Exfoliating Sensitive Skin

May 4, 2020

by ActivMD Derm Spa™

A proper skin care routine involves a few important steps, one of them being exfoliation; the process of removing dead skin cells from the surface of your skin. Your skin naturally sheds off dead skin cells to make room for new cells but sometimes they don’t shed completely.

Exfoliation can help.

It can be a rigorous process, though, and if not done properly, can be harmful to your skin. Having a professional skin analysis will help you establish what type of exfoliation would be best for your skin. And if your skin is sensitive, choosing an exfoliation technique may require a bit more consideration and planning than other skin types. Having sensitive skin that is prone to irritation can be difficult to manage.

Often you may be nervous to introduce something new to your skincare routine in fear of causing a breakout, redness, or a rash! We understand completely. However, there are products and methods that are safe for even the most sensitive skin.

Exfoliation can either be done mechanically or chemically.

Physical exfoliation is manually ‘rubbing’ the skin’s surface, working against the top layers of the skin to remove dead, dull surface cells. Physical exfoliants are most often referred to as “scrubs”. They include micro beads, crystals, and other fine granules. There are also tools on the market for physical exfoliation, such as electronic brushes, dermaplaning blades. Using physical exfoliation can be quite unpleasant for some people and used on sensitive skin, it can take you down a slippery slope towards inflammation. For this reason, many people tend to prefer a chemical exfoliant method.

Although the word “chemical” may sound a bit intimidating, it is simply a descriptive term for how the ingredients in the product perform. Instead of sloughing off dead skin cells with a tool or scrub, chemical exfoliants dissolve the cellular “glue” that is holding your dead skin cells together. Chemical exfoliants are a great option for people who have deep congestion and find physical exfoliation irritating. If you are using a chemical exfoliant like AHA (alpha hydroxy acid) it is important to start slowly and ensure you are not using other products which may intensify the treatment. Another option is to use a retinoid (like the ēcōMD vegan retinol – available Fall of 2020) which, although technically not an exfoliant, promotes cell turnover and can be gentler than an acid. Both acids and retinoids need to be introduced into your skin care regimen slowly. It is recommended to do a patch test before using them over your whole face.

At ActivMD Derm Spa™, we recommend starting exfoliation in your teenage years.

Not only does this build a lifelong habit, but it also is particularly important during the time of hormonal changes when you are producing more sebum. When deciding what type of exfoliant is best for you we examine your skin’s sensitivity and will recommend a product that is customized to your skin type.

Exfoliating, even for sensitive skin, is a necessary part of a healthy skin care regimen and we are happy to guide you.