Keeping Your Skin Beautiful: Is Exfoliation the Anti-Aging Secret You Need?

Not so sure about exfoliation? What you’re about to read may make you want to reconsider. When it comes to anti-aging, exfoliation is one of the most effective ways to promote youthful skin. And that’s not all. In addition to its main act of sloughing off dead skin cells and promoting softer, smoother skin, exfoliation can increase circulation, get rid of cellulite, and even assist the body with its natural regeneration process. All of which result in brighter, firmer, more healthy-looking skin.

Curious to know more? We’ve got the 411 on all the ways exfoliation aids in anti-aging — plus, the most popular ways to exfoliate — ahead.

It aids in cellular turnover

woman's shoulder with scrub of coffee
Woman’s shoulder with coffee scrub |

As we age, our body’s natural ability to shed skin cells slows down a lot. Younger skin regenerates every 28 days, but over time the natural turnover rate declines. According to the Lead Esthetician at True Botanicals, Kevin Dooley, “this can lead to a variety of changes and can result in clogged pores, change in texture, and dull skin.” No, thank you!

Fortunately, exfoliation can help speed things up by working to unclog pores and improve overall cellular turnover. This, in turn, allows the skin to operate at its best and results in smoother, softer, and healthier-looking skin.

It enhances absorption of topical skin care products

woman applying cream to her face
Woman applying cream to her face |

In addition to getting rid of dead skin cells and aiding in the body’s natural regeneration process, “proper exfoliation helps to enhance absorption of topical skin care products,” says Dooley. “[Which] ensures maximum delivery of the potent nutrients in your everyday products to penetrate to the deepest layers of your skin, where the aging process initiates,” he adds.

It stimulates collagen and elastin production

Woman cleans the skin coffee skrub
Woman using a scrub on her face |

Because of its ability to stimulate overall cellular turnover, exfoliation can also aid in collagen and elastin production. Collagen and elastin are crucial to anti-aging and youthful-looking skin. That’s because they both work together to strengthen the skin’s structure and improve its ability to stretch and bounce back. As we age, our collagen and elastin levels decrease, so a boost in production can diminish wrinkles and result in more youthful-looking skin.

It boosts circulation and supports the body’s natural detoxification process

woman getting exfoliation treatment
Woman getting exfoliation treatment |

According to Yon-Ka Paris’ National Director of Education, Katherine Tomasso, “the stimulating action [of exfoliation] can also boost circulation and support the body’s natural detoxifying process.” This, in turn, can help fade the look of stretch marks, get rid of cellulite, and more.

In addition to softer, smoother, more supple-looking skin, exfoliation allows newer, healthier skin cells to develop. As we’ve previously mentioned, sloughing off dead skin cells promotes cellular regeneration, boosts circulation and enhances the body’s detoxification process — all of which contribute to newer, healthier skin cells.

It brightens the skin and aids in moisture loss

Woman receiving back massage
Woman receiving back massage |

Dead skin cells are not just the cause of rough, dry skin; they’re the cause of dull skin, too! Exfoliation can help slough off the dullness and promote a brighter, more illuminated complexion. But that’s not all. If you’re using an exfoliant formulated with Alpha Hydroxy Acid (AHA), you may see an increase in moisture levels. “Alpha Hydroxy Acid has been shown to stimulate production of natural ceramides and hyaluronic acid to prevent moisture loss,” says Dooley. “It also targets hyperpigmentation by inhibiting melanin-triggering enzymes,” he adds. Note to self: add more AHA exfoliants into our skin care regimen.

Different types of exfoliation

woman imposes on hand scrub cosmetic
Woman using a hand scrub |

Before we get into the most common ways to exfoliate, let’s discuss the different types of exfoliation. There are two ways to get rid of dead skin: Chemical exfoliation or physical exfoliation.

Physical exfoliation means that something is physically sloughing off dead skin — i.e., grains, a brush, and sometimes even a scalpel. On the other hand, chemical exfoliation uses chemicals and acids to remove dead skin and aid in cell turnover. Both types of exfoliants are effective and both types can promote softer, smoother, brighter, more youthful-looking skin. It all comes down to preference.

Popular ways to exfoliate

herbal relaxing product
Beauty treatments and candles |

Now that we have the exfoliation basics covered, here are some of the most popular ways to exfoliate:

Sugar & salt scrubs: Perhaps one of the most common ways to get rid of dry, dead skin is by using a salt or sugar scrub. This physical exfoliant is often formulated with a skin-nourishing oil, such as coconut oil. They work to slough off dead skin cells and nourish the skin at the same time.

Dry brushing: Another physical way to exfoliate the skin? Through dry brushing. Dry brushing utilizes a dry, natural-bristle brush to slough off dead skin cells and promote better circulation within the skin. And that’s not all. Exfoliating the skin with a dry brush can also get rid of cellulite, firm and tighten the skin, and help reduce the look of stretch marks.

Peels: One of the most popular ways to chemically exfoliate the skin is through the use of peels. At-home facial peels utilize Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHA) and Beta Hydroxy Acids (BHA) to penetrate the skin and remove dead skin cell buildup.

Read more: Anti-Aging Ingredients That Work: The Best Vitamin C Beauty Products We’re Obsessed With