At the end of a long hard day at work, especially in hot and sultry conditions, all you want to do is get back home, relax and get rid of the dust, sweat and muck off your face and body. A soothing bath always feels great but sometimes, when you really just want to feel clean, a great scrub is what you need.
Scrubs, also known as exfoliators or peelings, are widely available in the cosmetics market. But what exactly is the purpose of all this scrubbing? Not all skin types are the same. The skin on your face is different from that on the rest of your body so you cannot use the same solution for both your face and body. So how exactly should one go about it?
It is essential to first understand what exfoliation means. Exfoliation is a natural process carried out by our skin to get rid of dry and dead skin cells and excess oil on the surface. This process happens continuously all over the body including the face. Removing the dead cells from the surface is essential to allow the new layer to rise to the top. But often dead cells remain on your body and need to be cleaned off manually to aid the exfoliation process. The natural process slows down with aging so exfoliation becomes more important as one gets older.
A good cleanser will not only clean your skin but also prepare it for the next steps of your beauty routine – nourishing, moisturizing and even make-up application. However excessive scrubbing can also do more harm than good, so maintaining a balance is essential.
Types of Exfoliation
Chemical exfoliators are generally acidic with a gel-like or watery consistency. Their main action is to dissolve the dirt and grime off the skin. Chemical peelings come in several strengths depending on how invasive you need the product to be. In our experience chemical exfoliation is very effective, but it is necessary to tread with caution.
If you use a strong peeling which turns out to be more aggressive than your skin can handle, your skin can feel a slight burning sensation, irritation, and redness. In other instances, while the skin may have an appearance of being clean, radiant and glowing, in fact, you could end up being vulnerable to infections and breakouts due to a lack of a natural protective barrier.
Mechanical exfoliators generally contain some type of abrasive agent which will physically scrub off the dead skin cells away as you apply the product. The size of the particulate matter is important because the skin on the face is much more delicate than that on the rest of the body. Hence facial scrubs need to be much softer and composed of a finer grain size than body scrubs. Scrubs meant for the body, especially those with large particles such as nuts, should not be used on the face. Choosing a finely ground sugar-based scrubs is much better suited for the face.
What Ayurveda says about Cleansing
Ayurveda, literally the ‘knowledge of life’, states that all human beings are governed by three life energies, also known as doshas, – Vata | Pitta | Kapha. These three energies need to be in balance and harmony to achieve optimum skin care and this can be done by following a simple three-pillar strategy for skin care for all skin types.
Cleanse | Nourish | Moisturize
Cleanse – remove dead cells and prepare the skin
Nourish – provide anti-oxidants and other vital nutrients
Moisturize – hydrate for healthy skin
The first pillar of this strategy is cleansing and this is important regardless of your Dosha or your skin type. But according to your skin type, you may need to adapt how exactly you go about with your cleansing.
Dry skin (Vata dosha)
Main Issues : early visible fine lines, excessive dryness, flaky skin, etc.
Frequency : once a week is sufficient
Recommendation: a gentle exfoliation using Chickpea flour with water or mixed with yogurt
Oily skin (Kapha dosha)
Main Issues : Visible pores, excessive oiliness
Frequency : up to two times per week
Recommendation: exfoliate with rice flour and/or fine or powdered brown sugar. Oil is your skin’s natural barrier against the elements, so don’t go overboard in trying to dry out your skin. Your skin will produce even more oil to try and protect itself leading to a vicious negative cycle resulting in clogged pores which could lead to spots and blemishes.
Sensitive skin (Mix of Vata and Pitta dosha)
Main Issues : easily irritated
Frequency : maximum once a week
Recommendation: very gentle exfoliation. Exfoliation with chickpea flour works very well but in case of very sensitive skin just using natural yogurt is sufficient.
Combination skin (Pitta dosha)
Issues : dry, oily or sensitive in different places on the face
Frequency : up to two times per week
Recommendation: identify the specific areas on your face that need specific treatment as identified above in case of dry, oily or sensitive skin. In general, gentle exfoliation with rice flour or chickpea flour works well. In case you have acne, consider washing with well-known antiseptic agents such as neem or turmeric. Mixing turmeric with chickpea flour and gentle scrubbing is also a great option.
Normal (balance of all doshas)
For the remaining lucky ones, in general, they can try a mix of all the above and observe how skin behaves. Even normal skin can at times suffer from dryness, oiliness of sensitivity from time to time depending on changes in diet, weather, changes in surroundings, moving to a different country, stress levels, etc. So regular exfoliation is still recommended to keep the skin healthy.
- Cleansing is a basic pillar of Ayurveda skin care and exfoliation is necessary to achieve deep a cleansing.
- Exfoliation is the process of shedding dead cells and oil from the surface of the skin.
- Exfoliators can also be called peelings (mostly chemical-based) or scrubs (usually mechanical action
- The skin on the face is thinner and more sensitive than on your body.
- Adapt your cleansing routine and frequency according to your skin type.
People throughout ages have been exfoliating their skin to keep it fresh and healthy. You can find descriptions of scrubbing in many natural medicines such as Ayurveda, Chinese medicine or Middle Eastern cultures, using roots of herbs, plants or mud to remove dead skin.
Regardless of whether you prefer chemical exfoliation or mechanical exfoliation, it is very important to understand your skin type and follow a regular cleansing routine. Removal of dead skin cells becomes more and more important with age. Cleansing not only helps to refresh your skin but also helps the products applied later on to be absorbed better.
However, it is important not to overdo it and avoid excessive scrubbing which can cause more harm than benefit.