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Think! Before you peel. A Tale of Skin in Crisis

I remember a time when exfoliating your skin seemed to be the answer in our industry to good skin. It seemed to be the answer for everything plaguing skin, whether it was acne, pigmentation or age management. Unfortunately, this concept became not only abused within the professional realm, but it also made its way into the well intentioned but often ill-informed hands of consumers. A scroll on Amazon or a walk through Sephora now has the average person assaulted by alpha hydroxy acids and has tools previously exclusive to the professional within grasp for the average person to use and abuse at home. From handheld microdermabrasion to acids in every step of their regimen, it is now common to see clients with raw, sensitized and inflamed skin thanks to this unrestricted access, and they usually don't connect their over exfoliation to their compromised skin.


There is a very big misconception when it come to skin care that digging deep enough and peeling away enough layers will lead to beautiful radiant skin underneath. Unfortunately, for the skin of those who subscribe to this belief, this is simply not the way it works. While this abuse can sometimes lead to appealing results, which is what keeps many coming back to it, looks can be conceiving, and the results are temporary at best. What occurs on the outside of the skin does not always reflect what is taking place at a cellular level. In short, these results are always at the expense of long term skin health. When the resilience of youthful skin runs out, more mature skin then comes limping and crawling into my treatment room begging for nourishment and support.


The barrier of the skin is fundamentally the most important aspect of skin health. Made up of corneocytes exfoliation seeks to remove and a ratio of lipids creating a waterproof structure, this barrier functions to both retain necessary hydration and defend against pathogens and external aggressors. Basically, this skin's ability to retain water after being over exfoliated is severely compromised. Water dependent enzymes are responsible for natural, healthy shedding of cells, so if the corneocytes found in the top layer of skin are treated aggressively and skin's ability to retain hydration is disrupted, then these enzymes are unable to properly function. In an attempt to expedite cellular turnover, it can actually become increasingly sluggish due to a lack of free water within the skin itself.

Furthermore, skin has a very elaborate defense system and compromising the skin barrier exposes this system leading to inflammatory responses which are particularly elevated as aging occurs. While at first glance inflammation can appear to be beneficial as the resulting edema (swelling) can plump out skin, the subclinical complications surrounding inflammation are detrimental to the overall health and desired aesthetic end goals. This is why I chose to use DMK as my primary skincare line at MySkin Paramedical Face & Body Skin. DMK's concept is REMOVE, REBUILD, PROTECT and MAINTAIN. Therefore, when we remove the skin through treatments, we are always rebuilding and supporting the system and the baby cell as it makes its journey through the many layers of skin to the top layer, and making sure we have enough water in the skin before we do any advanced peels through supplements and products.

Exfoliation can certainly be an important step in caring for skin as it can remove accumulated skin cells when necessary--we call this redundant cuticle. More necessary than removing these cells, however, is questioning the origin and cause of the accumulation. Before reaching for a peel, daily exfoliants, or tools of any type, it is crucial to ensure sustainable hydration by building a healthy foundation with a focus on hydration and nutrients required for skin to thrive. Normalizing desquamation (the skin's natural exfoliation process) through support rather than forcing aggressive exfoliation will often reduce the need or desire to continuously exfoliate while yielding more sustainably healthy skin.

Elle Powell

My Skin Paramedical Face & Body Clinic

January 2023

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