Exfoliation is a technique where the layer of mostly dead epidermal cells on the outer surface of the skin is removed to expose fresher mostly living cells. Potential benefits of exfoliation include fresher, brighter looking skin, better penetration of active ingredients of skin care products and, for people with excessively oily skin, a varying degree of reduction in oil secretion.
Routine exfoliation should not be confused with deep chemical peels, laser peels and other semi-invasive wrinkle treatments methods. The idea of such methods is not to strip the dead cells from the epidermis (as routine exfoliation does) but to create controlled trauma to the dermis, the deeper layer responsible for structural integrity of the skin. The subsequent wound-healing response and skin remodeling help to wipe out some of the wrinkles. Procedures like deep chemical peels are aggressive treatments to be done infrequently by trained professionals. Their mechanism of action is different -- they are not simply intense versions of routine exfoliation.
If you decided that exfoliation should be a regular element of your skin care routine, how often should you do it? Except for people with extremely oily skin, daily exfoliation is not a good idea. You goal is to remove the dead cells from the skin surface. It takes at least a few days for a sizeable amount of dead cells to accumulate. If you exfoliate more often than that, you may be removing too many living cell, increasing the chance of irritation and skin damage.
For most people who decide to exfoliate, once or twice a week is sufficient. You should determine optimal frequency based on your skin type, strength of the exfoliates you use, application technique and other factors. If you develop irritation, increased sensitivity or dryness, you are probably exfoliating too much.
Be prudent: listen to your skin, use common sense and inform yourself before trying anything new.
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