Exfoliation is the process of purposefully removing the top layer of dead skin cells and other toxins from your skin. It occurs naturally, as humans are always shedding dead skin cells to make way for new cells. Cells typically regenerate every 30 days. Exfoliation helps remove the excess cells that are not removed naturally. It improves the general condition of your skin. As most people shave on a regular basis, it makes sense to incorporate exfoliation into your routine.
Before shaving, it is a good idea to prep the area by thoroughly washing and cleaning. The skin should ideally be wet before applying shaving cream. Use warm water when washing, as it helps open the pores, which in turn helps prevent ingrown hairs while providing for a closer shave. Use a basic wash cloth for this process. Rub it in a circular motion over the skin.
Shaving is, in and of itself, an act of exfoliation. As the razor drags across the top layer of the skin, it also lifts up dead skin cells. When shaving, drag the razor in the direction the hair grows. While some people prefer to run the razor in the direction opposite of hair growth, shaving in growth direction helps to prevent nicks, cuts and ingrown hairs. Always use a sharp razor.
The skin may be sensitive after shaving, requiring a gentle touch for exfoliation. Exfoliation at this time may consist of merely drying the area with a dry towel, rubbing and patting the newly-shaved area gently. If a person exfoliates before shaving, there is no real need to seriously exfoliate directly after shaving, but the area should be thoroughly dried with a towel. Applying lotion, while not part of the exfoliation process, soothes the skin and prevent razor burn.
Exfoliation should be part of a daily skin care routine. Dry brushing is an excellent way to exfoliate the skin while stimulating blood flow. Use a dry brush to brush the skin in a circular, sweeping motion, beginning with your feet and working your way up to your heart. This process is done before you take your daily shower. Drug stores and specialty beauty stores sell designated dry brushes, but this process is also possible with a regular hair brush or a dry wash cloth. Face scrubs and masks are available for gentle exfoliation of the facial area. A more drastic method of exfoliation is a chemical peel, which can be performed by a dermatologist.
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Nicole Devlin began her professional writing career in 2002 and currently serves as news editor for a daily newspaper, building on her previous experience as a features and government reporter. Devlin also has a background in public relations and marketing. She graduated with a bachelor's degree in communications in 2007, with a focus in broadcast journalism.