Exfoliating for Healthy Skin -- Dr. Barbara Reed -- iVillage Beauty Skin Clin

Is exfoliating an effective way to maintain healthy skin?

Exfoliating means to remove dried skin cells from the surface of the skin. The root word is “foliage,” as in tree leaves.

The epidermis, or outer layer of skin, goes through a process of reproduction and maturation. Cells at the bottom of the epidermis,basal cells, produce daughter cells, which move up through the epidermis. Later, hardening, orcornification, of the cells takes place. As new cells come to the surface, the old cornified cells shed. The cornified layer’s function is to act as a barrier between self and world, keeping moisture inside the body and foreign substances outside.

When cornified cells remain on the surface, the skin looks dull and flaky. Exfoliation refers to the process of removing these cells.



Exfoliating products can be abrasive sponges, such as loofahs, or creams, such as AHAs. Even a washcloth or bath towel can be anexfoliant.

Mild exfoliation can help your skin look moist and shiny, but harsh exfoliation should be avoided. Too much exfoliation can disrupt the barrier function of your skin, leaving you more susceptible to dryness, sunburn and other skin problems.

There is no single effective way to maintain healthy skin, but the following will help:

  • Wear sunscreen and sunglasses to prevent premature aging from unnecessary sun exposure.
  • Stop smoking. Smoking causes premature skin aging and gives the skin a peculiar yellow cast.
  • Minimize stress. Stressed people look older than those who manage stress effectively.
  • Sleep, eat and exercise wisely.
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