Exfoliation (cosmetology)

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This article is about the cosmetic technique. For other uses, see Exfoliation (disambiguation).
Cross-section of all skin layers.

Exfoliation involves the removal of the oldest dead skin cells on the skin's outermost surface, and has been used for many years to help maintain healthy skin. Exfoliation is involved in the process of all facials, during microdermabrasion or chemical peels at medical spas. Exfoliation can be achieved through mechanical or chemical means.[1]

History[edit]

Credit is given to the ancient Egyptians for the practice of exfoliation.[2] In the Middle Ages, wine was used as a chemical exfoliant, with tartaric acid as the active agent.[2] In Asia, the practice of exfoliation started hundreds of years ago.[3] The etymology of the word exfoliate comes from the Latin exfoliare (to strip off leaves).[4]

Types[edit]

Exfoliation is achieved through either mechanical or chemical means.

Mechanical[edit]

Exfoliation methods used in Canada in 2011. Shown: top right, a bath sponge made of plastic mesh; lower right, a brush with a pumice stone on one side and a natural bristle brush on the other side, for foot exfoliation; lower left, a mud mask package for facial exfoliation; top left, a jar of perfumed body scrub to be used while bathing.

This process involves physically scrubbing the skin with an abrasive.[5] Mechanical exfoliants include microfiber cloths, adhesive exfoliation sheets, micro-bead facial scrubs, crepe paper, crushed apricot kernel or almond shells, sugar or salt crystals, pumice, and abrasive materials such as sponges, loofahs, brushes, and simply fingernails.[6][7] Facial scrubs are available in over-the-counter products for application by the user. People with dry skin should avoid exfoliants which include a significant portion of pumice, or crushed volcanic rock. Pumice is considered a good material to exfoliate the skin of the feet. Microdermabrasion is another mechanical method of exfoliation.

Chemical[edit]

Chemical exfoliants include scrubs containing salicylic acid, glycolic acid, fruit enzymes, citric acid, or malic acid which may be applied in high concentrations by a medical professional, or in lower concentrations in over-the-counter products. Chemical exfoliation may involve the use of products that contain alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs), beta hydroxy acids (BHAs), or enzymes that act to loosen the glue-like substance that holds the cells together, allowing them to ease away.[5] This type of exfoliation is recommended for people treating acne.[8] In beauty spa treatment on continental Europe, the chemical properties of wine producing grapes are exploited in the practice of vinotherapy which is becoming increasingly popular.[citation needed]

With hair removal[edit]

Some methods of hair removal also exfoliate the skin.

Promotion[edit]

In popular media, exfoliants are advertised as treatments which promote beauty, youthful appearance, or health.[6][original research?]

Disadvantages[edit]

One disadvantage to exfoliation is the high price of some of the products and methods used to achieve it. Exfoliation will lead to some initial redness to the skin. Near the end of chemical peels, the skin will frost, with colors varying from a bright white to grey on the skin surface.[2]

Marine environmental impact of microbeads[edit]

As microbead particles used in mechanical exfoliation are too small (less than 1mm) to be caught by sewage works, this results in tonnes of microbeads being released into the environment which damages marine ecosystems.[9] Consequently, in June 2014 the US state of Illinois became the first to ban the use of microbeads and cosmetics manufacturers such as L'Oreal, Johnson & Johnson and Colgate agreed to use more natural ingredients.[9]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Joe Ball. New Skin - Via Exfoliation. Retrieved on 2008-03-03.
  2. ^ a b c Raymond T Kuwahara, MD. HISTORY OF CHEMOEXFOLIATION. Retrieved on 2008-03-03.
  3. ^ Dr. Rock Positano. Getting Under Your Skin. Retrieved on 2008-03-03.
  4. ^ http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/exfoliation
  5. ^ a b Anitra Brown. What is Exfoliation? Retrieved on 2008-03-03.
  6. ^ a b Alex Muniz. Exfoliation: The Secret To Healthy Skin. Retrieved on 2008-03-03.
  7. ^ Cathy Wong. How to Give Yourself a Dry Brush Exfoliation. Retrieved on 2008-03-03.
  8. ^ Wdxcyber.com. Facial Skin Exfoliation. Retrieved on 2008-03-03.
  9. ^ a b Hitchings, Lauren. "Why Illinois has banned exfoliating face washes". New Scientist. Reed Business Information Ltd. Retrieved 24 June 2014.