Why do you need to exfoliate your skin? Well, you're actually just accelerating a natural process called desquamation, in which our skin moves older skin cells toward the outermost layers of the skin, and they eventually slough away, leaving behind fresher, smoother skin. As we age, our skin becomes much less effective at desquamation: The matrix in which skin cells sit (like a biological glue that holds them together) becomes thicker and does not let go of older cells as easily. The result is a dull complexion with less of that healthy glow you had when you were in your teens.
So, exfoliation is one way you can help your skin stay up to speed with this natural process, restoring it to a brighter, illuminated appearance. The trick is to exfoliate the right way, with the right frequency. If done too harshly or too often, you will take away too many layers and expose other, less mature skin cells that are not yet capable of the demanding work required at the outer layers of the skin. Overexfoliated skin will appear red, irritated, and blotchy, and conditions such as dermatitis, acne, and rosacea can become more visible.
Maybe you're interested in getting rid of some of that dry skin. Easy, you might think. Not so fast. Exfoliation is a touchy subject, but I'm here to guide you through its subtle nuances just in case you're rusty: