There are a number of methods of exfoliation that range in terms of complexity, expense, and results. Some of these methods are quite simple and can be done at home on a regular basis. Others require a trip to the spa for a treatment by a trained aesthetician. The most intense kinds of exfoliation require a visit to a physician or dermatologist.
Exfoliation is, in simplest terms, the sloughing off of dead skin cells and removal of dirt and excess oil from the pores. Products that are used to exfoliate the skin vary in terms of the type and concentration of exfoliant that is included in the formula as well as the area of the body that the product is intended for. An exfoliating cleanser for the face, for example, would do a poor job of removing callouses on the feet. As follows, an exfoliating product for the feet would be far too harsh for the skin on the face.
The mildest exfoliation products are exfoliating cleansers, exfoliating masks, and special exfoliating sponges that are meant to be used with basic cleansers on the face. These products can be purchased at most drugs stores and, when the product instructions are followed, can be used safely at home. They are usually intended for use on a daily or weekly basis.
Microdermabrasion is a medium-strength kind of exfoliation. It is a process during which the face is thoroughly exfoliated. The process involves a fine, sand-like substance that may be made of zinc oxide or aluminum oxide crystals. This process takes off more dead skin cells than home cleansers and can also be used to treat scars. Although this kind of exfoliation is commonly used in spas, there are now at-home microdermabrasion systems on the market.
The last and most intense kind of exfoliation is a chemical peel. The results of a light chemical peel are usually on par with the results of a microdermabrasion treatment. The results of a medium or deep chemical peel, on the other hand, are more intense.
These exfoliation procedures literally use a chemical process to peel away layers of dead skin. A deep chemical peel can even be used to remove pre-cancerous growths on the face. Unlike exfoliation procedures that can be performed at home or in the spa, it is important for chemical peels to be performed by a trained medical professional who can also oversee the healing process.