Removing Dead Skin Cells. An Exfoliant or a Scrub?
Dead skin cells form the outermost layer of our skin. They protect us, but can also make our skin look dull and uneven. Despite this, what we actually want is to have a radiant and even complexion.
Dead skin cells – our protectors
Our ‘armour’. The stratum corneum is the outermost layer of our skin, and is made up of thousands of dead skin cells. They protect us. New skin cells are continuously being made in the deeper layers of the skin, which move slowly towards the surface. This is also necessary, as we are losing our dead skin cells ‘non-stop’.
Are these cells making us beautiful?
We do shed most of our dead skin cells, but there are those that have a tendency to stick to each other; the result is a thick upper layer of skin. If you can imagine, this doesn’t build up evenly and a small undulating landscape develops on your face. This has an effect on your ‘glow’ or ‘complexion’: a smoother surface reflects more light. A good example is a mirror; light is reflected across the smooth surface. If there are too many dead skin cells the light cannot be mirrored and so your skin can have a dull appearance. The older you get the more you will suffer from this.
Apart from the fact that the skin loses its “radiant complexion” if too many dead skin cells stay on your skin, pores can also become blocked if the layer of dead skin cells becomes too thick. The result: sebum builds up and the combination of bacteria and sebum eventually causes the appearance of spots.
A cream scrub:
‘Nice clean’ skin. Some temporary redness but scrubbed thoroughly clean. Rather not! By scrubbing you remove the outer layer of dead skin cells. This is good. The disadvantage is that you often damage parts of the layer underneath. So you are actually irritating your skin, instead of looking after it! Scrubbing too hard is definitely not good. A very mild scrub may be used….
A scrub or fruit acids?
A better alternative to a scrub are fruit acids, which I have also written about in “The Secret of Exfoliating: Glycolic Acid or Salicylic Acid?”. Fruit acids work by loosening the connection between the outer layer of dead skin cells, so that they can release themselves from the skin more easily: a more fresh and radiant skin becomes visible. The word ‘glowing’ perfectly describes the result. Do you still want to use a scrub? Choose a very mild one then, and make sure it doesn’t damage your skin.
(Dr. Jetske Ultee – research physician cosmetic dermatology)