Exfoliation: how much is too much

Alexandria Professional Sweet Cheeks Facial Exfoliant

By Lina Kennedy

Don’t be shy; take the whole bowl! I think it’s absolutely amazing that something like sugar can play such havoc on our health when ingested. Yet, when used externally, it can be so wonderful in helping to create order in our outermost skin cells’ appearance.

You might be thinking that “creating order” is somewhat of a peculiar way to describe skin. In reality, the skin’s structure can certainly expose a less than orderly skin care regimen. I get so frustrated and very excited all in the same moment whenever I take a look at someone’s skin and its most notable characteristics are patchy skin cells, sallow appearance, and worst of all ingrown hairs. My frustration comes from knowing that this skin condition is completely preventable. While the excitement comes from sharing that knowledge in hopes that the individual will execute a better skincare regime. I’ve been involved with the beauty industry for nearly 16 years, and to this day I still get dumbfounded whenever I see disorderly kept skin.

Exfoliating the skin: Clients’ home regime

Exfoliating the skin is the process of removing the uppermost layer of the skin. As a living tissue, the skin goes through an aging process known as keratinization: a cycle that forms the stratum corneum- or horny layer. Not all skin types and colors keratinize at the same speed. And, various effects and damages to the skin will also intervene with the skin’s natural keratinizing process. i.e.: sunburns or other types of burns to the skin, medications, even products can affect the end result of this skin-cell replacement cycle.

Be kind and sweet to your skin

Regular exfoliation will help to prevent dead skin cell build-up. What we need to remind our clients is that mistreating the skin with products that cause micro-tears will not only defeat the purpose of exfoliation; is will actually make the process more challenging because the skin cells will keratinize in a “tighter weave pattern” to heal the micro-tear. This in turn make it much more difficult to slough away (remove) the top layer of the skin. Teach your clients to exfoliate with gentleness and they will experience less or no skin trauma.

Raw facts about sugar

Sugar is sugar no matter which form it’s in. Lots of photos think that when they see “raw sugar” written on a package, they are in fact buying “healthier sugar”. Not true! Brown sugar, whether crushed or simply less refined, is sugar juice from the sugarcane that has been heated to create thick molasses containing sugar crystals. The molasses is then spun to release the crystals…creating white sugar. To produce brown sugar, molasses is re-introduced in smaller quantities. I enjoy exfoliating with a granules of white sugar rather than the brown sugar because it exfoliates more effectively.

What’s so special about sugar?

Natural AHA occurrence…

If I mention AHA’s (alpha-hydroxy acids) and glycolic acid, which is part of that chemical family, you would likely get an image of exfoliation. AHA’s work by stimulating dead skin cells on the surface of the skin and within the pores to facilitate the exfoliation process. But did you know that glycolic acid naturally occurs in sugar canes? That’s right… even if you didn’t scrub with your sugar exfoliant , the sugar would still aid in exfoliation just by sitting on the skin.

Eases psoriasis…

Sugar scrubs are also a safe and effective way to ease discomfort caused by psoriasis and very dry skin.

Sugar is naturally antibacterial and will not sting your skin even if it gets into a cut or scratch.

Natural healing properties…

It’s no secret that sugar was ( and still is in some places) used to speed up incision healing and other skin conditions while preventing infections from occurring. It is also used on burn victims for the very same reasons. Bacteria do not breed in high concentrates of sugar, making it an obvious choice to serve certain medical purposes.

Sugar-scrub it off!

By combining white sugar granules the high quality shea butter, you create a very effective and safe exfoliating method to keep your skin looking its best. Shea carries its own multi-benefits such as:

Healing to the skin- burns and wounds
Relieve discomfort caused by eczema, severe dry skin, and rashes
Help to retain elasticity in the skin- prevention of premature aging
Aids cellular regeneration
Helps to protect the skin damaging effects of the sun- naturally contains an ingredient used in sunblock; cinnamic acid
Shea butter acts as a natural barrier against damaging elements- pollutants, smog, and even cigarette smoke

The combination of shea and sugar work so well together to exfoliate and to treat many skin conditions. As the client massages the mixture onto the skin, they are not only exfoliating the dead cells, they are also helping to penetrate the shea “into the skin”. The nice thing about the scrub is that all you need to do is rinse away the sugar with warm water, and this shea will remain on the skin so that you receive all of its wonderful benefits!

Exfoliating the skin- for professional use only

Offer professional treatments in conjunction to the clients’ home regimen to achieve maximum results.

Professional sugar scrub treatments

Where clients won’t be able to treat their entire body by themselves at home, assuming no one is there volunteering… This is a perfect opportunity for you to promote a joint effort between you and your client to help them achieve optimum results. You’ll take care of the entire body every 2 months while they take care of the more frequently troubled areas such as legs and bikini every week until the skin has rid itself off existing problems at which time they would reduce home treatments to bi-weekly.
You don’t need a wet bed to perform sugar scrubs at your spa because sugar easily dissolves with warm water. You can either rinse the client with a bowl of warm water and cloths or you can send them to a shower. Great for in-between tanning sessions!

It doesn’t stop here…There’s another sugar exfoliating option

Usually when I write about “professional sugaring”, it relates to extracting “deeper” into the pores for an even more effective exfoliation of dead cell accumulation. When dead skin cells mix with sebum ( oils secreted by the sebaceous glands), the pores become more embedded with this debris mixture. The sugaring technique gently releases dead skin cells on the first flick. By performing a second or third molding process, the sugar seeps deep into the pores and “collects” this accumulation by “sticking” to the debris priming for the “flick action” to help unblock the clogged pores.

You can perform this sugaring exfoliation treatment bi-monthly when your clients are using the home regimen in conjunction to your professional treatments. When the skin reaches optimum condition by ridding itself off dead skin cell accumulation, sallow color, and perhaps even ingrown hairs, you might suggest that your client revert to bi-weekly home treatments.

Special side effect to using the advanced sugaring treatment as an exfoliation option is loss of hair! All kidding aside (albeit true), this technique is positively result oriented. Bottom line, with or without hair, you and your clients will notice the skin change from dry textures and sallow colors to soft, silky, and healthy looking skin…naturally!

*Originally published in the July, 2006 issue of Dermascope