The truth is, I don’t exfoliate. Why should I? Exfoliating the skin may remove some dirt and dead surface skin, but is it good for me?
I have healthy skin and intend to keep it that way. The 15-20 layers on the surface of my skin are responsible for maintaining hydration, the skin’s most crucial function. Each cell is surrounded by lipids, or fats, that make me virtually waterproof.
For that reason, I can swim in the ocean for hours with nothing passing into or out of my skin. Each skin cell contains compounds that act as sponges, drawing water from the deeper skin layers up to the skin surface. Basically, my skin moisturizes itself – and so does yours! Consider that some people never moisturize. My dad is one of them, yet his skin remains in place without chipping and falling in pieces to the ground.
Getting back to exfoliation, why should I remove the very layers of skin that my body needs to maintain adequate skin hydration? I need them. Yes, exfoliating the skin may remove some dirt, oil, and makeup, but so does a mild cleanser. And a scrub may remove dead surface cells, but so does a mild cleanser. Unfortunately, the exfoliant may also remove the very layers of skin that are keeping my skin hydrated.
I like the way my skin feels to my touch after exfoliating, but little, if any, scientific evidence exists proving it’s actually good for me. I’m one of the lucky ones; I have fair skin that could likely tolerate a relaxing exfoliation treatment at my local spa. Those with darker complexions and/or sensitive skin may experience irritation and inflammation from the procedure. These people may experience a post inflammatory pigmentation reaction or a darkening of the skin, a not uncommon side effect.
All that being said, some people love exfoliation treatments and swear by the results. I get that – and understand we all need to make our own decisions. But no, exfoliation is not for me.
Fayne Frey, M.D.
Fayne Frey, M.D., is a board-certified clinical and surgical dermatologist practicing in West Nyack, New York, where she specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of skin cancer. She is a nationally recognized expert in the effectiveness and formulation of over-the-counter skincare products. Dr. Frey is the Founder of FryFace.com, an educational skincare information and product selection service website that clarifies and simplifies the overwhelming choice of effective, safe and affordable products encountered in the skincare aisles. Dr. Frey is a fellow of both the American Academy of Dermatology and the American Society for Dermatologic Surgery.