Ask Kitty Magoo: Gentle Exfoliation

Dear Kitty,

Is it possible to exfoliate my face gently? Most scrubs and peels are too harsh for my skin.

Sensitive in Seneca

Dear Sensitive,

When done correctly, exfoliation, or the removal of dead cells from the outermost epidermal layer, helps keep pores clear and skin looking fresh and radiant. Unfortunately, many exfoliating products actually do more harm than good.

Exfoliation can be done two ways: mechanically, with a scrub that buffs away dead skin cells, or chemically, with a peel or mask that dissolves them. The problem with many scrubs is that they rely on sharp material like walnut shells, which cause tiny little tears in your skin, to exfoliate. Ouch!

Chemical exfoliation may be even more damaging to sensitive skin, as the acids commonly used in peels and masks (alpha hydroxy, beta hydroxy, glycolic, etc.) can cause burning and redness, not to mention thinning of the epidermis over time.

According to aesthetician Evan Healy, founder of the Evan Healy line of holistic skin care products, it is possible to effectively exfoliate without the use of rough scrubs or acid-based peels. She recommends natural clay, a “universally skin-friendly material” that “acts to effectively draw impurities out of tiny dermal pores and absorb excess oil and dead cells” without disrupting the skin’s protective layer. Healy adds that clay can also “refine skin texture, minimizing the appearance of large pores.” Bonus!

The Evan Healy line features two wonderful clay masks, and you can also make your own. Just mix a teaspoon of dry clay (sold by the ounce at Community Pharmacy) with enough of any liquid (water, hydrosol, milk, etc.) to form a paste. Apply the mixture to your face using your fingers or a brush. Relax for ten minutes or so, then rinse. Smooth! You can also experiment with adding other ingredients, like essential oils or honey, to your mask. The gentle exfoliation possibilities are endless and your skin will thank you!


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