Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Keys to Good Exfoliation or ‘How To Get to Fresher Skin’ – Part I

Dear Friend,

Exfoliation can be done manually or chemically. Either method thins the top layer of our skin which is composed entirely of dead skin cells. These cells have migrated upward from the deepest layer of our skin, called the dermis.

As each cell travels toward the surface it naturally loses moisture. A cross section of skin shows these dead cells, collectively called the ‘horny’ layer, look like microscopic overlapping fish scales. Their purpose to trap moisture in the lower layers of our skin as well as protect them from the environmental effects. We should never try to remove all of the horny layer at one time. Doing that would leave our face raw and open to bacterial infection to say nothing of the additional sun damage we’d suffer.

Manual exfoliation usually involves using an abrasive product like a scrub or specially designed brushes. When using scrubs, you should avoid any product that contains nutshells. No matter how small the shell pieces are there will still be sharp edges that can make microscopic cuts in your skin allowing airborne bacteria to enter and possibly cause infection and irritation.

Plastic beads are another ingredient to avoid in scrubs. This is a cheap ingredient that simply rolls over the skin’s surface without removing any skin cells.

The best scrubs contain ingredients like oatmeal, flax seed, rice hulls, or corn flour. These natural items swell when wet so they don’t get ‘stuck’ in your pores. Additionally, when wet any sharp edges are softened so they won’t cause any scrapes or cuts in your skin.

You can easily make your own inexpensive scrub. While it may not be as effective as some commercial products it won’t over exfoliate either. The first ingredient is old-fashioned oatmeal processed in a blender or food processor until it becomes a flour. You can add a little of this flour to your second cleansing up to three times a week.

For more aggressive exfoliation action, mix the oat flour in equal parts with dark brown sugar. Pour a little of this mixture into the palm of your hand, add a few drops of a good quality oil like extra virgin olive, grapeseed, or almond oil. Rub this mixture gently on your face especially where you have congestion (blackheads). Cleanse again afterward to remove all the oil.

Please don’t ever scrub over pimples or pustules! The abrasive action of the scrub may burst the pimple and allow scrub ingredients to get trapped in the open pore. You’ll only be making a bad situation worse!

Next time I’ll discuss exfoliation brushes, the 2nd method of manual exfoliation.


Carolyn Johnson

Sunday, February 10, 2008


Dear Friend,

If you are like most of us this time of year, your skin is dry, flakey, dull and lifeless. Don’t panic, this condition is repairable and reversible.

This dryness is due to reduced moisture in both outdoor and indoor air; switching between hot to cold temperatures; and our body’s natural protection against the harsh elements of Winter.

Usually to combat this increased dryness, we pile on more and richer lotions which improve our skin’s appearance for a short period but actually cause additional problems like clogged pores leading to blackheads and pimples.

The real remedy for winter skin is a 3-step process:

Step 1: Thinning, or exfoliating, the dead skin cell layer that naturally builds up over time.

Step 2: Adding moisture to the cells uncovered following exfoliation.

Step 3: Trapping that moisture so it can’t escape into the environment

Good, safe exfoliation not only will improve your skin’s appearance immediately but when done regularly, your skin will begin to produce more new cells in the deepest layer, called the dermis, and start them on their trip to the surface of our skin.

This generation and migration process is called the ‘cell turnover rate’. Turnover rate is affected by age as well as our general health including diet, exercise and hydration. A faster turnover rate results in moister, younger looking skin on a daily basis.

Next time I’ll discuss how manual scrubs and how they can give you skin that looks, feels and behaves better!


Carolyn Johnson