Anti-Aging Ingredients: Exfoliants

:by Kate Dee, MD

The skin is constantly making new skin cells (keratinocytes). These start at the basal layer of the epidermis, work their way to the surface and then slough off. As you age, that process slows down by 30-50%. What used to take 6 weeks can take up to 8-12 weeks, causing a build-up of old dead cells. In a previous post about PRP therapy, I explained how the dermis thins out with age. Imagine the big combo effect: thinned-out dull rough discolored skin prone to wrinkles and drooping. Take heart-- we can prevent this!

I've talked about how Retinol and Vitamin C both boost skin turnover. Adding an exfoliant to your daily regimen will help remove those built-up layers of dead skin. Exfoliants improve skin texture and color, unclog pores, and allow moisturizers and serums to be better absorbed. They improve the appearance of sun-damaged skin, dry skin, and thickened skin caused by a variety of things, including abnormal cell growth, smoking, and heavy moisturizers.

Glycolic Acid and Lactic Acid are alpha-hydroxy acids (AHA) that are great exfoliants for normal to dry skin. Glycolic and lactic acids also have water-binding properties beneficial for improving dry skin. Research also demonstrates that use of a well-formulated AHA product can also increase collagen production.

Salicylic acid is a beta hydroxy acid (BHA) that works similarly to AHA’s, but is better for those people dealing with oily skin, blackheads and acne. BHA has four benefits: 1) exfoliates the surface of skin 2) penetrates through the oil pores, unclogging debris that can lead to acne, 3) antibacterial properties kill acne-causing bacteria, and 4) anti-inflammatory properties aid in skin repair. Regular use of a salicylic acid exfoliant will improve skin’s appearance, whether blemishes are present or not. For wrinkle reduction, salicylic acid increases collagen production, smoothes superficial lines, reduces redness and diminishes sun-induced skin discolorations.

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