How to Exfoliate at Home the Right Way


Hello, this is Jiyoung Yoon. Nice to meet you all. Today’s topic is a very important one that all women should be informed about. I’ll teach you how to exfoliate properly and remove the dead skin that makes your skin look dry; safely, and effectively.

Our skin has two different layers; the epidermis, and the dermis. At the basal cell layer, the boundary between the two skin cells begins to differentiate and gradually rise to the surface. Our epidermis comprises the basal layer, the stratum basale, the stratum spinosum, stratum granulosum, stratum lucidum, and the stratum corneum. The cells of the basal layer rise above the stratum corneum as we age and form the stratum corneum, and then fall off.

The full cycle of skin formation is about 28 days. As you age or have skin diseases that cause hyper-keratinization (acne, eczema, etc.), the skin formation cycle takes significantly longer and tends to have more dead skin cells on the surface. The stratum corneum is what we call the ‘skin barrier.’

When it comes to dead skin, it may not be thought of as a good thing; however, try to think about it as your skin’s barrier. Dead skin = skin barrier. So, if you exfoliate your skin too often or too much, you will eventually start to remove your skin barrier.

There are two ways to remove dead skin cells, physical exfoliants and chemical exfoliants. Physical exfoliants include toner pads, peels, scrubs, facial sponges/brushes, etc. Facial masks that remove the outer layer of the skin or products that cause abrasion on the skin are also considered physical exfoliants. Chemical exfoliants include products containing AHA, BHA, PHA, and more.

There are pros and cons to each. I personally think the frequency of exfoliation is more important than the products you choose. As I said before, dead skin = skin barrier. That is why we must have the necessary amount of dead skin cells to protect our skin. Smooth skin, like a peeled egg, may look good at first glance, but since it is lacking the skin barrier it is vulnerable to external contaminations at any time.

I recommend exfoliating about once a week at the most and once a month if you don’t have that much dead skin. Interestingly, healthy skin does not require exfoliation because the rate at which the dead skin cells are exfoliated and the rate at which new skin cells are differentiated from the basal layer are the same.

Lastly, the white flaky skin is the raw keratin created in a rush from the skin as a barrier because the old dead skin was removed faster than it should be in the regular cycle. In other words, when the skin barrier is removed, the skin recognizes it as an emergency on its own, and it accelerates to create dead skin faster than the normal skin cycle.

Dead skin cells are not something to get rid of. They are meant to be there to protect our skin. What is more important is to moisturize the skin to help the skin restore its normal repair cycle.