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Exfoliate Away!

We hear more about men exfoliating now a days than ever before.  Not because it's something new, but because it's something new for men to include in their skincare regimen.  Like with so many other things, it's about time men got society's okay to optimize their skin quality and appearance the way women have been doing for centuries... so, move over, ladies, and pass the jar of exfoliant!

Exfoliation is the action of removing old, dead skin cells by using an exfoliating product.  There are two general categories of exfoliants: chemical and mechanical.  Regardless of the type, they cause skin to slough off, which unclogs pores, reduces lines and wrinkles, and generally exposes new, radiant skin.  Besides delivering the glow of healthy, youthful skin, exfoliating promotes the absorption of moisturizers.  It maximizes their effectiveness by eliminating the top layer of old, dead skin that acts like a barrier by preventing creams and lotions from being thoroughly absorbed and reaching underlying skin.  Exfoliation isn't just for the face, but chests, hands, feet, neck, knees, backs... anywhere you want soft, smooth skin.

Not all exfoliants are the same.  There are countless exfoliating products on the market, which offer a variety of ingredients.  Let's take a look at the different kinds of exfoliants and their suggested use, in order to eliminate some of the guesswork and assure you choose the best one for your needs.

  1. Mechanical exfoliants are any type of exfoliant that requires rubbing or scrubbing the product on the skin.  These products have tiny abrasive particles incorporated into their ingredients that when rubbed on the skin, literally act like gritty sandpaper and remove the dead skin cells.  There are various types of materials used: ground fruit pits, salt or sugar crystals, pumice, crushed almonds, walnuts, grape seeds, poppy seeds and oatmeal, polyethylene beads, and even baking soda. The coarseness varies depending on the product, which makes some more suitable for sensitive face and neck skin, and others preferred for tougher skin that's on feet, knees, etc.  In my experience, polyethylene beads and baking soda are the finest and most gentle materials.  Mechanical techniques also include the use of abrasive items like loofas, brushes, sponges, and rough wash cloths that abrade the skin and eliminate dead skin cells.
  1. Chemical exfoliants are applied to the skin and require no mechanical rubbing action.  They work by dissolving either the "glue" that holds the skin cells together and in place, or by actually dissolving the skin cells.  Alpha hydroxy acids (AHA), are the most widely used chemicals for exfoliation, with glycolic and lactic being the most common.  These acids are either naturally derived from fruit or are synthetic (manmade).
  1. Microdermabrasion is another popular exfoliation procedure that sandblasts the dead skin with very fine crystals.  These crystals can be made of aluminum oxide, diamond dust, or other hard material.  This procedure is typically done by an aesthetician at a salon, or by a dermatologist (skin doctor).  There are several do-it-yourself-at-home kits available, but they tend not to be as effective as professional treatments, and require more treatments to get similar results because they aren't as aggressive.  Kits can be found online and at pharmacies and department stores.


There are other types of products that contain both chemical and mechanical exfoliants.  Some products are just for exfoliating, but others combine exfoliation with cleansers, moisturizers, soaps, body washes, peels, masks, anti-aging and acne products.  Check the store shelves and see what's available.

Who should use which type?  Sensitive skin, small pore skin, and acne prone skin does best with chemical exfoliating, but can possibly tolerate mechanical brands provided they're gentle products.  Mechanical exfoliants, as well as chemical ones, are great for guys with normal or oily skin and/or large pores.  For those who can use both types, NEVER use them at the same time because they will be too irritating, so alternate their use.

There's controversy as to how often we should exfoliate.  Some professionals say daily, while others say anywhere from twice a week to once a month.  The body naturally sheds the top layer of dead skin every 30 to 35 days.  However, due to environmental factors and aging, cell activity is compromised and the turnover is not as frequent; so exfoliation helps the shedding process along.  My suggestion is to base it on your skin type and how your skin reacts.  Follow the product's directions and discontinue use, or cut down on frequency, at the first sign of irritation.  Often, with mechanical exfoliating, it's not the product that causes irritation, but the intensity and duration of the scrubbing.  Be gentle and don't rub too hard.  Trying to resurface your skin all at once is bound to cause irritation, redness, and pain.  Speaking of which, I don't recommend exfoliating the same day as an important occasion, such as a date or job interview.  A day or two ahead of time should suffice.

There's an entire industry awaiting to make your skin look its best.  If you haven't ever exfoliated, you'll be pleasantly surprised at how smooth your skin will feel after just one treatment.  Rough, dry, cracked skin is no longer expected or acceptable on a man's body.  Maximize your image by boasting healthy, youthful skin that starts with exfoliation!

by Aaron Marino

Past Topics

New Topics Added Weekly!
How to Whiten Teeth at Home | Bright White -
July 16, 2012
Bright White Aaron Marino of alpha m. recommends whitening your teeth with a bleaching solution every 4 -5 months with molds. How straight your teeth is not as important as how white your teeth are. Aaron ordered a set of molds online which are like mouth-guards ( with bleaching solution. You could also go to a sporting goods store for a mouth-guard, but the trays may be bRead More»
Common Nail Problems -
July 12, 2012
Typically, we don't give our finger and toe nails much thought unless there's an obvious problem or they need to be trimmed.  We tend to take them for granted, not realizing their purpose and ability to reveal information about our health.  I've been asked by several members what certain things like white spots on nails mean, and having had them myself, decided to look into nail problems and whaRead More»
Virtual Grooming Session with Dr. Kurt  -
July 9, 2012
Aaron Marino of alpha m. shares a virtual grooming success story. Meet Dr. Kurt and check out his before-and-after pictures. Dr. Kurt has been slowing transitioning his style and image after following Alpha's videos but wants more help with his hair and facial hair.  Aaron went to the drawing board with the grooming session and devised a plan. Dr. Kurt executed the plan and shows how a little difRead More»
Manscaping | Threading Facial Hair -
June 28, 2012
There is a relatively new method of facial hair removal here in the states that's giving waxing and other forms of hair removal competition and for good reason. Threading, believed to have originated centuries ago in the Middle East, is quickly becoming the hair removal choice of many because of it's gentleness and superior precision. Typically used to shape and remove hair from eyebrows in westerRead More»

Perspiration | How to Not Sweat After a Shower -
June 22, 2012
Aaron Marino of alpha m. gives a cool tip about how to not sweat after a hot shower.  His solution has been tested for about two weeks now, and it works every time. He takes a hot shower. Then about 2-minutes before getting out, he keeps reducing the temperature from hot to warm to cooler so that his body core temperature is reduced. Read More»
Control the Gray the Natural Way -
June 19, 2012
I think you'll agree that no one gets excited, in a good way, when they see their first gray hair, especially if they're under the age of 40.  Graying is something we all experience at some point in life, yet as natural and expected as it is, its' presence is never a welcomed sight. Gray hair reminds us we're getting older, which most of us would rather pull out our fingernails then become.  HowRead More»
Fake Tanning | Tanning Beds -
June 15, 2012
Aaron Marino of alpha m. discusses the use of tanning beds. Aaron used to tan every other day when he was in his 20's. When he hit around 30 years old, he started developing fine lines and wrinkles. About 3-years ago, he decided not to tan because of tanning being harmful for your skin. During the summer, he uses sun-block and sunscreen to protect his skin from sun's harmful rays. Don't tan too muRead More»
Jaw Strenghtening Options | Strong Jawline -
June 13, 2012
Plastic surgery procedures provide jaw strengthening options which Aaron Marino of alpha m. discusses in his video. Surgical procedures can strengthen your jaw with an implant, suture neck muscles, and liposuction fat. The result is a strong jaw with a little scar under your skin. If it's a small aspect, try to get over it with acceptance, weight loss, and grooming techniques. However, plastic surRead More»
Smile Facelift  -
May 29, 2012
Our smile is, without a doubt, one of our greatest assets.  It not only tells the world we're happy or think something's funny, but it lights up our face and just makes us look better.  It does something else, too... it reveals our teeth... which isn't a problem if they're in good shape, but if not, less than perfect teeth have a way of limiting our smiles.  Feeling self-conscious is an awful sRead More»

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