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Friday, September 18, 2015

Exfoliation: Thoughts on BufPufs, Washcloths, Gommage, and more!

Exfoliation helps to remove surface dead cells, giving your skin smoother texture and a healthy, well-nourished glow. Getting rid of dead cells also helps keep your pores from clogging, and the act of exfoliation helps to increase circulation, which always services the skin. Improved circulation helps with cellular respiration, which is how your skin really breathes—through the oxygen carried in the blood. Toxins are dumped into the bloodstream, so stepping up circulation helps with this exchange as well.

I tell my clients when they can’t come in for a facial, exfoliate! Exfoliation is certainly not the be-all and end-all of healthy skin, but it can take away layers of stress from your face, revealing the natural beauty hidden beneath. If you aren’t currently exfoliating, I recommend finding a suitable exfoliation system that works for your skin, your lifestyle, and your pocketbook.

You talk a lot about exfoliation and how important it is for the skin. Does using a Buf-Puf count as exfoliation or is it cleansing?

Buf-Puf is a type of facial sponge made from polyester fibers that is meant to exfoliate the skin’s surface. I have two concerns about using this product. The first and most important one is Buf-Pufs can be irritating. Even the type for very sensitive skin feels rough to the touch; once you start rubbing this on your skin, it can irritate even the most non-sensitive skin. My second concern is about cleanliness. Buf-Pufs, like loofah sponges, harbor bacteria. No doubt some of the dead skin that is being exfoliated is also sticking around in the sponge itself. Without thoroughly rinsing the Buf-Puf after every use, you may run the risk of bacteria multiplying inside the material. Overall, I find that this product is simply too rough to use on the face.

Another way to exfoliate is to use a gommage-type product. In French, gommage means to remove or erase. In this case, removing dead skin and erasing dehydration. The secondary benefit of this type of product is it is a gel and is therefore hydrating to the outer skin. So not only do you get the exfoliation benefits, but you are actually helping to moisturize your skin as well. Since there are no abrasive particles in this gel peel to irritate red or inflamed skin (like acne), gommage is well suited for even the most sensitive skin.

A scrub is probably the best-known product used to exfoliate. Scrubs contain abrasive particles from either organic or inorganic sources that, when rubbed over the skin, help to dislodge pieces of dead skin, which helps to make the skin feel smooth. Sometimes scrubs, because they take oil and water off the skin’s surface, can make your face feel dry although it is really dehydration (surface water loss) you are feeling. Scrubs don’t offer the most effective type of exfoliation, but they surely are the easiest products to find.

Sometimes I like to mix equal parts of my cleanser with a scrub. This way, there aren’t as many granules to irritate my skin, and I still get some circulatory benefits as well as some exfoliation. Try this if you have sensitive skin or don’t have luck using a scrub by itself.

I don’t recommend using washcloths as your exfoliator of choice. They can harbor bacteria, they are not gentle on your skin, and they can move around a lot of skin without you being aware of it. Once in a while, this wouldn’t be a problem, but day after day, year after year, this can’t be good for the elasticity of your skin. If you have to use a washcloth, be gentle and try not to rub your skin too hard. Also, use a fresh (clean) cloth every time; don’t just let it dry out and reuse it time after time. Bacteria may accumulate in a used washcloth.

No matter what you choose to use, exfoliation is paramount to healthy and healthy-looking skin. So when in doubt, exfoliate!

HOT TIP: If you want your skin to look radiant before you go out, so beautiful that you probably wouldn’t even want to cover it with foundation—exfoliate.

For more exfoliation tips, see: