Exfoliation is a key step in many beauty routines, thanks to the impressive collection of benefits it results in, but can it also help to lighten your skin? It’s time for us to take a look at the science and see if exfoliation really can lighten your skin.
What is exfoliation?
Firstly, it’s essential that we have good understanding about what exfoliation is, before we start to think about any of the effects it may have. You may have heard of the two terms chemical and physical exfoliation before, and these are the two different types of exfoliation which can take place on your skin.
Chemical exfoliation is the use of acids and other liquid ingredients to exfoliate the skin, whereas physical exfoliation is the use of physical particles, such as those in a body scrub, to do this manually. Both types achieve the same result, but some people prefer one method to another.
When you’re exfoliating the skin, what you’re really doing is removing the top layer of skin from your body, which isn’t as scary as it seems. Naturally, our bodies are constantly regenerating, and our skin is an example of this, replacing itself all the time. When new skin cells are made, the layer they’ve replaced is left on the surface of the skin, and the skin here is often much duller and even flaky.
However, when you exfoliate your skin, the product loosens the bonds holding the upper layer of skin onto the rest of the epidermis, and this loss of dead skin cells is what brings all the benefits that come with exfoliation.
Does exfoliation lighten skin?
Now that we understand that exfoliation is essentially the removal of old, dead cells from the surface of the skin, it’s time to find out whether or not it can lighten skin. You may already be aware that there are many benefits and advantages of using an exfoliant in your routine, but what about its ability to lighten skin? Let’s find out.
Although lightening skin generally isn’t the typical reason for scrubbing or using a chemical exfoliant, the truth is that yes, it can lighten skin, and there’s plenty of evidence and reason to support this.
One way that exfoliation can lighten your skin is by removing any pigmentation and scarring on the top layer of your skin and, after a while, the repeated use of your exfoliants can result in completely clearing any hyperpigmentation, scarring or similar skin concerns.
Another way exfoliation can lighten your skin is if you’ve gotten a suntan. As you may know, your suntan triggers melanocytes (small structures beneath the skin) to produce melanin, which is the pigment you can see in your tanned skin as it is present in its upper layers.
After a while, these tanned skin cells will naturally disappear, as they’re replaced with cells of your normal skin tone, however by exfoliating them off you can lighten your skin faster and speed up this process.
So, in short, yes, exfoliation can be responsible for lightening your skin, both by removing any abnormal or irregular pigmentation in your skin, as well as speeding up the process of losing a suntan. Of course, if your skin has been self-tanned or spray tanned, a scrub will remove this colouring, and that will lighten the appearance of your skin, too.
Also read: Does Exfoliating Help Dry Skin? (Explained)
What are the other benefits of exfoliation?
As you can see, exfoliation can lighten your skin, but that’s not the only effect you’ll experience from the process. We already mentioned earlier that there are a variety of other benefits that come with this, and it’s time to see what else you can get out of your skin!
One of the first benefits is a brighter looking complexion, as the removal of dead skin cells will reveal, fresh, young cells that have a glowier, more lit-from-within appearance like no other. This is often very confidence-boosting for many people, and you may even decide that you no longer need to wear any face makeup, as a natural dewy base is all you need.
Another benefit is an improvement in any acne you may already experience. If you’re an acne sufferer, you’ll probably be relieved to hear that exfoliation can, in fact, help to clear your acne, and reduce its appearance as more oils are removed from your skin and old cells are removed. Along with this, you’ll also see your pores much less clogged, reducing the number and appearance of blackheads on your face.
When it comes to your body, you can expect to see much smoother, silkier skin that is well prepared for anything such as shaving, waxing or apply fake tan. It can also help with skin concerns such as ingrown hairs and large pores.
While these aren’t the only advantages that you’ll experience, they are some of the main ones, and they’re surely enough to convince you of the wonderful powers of this technique.
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Is baking soda good for exfoliating and lightening skin?
If you’re looking for a solution to lighten your skin whilst still avoiding using any potentially dangerous bleaching products, you may have heard of the use of baking soda before. This is a product that has been advertised and encouraged throughout the media, but does it really work?
The truth is that baking soda doesn’t have any direct skin whitening effects, but it can be useful for exfoliating your skin. In other words, it’s not proven to specifically make your skin whiter alone, but this could be a result of exfoliation.
So yes, baking soda is good for exfoliating your skin, and it can help to provide you with a fresher, brighter complexion, but may not necessarily whiten your skin any more than another exfoliating product.
If you’re looking to scrub away the dullness of your skin, then exfoliation is for you. Although you may not be able to get your skin any lighter than it naturally is, it’s certainly a method for removing pigmentation.