Our skin is constantly casting off old, worn out cells leaving us a new layer of skin that looks fresh and vibrant. Sadly, this process slows to a crawl as we age. The skin cell turnover rate varies individually and age plays a major role. In babies, the skin renews itself every 14 days. In teenagers, this process takes about 28 days. In adults, it takes between 28 and 42 days. In those age 50 and older, the skin renewal process can take up to 84 days. Instead, dead cells cling to healthy skin, dulling our complexion, clogging our pores, and highlighting lines and wrinkles. The best defense? Exfoliation. But what is the best face exfoliator for mature skin?
Regular exfoliation helps prevent dull skin, clogged pores, and even skin discoloration. And for women who love anti-aging products, there’s another benefit: Regular exfoliation also allows active skincare repair serums to penetrate the skin better and provide superior results. As we age, it becomes even more important to exfoliate in order to combat the effects of dry skin, slow skin cell turnover, and worsening of fine lines and wrinkles.
But what does “regular” exfoliation mean when addressing mature skin, and of the different exfoliation methods. Which work best for maturing skin?
Exfoliation Methods: Mechanical Versus Chemical
Go to the cosmetic counter and you’ll find there are a plethora of exfoliating products, enough to make you dizzy. Yet, there are only two methods that you need to remember: mechanical and chemical exfoliants. Mechanical (also known as physical) involves using tools, like brushes, sponges, loofahs, or abrasive scrubs. These methods create enough friction to slough away dead surface skin cells. Chemical exfoliation uses ingredients like alpha and beta hydroxy acids, retinoids and enzymes to aid in cell turnover and cause the superficial epidermal layers to exfoliate without friction.
For mechanical exfoliation, choose only scrubs containing small, smooth surfaced exfoliating particles. Larger, jagged pieces (fruit pits and nut shells) tend to be more abrasive and can cause micro-tears in the skin. I am partial to natural plant ivory for thicker skin types or polylactic acid beads (made from natural tapioca root). Beads from tapioca root are smaller, smoother and more gentle than other bead sources. When looking at tools avoid facial brushes. Facial brushes tend to scratch the skin and they are harbingers of bacteria.
Choose the size of your exfoliating beads to coincide with your skin type. Mature skin that has thickened from sun exposure might want a smooth surfaced scrub that has a higher concentration of particles in the formula. Normal to sensitive skin should choose a scrub with a lesser concentration of particles. Sensitive skin types can buffer the action of their scrub by mixing it with equal amounts of their cleansing milk. The cleanser coats the particles and softens their effects.
When using your scrub don't scrub every day, and don't combine it with chemical exfoliants unless your skin is very thick and leathery. Start with a freshly cleansed skin and remember, you are not scrubbing the kitchen floor. Just roll the scrub over your face in circular motions, avoiding delicate areas like the skin around the eyes. I recommend using your scrub on weekends. On a Saturday or Sunday night. This works great as part of an at home weekly facial where you follow your scrub with a reparative serum and a moisturizing masque.
Some anti-aging benefits of mechanical exfoliation you may not have considered:
Using a scrub increases circulation. This is so important because increased blood flow increases the rate at which oxygen, nutrients and repair factors get to those skin cells. Not only that. If you increase exfoliation by either a physical or chemical means you increase angiogenesis. Angiogenesis is the creation of new blood vessels. This is important if you have dull, maturing skin. One reason your skin looks dull is because you simply don't get the blood flow necessary to achieve that vital glow we are all looking for. The tiniest capillary loops in your skin decrease over time. This also means it is more difficult to remove toxins from the skin, which can lead to age spots.
Another important benefit of exfoliation, even in the form of a scrub, is that it increases collagen synthesis. Stimulating collagen synthesis improves skin's texture, integrity, and keeps the skin looking plump, tight, and younger.
By far the more important method for stimulating skin repair for maturing skins are chemical exfoliants. Don't let the word "chemical" dissuade you. Everything (even water) except heat and light are chemicals. Chemical exfoliants stimulate chemical actions that cause exfoliation. Alpha Hydroxy Acids do this by dissolving the glue that sticks the old dead cells to each other and the surface of your skin. Retinol speeds up the exfoliating turnover rate, bringing new cells up to the surface quicker and more efficiently. Enzymes coax your own skin's exfoliation capabilities to go into action. This method is especially good for sensitive skins.
For mature skin I like to use a combination of AHAs (like glycolic and lactic acids) and either a starter or advanced Retinol formula on alternate nights. This provides more effective exfoliation. AHAs like lactic acid not only exfoliate but are great at brightening pigmentation. Glycolic is also good at cleaning out the pores, preventing clogged pores and increasing hydration. Both stimulate collagen production. But, the real superstar for anti-aging is Retinol.
Retinol not only speeds up production but helps organize cells in the epidermis. This creates a smoother surface and nicer texture. Retinol does this by communicating messages to stem cells in the basement layer of the epidermis to step up cell production. In as little as a few weeks you will see a fresher younger looking texture to your skin.
Retinol is a Vitamin A derivative that also talks to stem cells in the dermis - called fibroblasts. Fibroblasts not only rev up production of skin firming collagen but other, extracellular components like hyaluronic acid. The extracellular matrix (ECM) is the largest element making up normal skin, and gives the skin its unique properties of elasticity, tensile strength and compressibility. Because retinol helps your skin make more collagen, it softens wrinkles and fine lines. Retinol also stimulates new blood vessels, which can give your skin a rosy color. It also helps fade age spots and smooth rough patches. Regular use of retinol 3-4 times a week, alternating with an AHA blend a couple times a week makes dull skin start to glow, lines will soften and pigmentation irregularities decease.
Elizabeth believes in "Longevity Skincare", the idea that beautiful skin can endure throughout one's lifetime when utilizing the best that science and nature has to offer. LONGEVITY is a science-based skincare line that appreciates skin of all ages. LONGEVITY by Elizabeth Renee provides hydration, nutrition and protection from environmental aging. Your skin will receive high performance ingredients to help energize and repair its cells, resulting in a healthy skin with an enduring, vital glow.