If you are a person who is into skin care and anti-aging in general, you have most likely gone to a salon or spa and had a facial. Or “skin care treatment” if you are male. During your facial, you most likely experienced some form of exfoliation. If it was a basic facial, you may have had a scrub, or an enzyme mask, or a pass with the spinning brush machine.
Your aesthetician might have suggested more aggressive exfoliation procedures such as series of alpha hydroxy acid (AHA) peels, microdermabrasion treatments, or even laser resurfacing. The intention of these procedures is to cause the skin to generate more collagen. Collagen is the protein that gives our skin a youthful plump and smooth look. Collagen synthesis decreases with age, and as a result of excessive sun exposure, improper skin care, poor nutrition, dehydration, and inflammation among other reasons.
These exfoliation procedures speed up the skin’s cell turnover rate (which also slows as we age), and promote collagen synthesis by removing several layers of the epidermis (the outermost layer of the skin, containing “dead” skin cells). This creates an inflammatory response that is intended to send a message to the cells in the dermis (inner “live” layer of the skin where the proteins of youth, collagen and elastin, are generated) to produce and send new collagen to the injured area. This gives the skin an immediate plumped, tightened, smoother, and more youthful appearance. However, the results are temporary so repeated treatments are necessary to maintain the look.
Most likely, your aesthetician also recommended a home care product regimen that will help maintain the results of the treatments you just had. At least one of the products probably contains ingredients (AHAs, salicylic acid, retinol, etc.) that exfoliate the skin on a daily basis. The purpose of this is to continue to speed up the skin’s process of sloughing off dead skin cells so the skin is smoother, looks more youthful, and other skin care product ingredients can penetrate deeper.
This is the “gold standard” of the skin care industry today.
Exfoliation does not just occur in salons and spas. There are many over-the-counter products containing exfoliating ingredients, as well as popular at-home microdermabrasion kits and spinning brushes that are widely available to the general public.