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Are You Choosing the Right Exfoliation Method for your Client?

By: Terri Wojak
Posted: May 28, 2013, from the June 2013 issue of Skin Inc. magazine.

A rough-surfaced instrument is used to polish the skin during the performance of microdermabrasion.

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Learning about the differences between the types of exfoliation is necessary before offering these services. They include surface exfoliants, superficial mechanical exfoliation, superficial chemical exfoliation, and a variety of superficial- to medium-depth exfoliation techniques.

Surface exfoliants

Surface exfoliants are often purchased by the consumer because they can be used in conjunction with other methods or as a part of an at-home maintenance program. Ingredients that are frequently included in beaded surface exfoliation products are polyethylene beads, crushed herbs, nuts, crystals or other materials that gently polish the surface of the skin. Caution should be taken by skin care professionals and clients, because some of these products can actually cause minor wounds in the skin. Some clients prefer the feel of these mechanical products because the exfoliation is more tactile; this does not mean it is the best method, especially in the cases of those with sensitized skin and acne vulgaris. There are other surface exfoliants available that contain enzymes and mild concentrations
of hydroxy acids—up to 5%.

Enzymes. Enzymes are typically derived from fruit acids, most commonly pineapple (bromelain) and papaya (papain). Depending on the strength, enzymes can either be used as a home treatment or an in-spa exfoliation. They are known to break up dead skin cells on the surface of the skin. Not all enzyme products are mild; there are products available that combine enzymes and hydroxy acids. It is important to become thoroughly educated and trained on any treatment or product being offered in your facility.

Superficial mechanical exfoliation

Superficial mechanical exfoliation treatments consist of microdermabrasion and dermaplaning.

Microdermabrasion. A rough-surfaced instrument is used to polish the skin during the performance of microdermabrasion. Although microdermabrasion is one of the most common procedures performed by skin care professionals, it is not the best option for many skin conditions. It creates suction through a loophole that gathers up dead skin and used particles. This suction can cause more harm than good on sensitive and inflamed skin. A chemical exfoliant would be better suited for sensitive skin types.

For more in-depth information on exfoliation, purchase the Exploring Mechanical Exfoliation Techniques video from Skin Inc. Video Education, featuring Terri Wojak!