Exfoliating Cleansers: A Natural Cleansing Progression
If the combining of opposing strategies is about strengthening a common purpose while balancing the conflicting factors, nothing exhibits this concept better in terms of skincare than the exfoliating cleanser. Cleansing, the initial most important and most basic component to any skincare regimen, gently releases the skin from the day’s debris and environmental pollutants preparing it for what’s to come. Exfoliates also purge the skin of debris but provide an escalation factor in mimicking what the skin does naturally in stripping the skin of residue, dead cells and gland oil build-up that aging skin can no longer accomplish efficiently with regular cleansing alone.
In an industry that originated with a few simple steps to proper skincare, cleansing was the purest way possible to properly care for the skin. As perceptions about appearance and aging changed so did the number of skincare products sitting on the bathroom counter. In a society where the streamlining of processes is common and the need for multi-functioning products is the norm, the skincare industry’s product lines had to conform. This change has also complicated the selection of a basic facial cleanser, in that cleansers can no longer just clean the skin. They must perform other functions to compete for the attention of the multi-tasking mindset.
Beyond the surface, more abrasive exfoliation bolsters what the skin does naturally, a process in decline as the skin ages. The clearing of trapped oil in the skin’s pores, the layering of dead skin cells, and the stimulating of cell turnover all work to maintain optimum skin health. However, selecting an exfoliate that doesn’t damage the skin in the process can be the challenge. Often, exfoliates such as crush nut shells, synthetic plastic beads, and rough cloths can perform the task but lead to scaring and increased irritation. Chemical alternatives in beta and alpha hydroxies such as glycolic, lactic, salicylic acids often derived from plants and other organic materials tackle cell regeneration from below skin’s surface. According to Lisa VanBockern, licensed Aesthetician and owner of Tempe, Arizona-based Skin Script Products, “Crushed nut shells can be too aggressive and create microscopic tears in the skin which causes irritation. Chemicals are working their way into the skin and actually doing something at the surface and below the surface of the skin.”
Combining the benefits of a simple cleanser with the enhanced stimulation of an exfoliate provides the gentle detergents the face needs to rid it of oil and debris on the surface while incorporating the more deep-penetrating action essential for pore-reshaping, dead cell-purging and clogged oil gland-pumping. However, aside from deciding tolerance for crushed shell or bead scraping or acid stripping, frequency must also be considered. Exfoliating cleansers provide the best opportunity for consistent use in that it is a major component in a product designed for daily use–the cleanser. Also exfoliates alone can bring more harm than benefit if used improperly for optimum results, Orange County plastic surgeon and director of OCBody.com, Dr. John Di Saia MD warns, “Exfoliants using mechanical means (beads, shells) should be mixed conservatively if at all with chemical exfoliants. The combination in inexperienced hands can lead to scarring that can be hard to correct.”
The gentle nature of cleansers can counteract the potential harm exfoliates can caused if used alone. As a result, selecting the most effective exfoliating cleanser is based on the appropriate skin type for the cleansing component and the condition of the skin for the exfoliating component to achieve a more cleansed skin across all of its layers.