams for weeks.
What could you possibly do now? First things first – unless you want to experience a cosmetic revival through surgery, reversing signs of aging isn’t naturally possible, but it can certainly be staved off.
Secondly, aging can’t be fixed with a one-stop solution. The skin you will have in your 50s will be a direct consequence of how you took care of it when you were young. People will be ready to buy the most expensive skincare products to reverse aging, when the actual solution could be with them all along.
Healthy skin does not happen in isolation. It requires a healthy lifestyle, a good skincare routine, and most of all, a bunch of smart habits that delay the aging process.
Yes, we’re talking about exfoliation. Your daily exfoliator is not only an effective anti-aging product, but it can enhance the results of all the other creams and lotions you’re currently obsessed with. The best face exfoliator for mature skin amps up the anti-aging results and leaves you with glowing, youthful skin, even when you hit your 40s. Let’s study the science behind exfoliation, the different techniques, and why it could be the best-kept anti-aging secret.
The Skincare Science of Exfoliation
Simply put, exfoliation is the process of sloughing off dead skin from the top epidermis layer. Continuous exposure to pollution and dirt under the scorching sun can impact your skin. If you have an oily and rough skin texture, your skin is already producing excess sebum, which sits on the surface and triggers acne-causing bacteria.
All of these elements collect on the skin’s top layer and result in the formation of a dead skin layer. The reason why it’s called “dead skin” is that it is essentially clogging your skin pores and occluding new skin cells from emerging on the surface.
The very act of exfoliation completely cleans up this dead layer and makes way for your actual skin to breathe. The dead skin layer is quickly replaced with cleaner and fresher skin cells that drastically improve the appearance of your skin. So when dermatologists hint at that naturally glowing and dewy skin, that is precisely what you get after exfoliation.
However, exfoliation is also a very natural process of your own skin. The human body is self-healing and adaptable. Hence, it sheds and gets rid of the dead skin on its own. But why do you need an external solution if your body is already self-equipped?
The answer can be understood with a simple analogy. When you load your body with greasy foods and junk treats, it will clean out the toxins and absorb whatever trace nutrients it can from the unhealthy snacks, but sooner or later, your natural mechanism will lose its efficacy. You’ll end up with digestion problems and bad, very bad skin.
The point is, your skin and your internal organs can only do so much to keep you looking glowing and healthy. When the harmful external factors (in this case, sun damage, pollution, unhealthy diet, and hormonal imbalances) are inevitable and over-powering, you have to employ a solution.
And, this is why exfoliation is a key-step in anti-aging skin routine. It accelerates the process and stimulates your skin to push a new skin layer further up. If you get into a regular habit, as an adult, by the time you reach your mid-30s, your skin will have already slowed down its signs of aging.
But how does exfoliation tie into the secrets of anti-aging?
The Real Cause of Anti-Aging
Aging is a natural process. There is no solution, anywhere on earth, to forestall it. However, with an ideal lifestyle and corrective skincare habits, it can be delayed. As a person ages, their skin’s natural ability to replace dead skin and prevent fine lines and wrinkles diminishes. The crucial skin protein – collagen – is essentially responsible for giving that firm lift and plump look to your skin.
However, there are other environmental factors that contribute to the natural process. If you don’t wear sun protection and spend hours under the heat, your skin may look fine now. But once you reach your 30s, your once smooth face will now fold into sagging wrinkles and develop deep fine lines.
According to a recent report on photoaging, sun damage is the greatest cause of wrinkles. Once the UV radiation hits unprotected skin, it can damage capillaries and result in red blotches, pigmentation, and wrinkles. Along with photo damage, a skin that is exceptionally dry, blotchy, and dull is more likely to develop fine lines and wrinkles.
The accumulation of aging signs, sun damage, dead skin, and dry patches all contribute to sagging and wilting skin. Layering on creams and lotions will provide hydration, but if you’re not doing anything to stimulate new skin growth, then the efforts are futile.
Connecting the Dots: How Does Exfoliation Prevent Anti-Ageing?
With continuous and gentle exfoliation, you are basically removing all the grime, dirt, and oil that could have permanently remained on your skin and were making you look even older. Exfoliating gradually removes the sun-damaged skin and lightens your wrinkles and fine lines over time.
Long-term exfoliation stimulates the production of collagen even when you’ve aged considerably. The presence of collagen leads to brighter, more elastic, and glowing skin in your 40s and 50s. Exfoliation also unclogs your pores, eliminating any chances of breakouts. When the skin elasticity improves, the wrinkles and fine lines naturally start fading away.
The fountain of youth may only be a historical legend, but using exfoliation to stave off signs of aging from occurring early on is quite realistic. Instead of relying on “all-in-one” skin solutions and fast-action products, construct a skin routine with regular exfoliation.
An Inside Look into the Different Exfoliation Techniques
Just like there isn’t a one-stop solution to anti-aging, neither is there a single exfoliation technique to treat your aging skin. People have different skin problems that can affect what they end up looking like once they reach their 40s and 50s.
A heavily acne-prone skin, for example, may become extremely dry, patchy, and pigmented in later years. However, no matter what your skin type or skin problem is, there is an exfoliation technique made just for you. There are exactly two methods: mechanical/physical and chemical exfoliation.
With that, let’s delve into the wonderful world of physical scrubs, AHAs, and retinol to find you the best anti-aging exfoliant.
1. Physical Exfoliants
Physical exfoliators involve manual scrubbing using grainy substances to allow the dead skin to fall off. You may already be using one in the form of face and body scrubs, a wash cloth, or a soft loofah. You can either make your own scrub at home or use store-bought ones.
- Facial Scrubs
Most people question the effectiveness of over-the-counter facial scrubs because they use harmful plastic beads. For this reason, the latest skincare trends use either charcoal or jojoba-oil seeds that mimic the human sebum. These beads gently exfoliate away the dead skin, leaving you with a super-smooth and soft face. However, before you buy a product, always study it.
- Natural DIYs
For an at-home scrub, all you need are some abrasive skincare tools and natural ingredients from your kitchen. The abrasive materials include: loofahs, micro derma rollers, pumice stones, smooth dry brushes, and exfoliating mitts.
For a DIY scrub, the best ingredients should include a grainy product like coffee or brown sugar, an essential oil, and a brightening agent like lemon. Coconut oil, jojoba oil, and frankincense are the most effective choice as they target anti-aging the most. The thing about DIY scrubs is that you can experiment with almost anything, as long as you’re scrubbing and moisturizing properly.
With regular physical exfoliation, these are some visible benefits that you will notice:
- Instant brightening results
- Soft skin texture with a visible reduction in fine lines
- Suits normal and combination skin types
- Balances oil and evens out skin tone
- Hydrates and moisturizes the skin, thereby smoothing out wrinkles
However, just like with every skincare solution, there are risks involved.
- Can worsen acne if used extensively and frequently
- Can cause redness and irritate the skin
- Choosing between natural ingredients can be tricky
- Can result in extremely dry skin, if not followed up with proper hydration
According to the American Academy of Dermatology, physical exfoliation can be detrimental to acne-prone skin. If you have active inflammatory acne, with pustules and cysts, then you should lay off from scrubs and other physical exfoliators.
This is because mechanical exfoliation incorporates hard beads to slough off dead skin, which can be an aggressive add-on to an already inflamed skin. Exfoliation does cause skin redness, but the puffiness quickly subsides in a few hours. As long as you’re using the right exfoliation technique, your skin will continue to benefit from it.
For people with mature skin breakouts, physical exfoliation may not be suitable. And with that, we come down to the next technique – chemical exfoliation.
2. Chemical Exfoliants
If physical exfoliants are irritating your skin, then the best anti-aging exfoliant could simply be one of the following chemicals. This method only uses safe chemicals like AHAs, BHAs, and retinol to peel away the dead skin and inject enzymes that encourage new skin.
Most people experiencing anti-aging found that chemical exfoliants show more dramatic results in very little quantity.
- Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHAs)
These are water-soluble acids that are extracted from organic sugars. Some popular chemicals include Citric Acid, Glycolic Acid, Lactic Acid, and Malic Acid, which come from fruits, milk, and citrus food sources.
While almost all of these are effective, the most powerful is glycolic acid, which peels away the dead sagging skin and replaces it with renewed skin in no time. All the acids help your skin shed the upper dead layer and push up a more even-toned, fairer, and smooth skin.
AHA specifically targets dark pigmentation due to aging, age spots like melasma, and stubborn post-acne scars. They can sufficiently tighten large, open pores, and drastically reduce the appearance of surface wrinkles and fine lines.
- Beta Hydroxy Acids
Beta-hydroxy acids are oil-soluble chemical compounds. They penetrate deeper into your skin layers, and target dark age spots, clogged pores, and deep wrinkles. By seeping deep into the hair follicles, BHAs absorb all the excess oil that could result in dead skin formation. They are best used for sun-damage and pigmentation issues.
A popular BHA used in most anti-aging and acne products is Salicylic acid. It comes from the natural wood bark that targets inflammation, fine lines, and wrinkles.
Retinoids are powerful derivates of Vitamin A. Most dermatologists recommend retinol to people with sagging skin because it dramatically reverses signs of aging. Retinols are extremely hydrating, moisturizing, and promote collagen production.
Other famous retinoids include adapalene, tretinoin, and bexarotene that protect the skin from free radicals – the main cause of aging— and stimulate collagen in the body that prevents wrinkles and fine lines.
- Suitable for sensitive, acne-prone, and oily skin
- Doesn’t involve any abrasive products
- Dramatically decreases wrinkles, fine lines, and dark age spots
- Evens out the skin tone and promotes a brighter complexion
- Strengthens the skin’s barrier against sun damage and anti-aging
- Promotes Collagen to keep skin smooth, soft, elastic, and glowing
- If not used correctly or too often, chemical exfoliants can cause burns or severely irritate the skin
- Make the skin more vulnerable to sun-damage
Which Is the Best Anti-aging Exfoliant?
Now that we know what goes into the making of an exfoliator, the next step is to decide which is the best for anti-aging. The truth is, all of them combat signs of aging, but their effectiveness varies. Most people choose chemical exfoliants, as they are safer, less irritating, and produce dramatic anti-aging results. You should also pick a product that specifically targets sun damage, like glycolic acid or lactic acid, as most of the anti-aging is a result of photosensitivity.
The Final Takeaway
Bringing together all that we know about exfoliation, here’s a final takeaway: with regular use of the right exfoliation technique, you can successfully stave off wrinkles and fine lines. Study your skin type properly and then choose the best face exfoliator for mature skin. Most importantly, give it time.
You won’t see overnight results, but with consistency, the exfoliation will greatly reduce fine lines and wrinkles, giving you beautiful, young, and glowing skin.