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  • Writer's pictureTamara Hutchins, L.Ac., MSTCM

Polish Your Skin - Why Exfoliation Is Essential For A Bright Complexion

The best recipe for a healthy complexion is exfoliated, well-nourished and hydrated skin with a veil of protection on top.

A quick lesson in Chinese medicine theory may help you understand how we Oriental medicine practitioners view the functioning of our complexions: The pores are fascinating little environmental regulators for not only our skin by balancing Yin -our lubricant, protectant and most nurturing body substances (oil production). But actually most all organ functioning, since the skin is our outermost and largest organ in the body, as well as our first line of defense for our immune system. And the pores are the gatekeepers. When we are exposed to wind and cold, which is very Yang in nature; the pores “lock up the doors” and constrict as an aid to not only protect our immune system or “Wei Qi” as we call it. Wei Qi is our defense mechanism and it resides at the very surface of our skin. And when our pores are constricted, they are in survival mode. The doors are locked and no production of Yin is allowed, since the pores are defending us from the harsh Yang elements so that we can remain healthy.

Decreased oil production means less luminosity and sheen to the skin, which is what we’re trying to avoid if we want a Yin-rich, soft, lovely, youthful complexion. So, when we’ve been battling the dry weather either indoors or outdoors, that decreased oil production is another factor in building up dead skin cells.

Healthy exfoliation is the key to a fresh face all year long. But, how do we do this without stripping our skin or damaging it? Remember the days of the deep chemical peels and apricot granules that abraded and damaged our skin? Or remember the micro-beads that basically roll along the surface of the dull skin, not really removing much and eventually landing in our water supply and oceans? Gasp!

The answer is gentle, natural exfoliation on a regular basis, every few days, depending on the sensitivity of your skin. A nice balance of exfoliation aids in absorption of the serums and moisturizing products you apply topically to protect and nourish. But, if they’re blocked by tightened pores and dead skin that’s been created as a barrier to the harsh environment (think mountain winds or even air conditioning in the Summertime), you’re wasting your time and money because your moisturizers are unable to penetrate. We can certainly visit our favorite esthetician for an enzyme peel, microdermabrasion or dermaplaning to reveal fresh, healthy skin again. But, most of us don’t have the space in our lives for weekly visits. In the interim, we must polish at home.

What to do? Let me introduce my Zen Redhead Zen Polish and why this beautiful powder's formula is a must for your skin!

Ancient Chinese medicine has used pearl powder for centuries. Yes, it is the powder of silky, beautiful pearls ground into a fine, fine texture. Not only is pearl powder a gentle exfoliant, it’s mineral content actually brightens the skin without bleaching it and stimulates collagen production. How does it stimulate collagen? By reducing “peroxidation”, which is one of the body’s most destructive aging processes. We begin losing collagen even as young as 25 years old! Pearl powder contains specific “signal proteins” that help reverse this process. As well, pearl powder literally accelerates new skin growth, is an anti-oxidant, repairs melanin / hyperpigmentation / sun damage, increases elasticity and heals acne and blemishes. Your skin literally glows when you exfoliate or mask with this magnificent powder at least twice a week!

Other granules such as organic rice powder, another ancient Asian beauty secret, has been added for it’s skin brightening and anti-inflammatory properties. Rice powder has a high allantoin content, which is a powerful anti-inflammatory and collagen stimulating element. As well, it’s ferulic acid content aids in protecting our skin from sun damage. It also contains a nice amount of vitamin B, which promotes cell production, and the tyrosinase that is also present heals hyperpigmentation.

Coconut powder, a known anti-inflammatory element as well, has also been added into the formula for it’s nourishing properties for dry skin. As well, coconut’s anti-bacterial properties for everyone’s skin including those contending with acne issues, and irritated skin, thanks to it’s lauric acid content – a long chain fatty acid known to be even more effective on clearing acne than benzoyl peroxide.

That was a lot of science! So, how do I use it, you ask?

Cleanse your skin, preferably with my Pure Geisha Oil Cleanser, which I will go in depth about in a future blog post. Pat your skin until damp. Then, use the little wooden spoon I’ve placed in every bottle to scoop out the perfect amount of powder. Apply your Zen Polish all over face, and even your neck and décolleté if desired (perhaps a second scoop for the additional areas) and swirl your fingers lightly for about one minute or until slightly pink. You will feel your skin warm up. You can even do a very gentle exfoliation under and around your eyes by using your ring fingers verrrrrrry gently. At this point, you can rinse with water and pat dry to move on to your moisturizing step. But, if you would like to mask with your Zen Polish, you can let the powder sit for up to 15 minutes and then rinse. This is a lovely, more intensive treatment that your skin will appreciate! Your skin will feel warmer and invigorated, even if you simply exfoliate.

And that’s it! We will chat about moisture later. Until then… Enjoy your luminous complexion, compliments of Mother Nature!

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