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Exfoliation from a holistic perspective - why less is more.

Rethinking Exfoliating with Anna Edsall & Healthy Skin Saturday, an upcoming class at The Vervain Collective.


In the world of mainstream beauty practices, exfoliating has become known as the magic step to cure all of our skin woes. Breaking out? Exfoliate. Skin feeling dry? Exfoliate. Hyperpigmentation? Exfoliate. Feeling sad? Exfoliate!


In the midst of all of this talk on exfoliation solving all of our skincare problems, we seem to have forgotten the skin's natural cycle of cellular turnover and its innate ability to heal and hydrate itself.


There are two ways to exfoliate, the first being mechanical exfoliation. These are your scrubs and anything with any grit to it. The second is known as chemical exfoliation–the main forms of chemical exfoliation are Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHAs) and Beta Hydroxy Acids (BHAs). AHAs are water soluble and BHAs are oil soluble, meaning BHAs have the ability to penetrate deeper into the skin than AHAs. Both of these forms of exfoliation give us the look of glowing, dewy skin instantly, but this is often short term and it actually can cause harm if done too often and too aggressively.


Let’s briefly break down the basics of how the skin works and why stripping it of natural oils and dead skin cells can be harmful in the long run.


For about the last decade scientists have been studying the importance and intricacies of the skin’s microbiome. Your microbiome—the symbiotic collection of 1 trillion bacteria, fungi, viruses, and other microorganisms living on and in your skin, is an intricate system working to self-protect, self-hydrate, self-exfoliate, self-heal, and even self-cleanse.

The skin’s ability to self exfoliate is called desquamation. Desquamation is the skin’s natural shedding process. It takes the average skin cell 28 days to cycle from creation to desquamation. That process is activated by bodily enzymes that loosen the bonds between corneocytes and the barrier.


The more products we use and the more we exfoliate, the more we can damage our skin barrier and microbiome, depleting the essential nutrients it needs to function properly. This can lead to a host of skin inflammation ailments including acne, rosacea, psoriasis, redness, irritation, eczema, and more. Hydrated skin is happy skin, and oftentimes we can achieve that by leaving our skin alone. Most of our hydration lives within the skin, beneath the top layer (the epidermis), in the deeper tissues known as the dermis. Hyaluronic acid molecules are naturally occurring in our skin. HA loves water and will hold onto it, binding it to your cells. When the water in our skin meets the naturally occurring oils in our skin, voila, a moisturizer is created. The dead skin cells (corneocytes) are what help deliver that moisturizer into our skin. So our dead skin cells are very important! Constantly sloughing them off throws off this whole process potentially resulting in a compromised barrier and an unhappy microbiome.


The good news is there are gentle, effective ways to exfoliate without compromising the skin barrier. I recommend a gentle exfoliation 1-2 times per week with a fruit enzyme or acid. These are more mild than most scrubs and work by digesting dead skin cells as opposed to sloughing them off. It is also important to look at your internal hydration when combatting dry, dehydrated skin. Drinking plenty of water or herbal tea and eating an abundance of healthy fats can hydrate our cells from the inside out.


Anna Edsall is holistic esthetician and creator of Oil Studio Skincare. She has been an esthetician for 15 years and believes wholeheartedly in the power of plants to heal the skin. The Oil Studio space in Boise offers holistic skincare treatments, consultations, sugaring hair removal, and creative classes and events.


For more about Anna and her offerings you can visit her website and find her on social media here.







Interested in learning more?


Upcoming New Class at The Vervain Collective

Healthy Skin Saturday

Healthy skin and how to take care of it from the inside out!


Join us for a collaborative class on herbal and natural remedies for healthy skin and simple holistic practices you can incorporate today to support your natural beauty.


What we apply to our skin has a huge impact on our health (and vice versa!), and the health of our skin is a direct reflection of a much deeper process that may be happening within our bodies. Open to all ages (parent/kid discount available!) and skin types!


March 5 from 2-5pm

Vervain Classroom

$30 general; $40 parent/kid; $15 student

Dr. Nicole Pierce, Briana Beford, & Anna Edsall


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