You’ve heard me say many times that exfoliation is the single most important therapeutic treatment you can do for your skin. But there are misconceptions and myths regarding exfoliation which need to be clarified... such as this question from a viewer...
“I know that chemical exfoliants help your skin by dissolving the dead skin cells on the surface and letting a fresh layer of skin appear. But I read that this process is similar to forming a callus. Thus, as the chemical exfoliant dissolves the dead skin cells, a fresh layer of skin would grow and becomes thicker every time. So, a person may end up with very thick skin.” The viewer then added, “This sounds slightly ridiculous to me. Is this true?”
Good reality testing! Yes, it is ridiculous that exfoliation would do that.
Let’s look at the 4 layers of your epidermis, the upper layer of your skin...
This is the upper dead layer, and these are the 3 lower live layers.
Yes, exfoliation certainly dissolves the dead cells on your skin’s surface, but only these dead layers.
And these dead layers are part of the reason your skin turns blotchy, matt, and tired looking, and by removing this layer with an exfoliant, you can then make your skin bright, radiant and lustrous. Removing those dead cells just causes the skin to make more new LIVE cells and makes these lower 3 live layers of the epidermis thicker. That helps take away fine lines and makes the skin more lustrous and slightly translucent, all adding to desirable skin brightness.
So all of the effects of exfoliation improve the appearance of your skin.
And yes, callous formation also involves thickening of the skin… but a very different thickening... it's mostly this dead layer that’s thickened in a callous… the same layer that chemical exfoliants like glycolic remove… and that thickening is the body’s way of trying to protect itself by strengthening its “protective armor”… its dead layer… to help protect itself from injury, from whatever is doing the rubbing.
So the next time you use your glycolic exfoliant... smile, knowing it’s making your skin more beautiful, healthier and younger looking.