Why You Should Stop Exfoliating Your Skin

Way back in aesthetics school, I was taught that exfoliating your skin is a vital step of a healthy skin care routine, as well as a vital step in any professional facial treatment. We were told that the only time we shouldn’t exfoliate was if someone has rosacea, and even then, there are “gentle” exfoliating acids for that.

The beauty industry suppresses symptoms, forces the skin to act in unnatural ways, and doesn’t think about the long-term damage being done to the skin’s natural functions… or maybe the beauty industry does know that. Maybe they want the skin to have long-term damage so that we all keep coming back, and that’s why they teach us, aestheticians included, that we need to exfoliate and use harsh chemicals and peels on this delicate organ. I mean very few of us ever really look into the scientific part of this. We’re just told to exfoliate, so we exfoliate. I did it myself for years.

  • We’re taught that in order to have smooth skin, we must exfoliate.
  • We’re taught that our skin is completely incapable of sloughing away its own dead skin cells, so we have to take on that job ourselves.
  • We’re taught exfoliation is necessary for clearing acne and for “anti-aging”.

And for a long time, I intuitively felt that this was wrong, so I stopped exfoliating my own skin. I have been one of the rare aestheticians who chose to dive deep into the biological and scientific side of the skin’s natural processes. I wanted to learn how it functions as an organ, rather than focusing solely on erasing all of its external flaws through suppression.

And guess what?

All of what we have been taught about exfoliation is false information, and I am so disappointed that I was taught otherwise and that it took me so many years to truly start understanding how the skin really functions! If you’ve been a long-term client of mine, I apologize if I ever told you differently before.

The Top Layer of Dead Skin Cells

Our skin cells have a 28 day life cycle. When they are produced, they start at the bottom and begin moving their way up to the surface of the skin (what we see).

As the cells get closer to the surface, they die, and when THEY are ready, they naturally slough off the skin (aka the skin exfoliates itself). In fact, we lose about 30,000-40,000 skin cells every day, which I find mind-blowing.

The top layer of dead cells is our skin’s strongest layer of defence and is vital for our skin’s health. These cells are the most mature of all of our skin’s cells. They’ve been around the longest and have the highest amount of instinctive wisdom. They provide protection for all the cells beneath it, not just in the skin, but they provide protection for all of the cells in the entire body.

Yet within the beauty industry, and even in school as aestheticians, we are taught to dislike this layer and remove it. We’re taught that it goes against everything beauty stands for to keep this layer of dead skin cells upon us. We are led to believe that our body’s largest organ can’t function on its own, so it’s up to us to remove this layer for it.

But here’s the thing…

  • Do you mistrust your heart to beat for you?
  • Do you mistrust your lungs to breathe in air?
  • Do you mistrust your kidneys to properly filter waste and remove excess fluid?

Of course not… You know that your body works to take care of you, right?

Do you see my point?

We need to fully trust every single processes that both the body and the skin go through. Our skin is the body’s largest organ. It knows exactly what to do to function properly, just like any other organ in the human body. It knows how to take care of us, and it works way harder to protect us than anyone can truly even comprehend. It responds to our environment and it adapts to protect us. Protecting us is one of its main functions.

So, Why Should You Stop Exfoliating Your Skin?

It Can Worsen Skin Conditions, Like Acne and Hyperpigmentation

When we understand inflammatory skin conditions from the perspective of the Five Biological Laws of Germanic Healing Knowledge, we understand that the biological root cause ofacne, hyperpigmentation and even melanoma, is an attack conflict or a soiled conflict (either figurative or literal).

When we exfoliate the skin with abrasive scrubs and harsh chemical peels, the skin may very well perceive this as an attack. In this case, the skin will start proliferating additional skin cells in order to protect itself from further attacks. It is this skin cell proliferation that leads to acne breakouts, hyperpigmentation and melanoma, so when you exfoliate your skin to help heal acne or to reduce hyperpigmentations, you’re not healing the skin at all, you’re actually perpetuating the problem.

To Keep Your Skin Hydrated

The top layer of dead skin cells keeps moisture inside of the skin to keep it hydrated. A small, but very important part of its purpose is to prevent water from evaporating away from the body into the air.

Within the top layer of skin is our skin’s protective barrier. This waterproof layer is made up of our skin’s essential fats (lipids), which surround the dead skin cells. These lipids are made when the skin cells are alive, but as these cells move to the surface of the skin and die, these lipids come out of the cells and form around the cells, creating a strong, defensive, water-resistant protective barrier on the skin. It is this lipid barrier and dead skin cell combination that prevents water from evaporating from the skin and even from within the body.

When we remove this layer of the skin through exfoliation (and I mean any kind of exfoliation – scrubs, acids, peels, enzymes, etc.), we will be left with dehydrated skin, creating our skin to become very dependent on moisturizers and creams in order to feel “normal”. Over my career, I can tell you that about 99% of the population has dehydrated skin, and as I learn more and more about the internal side of how the skin functions, I have come to understand why.

While this top layer of dead skin cells is exposed to air and these cells do not actually hold water themselves, they do contain Natural Moisturizing Factors, which is the skin’s own natural mixture of humectants. Humectants are substances that draw water to themselves from the air. These substances, produced within the skin, are what enables the skin to stay hydrated on its own, so long as we don’t disrupt this natural processes.

If you want hydrated, supple, glowing skin, it’s best that you stop exfoliating and allow your skin stay hydrated.

To Protect Us from the Sun’s Age-Accelerating Rays

While the stories that we’re told around the sun have dramatically changed since the sunscreen industry came about, and the sun is no where near as harmful as we are led to believe, there is no doubt that the sun’s rays can cause us to age more quickly, especially when we’re allowing the skin to get burnt.

The layer of dead skin cells, that are removed when we exfoliate, is there to protect our living, less mature skin cells from the sun’s age-accelerating rays.

Have you ever wondered why we’re told to stay out of the sun after exfoliation? That’s because you have just removed the very layer of skin that is formed to protect you from the external environment, including the sun’s UVB rays. Go outside without that layer of skin, and you’ll be far more susceptible to sunburns, and premature aging.

To Allow the Skin to Function on its Own

My point in all of this is that the top layer of dead cells that we are all taught to dislike are there for a very important reason, and when your skin is ready (your skin, not you), your skin will slough them away on its own. We need to trust our skin to take care of us. After all, how did people survive years ago before the beauty industry created all of these products? Because I can assure you that there were a whole lot less skin conditions back then, and there’s no coincidence there.

What Can You Do Instead of Exfoliating?

Massage! Massage! Massage!! You can use either your hands or facial cups to massage and naturally stimulate your skin. Remember that your skin is fully capable of exfoliating itself. Daily Massage is the best way to support this process.

After learning more about this, I completely stopped exfoliating my own skin. I researched the science and tested it on myself first. I mean, the research and science I have done shouldn’t require my own testing… but I won’t share my findings with you until I’ve tested it myself and see the visual proof to back my research up. After two years of no exfoliation whatsoever, Daily Self Massageand only using my daily skin care routine, my skin was (and still is) healthiest it’s been since I became an aesthetician.

Why?

Because I stopped stripping my skin. I stopped trying to force it to act the way I wanted it to, and instead started supporting my very wise and intelligent organ to function on its own.

The Adjustment Phase

If you have been exfoliating your skin, allow time for your skin to adjust. It WILL, without a doubt, hold on tightly to dead skin cells for awhile. It’s used to them being sloughed away pre-maturely, meaning the skin is also used to being in survival mode, so it will be working hard to protect itself. Once you stop exfoliating, the skin will re-learn that it no longer has to be in survival mode. Your skin might begin to look dull before it looks better, but daily massage will help with this natural process.

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About Rachel Devine

Hi! I'm Rachel Devine, a Holistic Practitioner and the founder of Her Soul Intention. I help you understand and resolve your skin and health symptoms, so you can let go of the fear and confusion surrounding your symptoms, without the need for any elimination diets or strict protocols. My full approach to health and wellness is based on the Five Biological Laws of Germanic Healing Knowledge.