The Science of Taking It Off


Most of us already know about the importance and general benefits of exfoliation, including obtaining a softer, smoother, less aged appearance. But how much do you really know about what is going on beneath the top layers of the skin? Let’s take a look at some of the different ways exfoliation can be part of your life, and what you should be aware of when you “take it off.”

The history of exfoliation goes back thousands of years to the times of the pharaohs when abrasive masks, minerals and alabaster particles were used. Since then, an innumerable variety of substances have been used to peel, exfoliate, and rejuvenate the skin. These include the use of acids, poultices of minerals and plants and direct irritants such as fire and sand-paper like materials.

Exfoliation (desquamation) occurs naturally. Desquamation is the shedding of the outer layers of the skin. For example, after the rash of measles fades, there is desquamation. The word comes from the Latin, “desquamare”, meaning to scrape the scales off a fish!

As we age, the glue–like intercellular cement holding the cells together becomes thicker. This results in a build up in the layers of skin cells. The skins sloughing process becomes more difficult to accomplish and the skin has a thicker, less-toned appearance. This process can be influenced by the environment, hormones (estrogens, androgens, and epidermal growth factor), and vitamin deficiencies (A and D). All these factors impact the desquamation process, so the importance of skin exfoliation is clear. By eliminating the build up of dead and damaged skin cells. the regeneration of new skin cells is stimulated, resulting in an improved appearance, tone, and feel of the skin.

The two methods of exfoliation are: chemical, and physical. Chemical exfoliation can vary in degree of abrasion and cost, from mild toners all the way up to dermatological peels that could cost thousands of dollars. Chemical exfoliation employs agents such as enzymes (i.e. papain, bromelain, and protease enzymes from bacillus microbes) and alpha hydroxy acids (AHA; i.e. lactic acid, glycolic acids, malic acids), beta hydroxy acids (BHA; i.e. salicylic acid) and Retinol (i.e. Vitamin A). While the exact mechanism of action is still being argued, some believe that AHA’s do not exfoliate in the same conventional way that mechanical exfoliants or BHA’s do. It is thought that alpha hydroxy acids primarily affect the skin while normalizing cell turn over in the epidermis; this would stimulate the formation of healthy skin, which includes sloughing, decreased formation of dry scales on the skin’s surface and stimulation of the cell cycle.

In recent years, retinol (vitamin A) has been included in exfoliation formulas because the skin converts retinol to retinoic acid, a potent skin exfoliation and anti-aging agent. When used on a daily basis, studies show that retinol improves the signs of photo-aging as well as normal chronological aging. One study showed that retinol mimicked the activity of retinoic acid by stimulating the thickening of the epidermis without the irritation sometimes seen with the use of retinoic acid. Other studies also showed that retinol slowed down the degradation of collagen in the skin with sun exposure, by inhibiting the action of collagenase, the enzyme responsible for this degradation.

Mechanical or physical exfoliation utilizes either a tool (i.e. a brush, sponge) or a substance usually found in facial and body scrubs. Micodermabrasion is the most forceful of the mechanical methods. It loosens and reduces the outer layer of cells when friction and abrasion is applied. The outcome varies depending on the amount of friction applied and the abrasive used. It is important to note that excessive abrasion can result in skin irritation. Therefore the International Dermal Institute does not recommend the use of crushed fruit pits, shells, or similar substrates. (i.e. salt, sugars, corncob meal, rice bran, oatmeal).

Whether you choose a mechanical or chemical means of exfoliation, each can be of benefit and provide enhancement for your skin. Consistent exfoliation prevents clogged pores, acne, ingrown hairs, and certain types of infection. It can also prevent scarring blemishes and help to reduce the appearance of existing scars. Exfoliation can also increase circulation and help to make the other steps in your facial regimen (i.e. toners, cleansers, and moisturizers) more effective by unblocking the pores for better absorption. It is worth the time to find the right exfoliation agent for your specific skin type and needs. And of course, always use caution and heed the warnings associated with the exfoliation process of your choice and do not over exfoliate.

After your exfoliation and toning, the next critical step in keeping your skin looking its best is, of course, moisturizing. You don’t necessarily need to use a different cream for your face and neck. However, there are exceptions. You may use a moisturizer on your face geared to oily skin, or you may use a very light, mild lotion. Just make sure what ever you use gives your neck the moisture it needs! Sometimes, neck cremes include tightening agents to reduce the appearence of sagging and wrinkles. We tend to focus on our face, but in fact, your neck and hands are where the visible signs of aging love to hang out and linger.

If you use a Retin-A product on your face you should use a different moisturizer for your neck. No mater what products you use – facial cleansers, toners and moisturizers- be sure to use quality products like Duplicell P199, Duplicell F199, Duplicell Facial Tonic Balancing Toner and Duplicell P199 Neck & Décolleté Firming Therapy. Find what works for you and stick with it.


The Duplicell line of products is a safe and effective topical intervention that can reduce the clinical and histological effects of photo-aging and chronological aging. At Duplicell, we are committed to using the highest quality ingredients and the latest cutting-edge technology to bring you the best anti-wrinkle products ever produced. Click here to see the full Duplicell line, including money saving Beauty Kits, and try Duplicell for yourself.

The Duplicell Team

We hope you have enjoyed this weeks post and thanks for reading. Till next time.

Note:The information provided here, and on is informational in nature and is not intended as a substitute for medical advice.