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To Scrub or not to Scrub: That is the Question

November 10, 2022

Last week we reviewed the basics in starting a cleansing routine. We hope we helped break down an easy system for you to follow, as well as gave you a few examples of medical grade skincare that we use in our office. You can also find these on Skinstitute e-store.

Believe it or not, exfoliating and toning your skin is another important step in maximizing your cleansing. Between the cold harsh dry winter air and wearing a mask which inherently can block good circulation, there is a greater chance of trapping bacteria, clogging pores and leaving your skin feeling dry and dull.

Here is the ‘science’ part of our article. In the simplest terms, our skin is made up of three layers: the epidermis (the outermost layer), the dermis (the middle layer) and the hypodermis (yes you guessed it the bottom most layer). Our epidermis is constantly evolving and renewing itself. In fact, every 2-4 weeks our epidermis will completely replace itself. Our bodies do a pretty good job of sloughing off the old, dead skin by themselves. However, if you are finding that your skin has lost its glow, it’s time to consider augmenting your exfoliating process.  By adding exfoliating and/or toning in your skincare routine, not only are you allowing your skin to shine but you are also ensuring that the expensive moisturizer and serum you put on next will more likely to be absorbed by fresh skin rather than sit on top of the flaky, dead skin. As an added bonus, reducing the clogged pores ensures less acne breakouts.

There are two types of exfoliation we recommend, physical and chemical. Physical exfoliation has come a long way since a certain apricot smelling scrub that used pulverized wallet pieces hit the market. It’s well known that the scrub is excessively harsh leaving microtears in the epidermal layer. These microtears can leave your skin red and overly sensitive. With continual use, this can leave your skin chronically inflamed; which is never a good look.

A better option is ZO Skin Health Exfoliating Polish. This mighty product uses tiny Magnesium Oxide crystals to physically exfoliate the dry skin and unclog skin pores. Then the vitamin C ester brightens the skin leaving your skin silky smooth. Just like the cleanser, typically we recommend only using a small pea sized amount on your damp face. Start by using the Polish once a week and gradually increase to two times a week to ensure your skin isn’t over-exfoliated. Be sure to rinse well after use.

Here’s our bonus tip. If you suffer from keratosis pilaris which is the fancy scientific name given to the bumpy skin at the back of your arms (Yes, the one your brother kindly pointed out as looking like chicken skin), ZO Exfoliating Polish is exceptionally effective at treating this condition. Directions are the same. In the shower, every two or three days rub a pea sized amount on the back of each arm. Rinse well. If at any time you have redness or irritation, skip a few days and restart. Because your arm skin is not as delicate as your face you can increase the frequency of application.

Chemical exfoliation which is also known as toning is another gentle way of exfoliating the skin by using mild acids to beautify the skin. Our top product for chemical exfoliation is ZO Complexion Renewal Pads. Here is why: ZO Complexion Renewal Pads contain Glycolic Acid and Salicylic Acid. Glycolic Acid is a type of AHA or alpha hydroxy acid ) which smooths the skin allowing it to gently slough off. The added bonus of Glycolic acid is that it works as a collagen stimulator that will ultimately minimize fine lines and wrinkles. Complexion Renewal Pads also contains Salicylic Acid.  Salicylic Acid is a BHA or beta hydro acid which works similar to our AHA except it is oil soluble. This means it penetrates deeper into the skin thus allowing it to better attack the dirt and bacteria which may be blocking your pores and contributing to inflammation and blemishes.  AHA and BHA work as a double whammy to create the ultimate exfoliating experience. To use the pads effectively, remember to use them following your cleansing regime. Take one pad, you will find they are quite saturated, and gently apply over your face. Once you have completed wiping your face, don’t forget to use the remaining product on your necks and décolleté. Do not rinse off and continue with the rest of your skin care routine. A gentle reminder that it is very important to use sunscreen if you start using AHAs and BHAs as they have a tendency to sensitize the skin to the sun.

The key to adding exfoliators to the skin is using moderation. We typically recommend that you start using the Exfoliating Polish once or twice a week and the Complexion Renewal Pads on alternating days. If you are finding you have excessive tightness then decrease to weekly. If you have little or no reaction, then add another day of using the Complexion Renewal Pads. We have some clients who are able to tolerate daily use. The important thing to remember is that every skin type is different. You know your skin better than anyone and you will be able to gauge when to increase or decrease your exfoliation routine.
We’ve tried to make our products as easy as possible to get your hands on, and you can pick them up from our office at your next appointment, or from the comfort of your own home at Skinstitute.

Stay tuned for our next blog post where we discuss the importance of sunscreen in maintaining our skin’s vibrance. Let us know if you have any questions by leaving us a comment. Have a great week everyone.