Exfoliation occurs when dead, dry cells are removed from the skin's top layer. The body normally exfoliates naturally, exposing new cells on the surface of the skin, but as a person gets older, the natural process slows down. This will create a surplus of dead skin cells that block pores and make the skin look dull. In order to keep the skin looking bright and youthful, many people elect to exfoliate their skin at home or go to the salon for professional treatments.
Basic exfoliation at home can be done with a pumice stone, a loofah sponge, a cleanser, and a facial exfoliant. There are a variety of products available for exfoliation, and the most popular among them contain alpha or beta hydroxy acids. Both of these acids have their benefits, although betas are better able to penetrate pores and they are more lipid-soluble. Products that contain beta hydroxy acids are a better option for those with oily skin or who are prone to the formation of acne. My friend and fashion blogger Steffi Vertriest often tells her readers to make sure they know what they're putting on their skin, simplifying my feelings with the line: "if you can't pronounce it, don't put it on your skin!".
There are some commercially-available organic exfoliators, but you can easily make your own exfoliant at home with ground-up nut shells, sugar, oatmeal or cornmeal. Other ingredients can include apple cider vinegar, honey, or fresh fruit. If you make your own exfoliating product, you can customize the aroma with essential oils or herbs.
Once you have all the supplies you need, you can begin. Use the loofah to scrub your skin gently, then scrub the rough skin on your feet with the pumice. Apply the exfoliating cream to the loofah and scrub gently in circular motions. When exfoliating your face, be sure to use face-specific products and be careful around your mouth and nose. Rinse the skin well, pat dry and apply lotion.
While there are enormous advantages to exfoliation, it is not for everyone. The frequency with which you should exfoliate depends on your skin type; exfoliating too often can strip your skin's natural oils and dry it out. Those with dry or sensitive skin should be especially careful because excessive exfoliation can irritate the area.