As we age, our skin becomes less efficient at shedding old skin cells, causing them to build up and give the appearance of a dull and lacklustre complexion. Gentle and light exfoliation can help to clear away some of this build up to reveal the more radiant skin beneath, but exfoliation can also cause skincare problems – especially if it is done too vigorously or using abrasive ingredients that are too harsh on the skin.
In 2016, two women in the US filed a $5million class-action lawsuit against Unilever (parent company of brand St. Ives) over its Apricot Scrub, which contains remnants of walnut shells designed to exfoliate the skin(1). The claimants stated that the scrub caused irritation and inflammation, as the exfoliating particles could tear the skin and lead to infection. I have to say that the name ‘scrub’ doesn’t help – encouraging men and women to vigorously rub these products into the delicate skin of the face in the name of beauty and anti-ageing. That’s not to say that a little gentle exfoliation, a couple of times a week, isn’t beneficial for your skin – we just need to carry out this manual exfoliation gently and sensitively, applying dermatologist approved products lightly to the skin, and avoiding the delicate eye area. Alternatively, if you are concerned about exfoliating yourself, speak to an Aesthetic Nurse or Cosmetic Doctor about clinical alternatives that can be carried out by an experienced and qualified medical professional (like Chemical Peels, Microdermabrasion, Hydrafacial etc.) to manually exfoliate the skin safely and effectively.
Facial Scrubs aren’t the only skincare product that can actually do more harm than good! Those charcoal ‘peel off’ masks that were all the rage last year can also damage your skin. If you saw any of the videos doing the rounds on Facebook and YouTube of people removing these masks, you’ll have noticed one thing – the shrieks of pain! In my opinion, a home skincare treatment shouldn’t be a painful experience, and is a sign that these people weren’t just lifting dirt and grime from their pores, but the whole top layer of skin cells and the tiny hairs that protect the skin. In addition, these peel-off masks strip the skin of the essential oils that our skin needs to stay healthy and protect against external pollutants and infections, leaving you open to irritated and inflamed skin.
When it comes to looking after your skin and trying to slow down the visible symptoms of ageing, the key is to apply appropriate skincare products gently! If you aren’t sure what skincare products you should be using, I recommend seeking advice from aesthetic practitioners in a medically-led clinic who would be happy to help you find the most appropriate skincare products for your own unique skin.