Thursday, 25 June 2015

Chemical Exfoliation | Part I | Am I damaging my skin? My thoughts

If you are starting to compose a simple skincare routine, or your bathroom counter resembles a small beauty boutique or you follow Kylie Jenner on Instagram, you have probably heard of chemical exfoliation.

These past few weeks I have been wondering whether using chemical exfoliants consistently is actually beneficial long term. My issue is that whenever I have a skin problem, whether it is a pimple, hyperpigmentation or dullness, I just go ahead and exfoliate away, in one form or another. Our skin sheds well on its own, and while I still think they occasional nudge is fine, (probably beneficial), I think that this mentality of causing damage for immediate results may be doing more harm than good.

"facial" Photo by Zenspa licensed under CC BY 2.0

For one, most products aimed at 'healing' and 'resurfacing' usually contain an ingredient to aid in penetration. It is usually alcohol: denatured alcohol, SD alcohol, propadeniol, butyl 
glycol; they essentially disturb the top protective layer of skin, so that exfoliating agents can be more effective. In 1991 a study was conducted where ethanol was applied to the skin, and results countered the common belief that alcohol "disorders" the lipid barrier, as ethanol actually entered the skin and removed a portion of the barrier material (Bommannan, Potts and Guy). Honestly, I don't know how that's better, or if it's even significantly any different....So alcohol allows exfoliants to have VIP access to skin. Is this a good thing?

Exfoliating on a daily basis may seem like overkill, but I think many of us use products that 'break down' our skin, whether we realise or not. So, I've decided to really explore the art of chemical exfoliation over the next few weeks. And, really get to know how these chemicals work. Hopefully, by the end, I can decide whether to cut back, or turn to a different way of repairing skin. I hope you enjoying reading my  thoughts and findings as I head into skincare nerdtown!

xo, Amali

Bommannan, D., Russell O. Potts, and Richard H. Guy. 'Examination Of The Effect Of Ethanol On Human Stratum Corneum In Vivo Using Infrared Spectroscopy'. Journal of Controlled Release 16.3 (1991): 299-304. Web.
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