I remember when I first became aware of facial scrubs. As a teenager with a skin like lumpy custard, anything that could sandpaper off those lumps and leave skin feeling smooth, if only for a day was good enough for me. And the very word ‘scrub’ was pretty impressive too! If it did what it claimed – well, I was easily impressed in those days!
Fast forward several years and many weekly scrubs later, my skin was reddened, thinner, the lumps were still there, plus bonus lumps. To my credit, I did follow the scrub instructions to the letter!
Luckily, I have since learned so much more about scrubs. I’m still learning now. There are so many different types of scrubs under various names:
Pore refining cleanser
Daily scrub (not good to do every day)
Blackhead eliminating scrub
They’re all essentially doing the same thing, some have more alkaline ingredients than others. BTW, the last one on my list: oil-free scrub for oily skins. The best way to cleanse an oily skin is with an oily cleanser, but that’s for another article.
Our skin constantly renews itself, with the layers gradually over the period of a month moving up. Think of an escalator that’s constantly moving up with the top step disappearing and the bottom step always being replaced. When the layers of skin get to the very top they shed. At least they should if there is enough available water in the skin. If it doesn’t shed, we end up with dead flakes still sitting on the surface held together by the intercellular glue which acts like a cement. This is where the idea of scrubs comes in. Put simply, you get rid of the dead skin layer and you now have a new top layer of fresh cells.
WHEN SCRUBS GO BAD
Frequent scrubbing is not good. Daily scrubbing is definitely not good. Give your skin a break. Practise good cleansing and moisturizing and use the scrub to give a helping hand once a week. Overdo it and you will be taking off more than just the top layer of dead skin. Our skins have a top protective layer called the acid mantle which protects us from environmental pollutants such as UV, dust, air-conditining, heating, alkaline substances and bacteria. Remove this and you leave your skin open to these pollutants plus foreign bodies.
Even if you don’t impair your fine layer of acid mantle, you could tear your skin with the scrub particles. Moreover, if you are prone to spots or have open pores, the particles can get clogged in them and lead to infection and more spots. Whenever I see someone with spots I actually prefer that they don’t scrub at all.
HOW TO SCRUB
Although I would rather do away with the whole physical scrubbing, many people still love this and feel that their skin would not otherwise be clean. If you love your scrub, then follow this advice.
Apply to damp skin, wet your fingertips and using just your fingertips roll in small circular motions with ever so slight pressure. Remember, you are not sandpapering your skin, you’re just trying to loosen off the top dead skin cells. Wash off with warm water.
Men are lucky as their skins are generally thicker than women’s and not as acidic so they can withstand more heavy treatment but even so, their skins are not invincible. Men’s skins can also become red, sore and sensitized.
Cosmetic companies have been getting more sophisticated and most scrubs or exfoliating cleansers nowadays come with microbeads for finer texture. I only found out recently from a Dermaviduals Australian site that all is not well with the microbeads.
In North America, a research team collected thousands of the tiny microbeads that are contained in scrubs and soaps. Not only are they polluting the waters but they look like fish eggs, so to organisms that live in these parts they are being consumed and could end up in our food chain. To see the full article go to:
Still want to scrub?
ALTERNATIVE PHYSICAL EXFOLIATORS
An environmentally safe alternative is a product which contains hydrogenated jojoba oil. The jojoba oil which become a wax formed into a tiny pearl gives a very effective but non-abrasive exfoliation. This is included in Dermaviduals Peeling Cream.
Other ingredients to look out for oatmeal and a centuries-old favourite: rice bran. Don’t go for crushed fruit shells or fruit pits because these can still be abrasive.
LAST BIT OF ADVICE
If you’ve bought a facial scrub and it’s too abrasive, use it on areas of thickened skin on your body, for example, feet and elbows. If it has the dreaded microbeads throw it away!