The key to healthy and glowy skin is maintaining its barrier function. The outermost layer of skin, the stratum corneum, is a layer of flattened skin cells encased in fat. It works to keep moisture inside your skin and keep irritants of all sorts—from viruses and bacteria to toxic chemicals and free radicals—out. If the barrier becomes compromised, your skin becomes more prone to infection, irritation, breakouts, and extreme dryness, not to mention all varieties of itchy blotchiness.
Having too much on top of that barrier—dead skin cells, dirt, oil, pollution—can compromise it. This is why exfoliating is so good for your skin as it promotes healthy skin-cell turnover, which improves barrier function.
As we age, the skin’s ability to rid the dead skin cells becomes more difficult, resulting in skin that appears dull, thicker and less toned. Exfoliating with either a manual or chemical exfoliant will remove this build-up of dead, damaged cells and stimulate the regeneration of new cells, improving the skin’s appearance, feel and texture.
If I could exfoliate morning, noon and night I would! It’s my skincare obsession. But, too much of a good thing can result in an impaired barrier function, which is essentially a fast route to unhealthy, unhappy skin. So moderation is really important. How can you tell what moderation looks like? You err on the side of caution. If your skin tends to be more sensitive, go super slow. Start with one product, which may end up being all you need. If you’ve been using an exfoliating serum and you try a new face scrub and your skin starts to feel a little raw, pull back. Even if you’re at the other end of the spectrum and have skin of steel (as I do), remember that even skin of steel has limits. For me, I use the Saya AHA Face Exfoliant twice a week and the Serum Factory Party Peel every other night (avoiding same day use across the two products). I find this combination works best to keep my skin clear of congestion and to break up my pigmentation.
The thing to remember is that more will not make your skin glowier, fresher, and smoother. But the right amount absolutely will.