Everyone knows one of the most important things to bear in mind when seeking skin as soft as a baby is to exfoliate, exfoliate and exfoliate some more. More and more the mysterious exfoliating sock has crept onto the shelves, begging the question, what exactly is an exfoliating sock and why should I move away from the more commonly used scrub?
First things first. Why is exfoliation so important?
Every good thing must come to an end, and your skin is no exception. Your cells die, dry out and build up. When you exfoliate these dead skin cells it exposes the beautiful soft skin hidden underneath, giving you better looking and feeling feet.
An added benefit is that without that pesky hard dry layer, your skin will be much more absorbent of other skin care products. This means you don’t have to go so far out of your way to keep your skin soft for longer (take a look at the 4 key steps to maintain healthy feet to see how easy it can be.
But why not just choose a scrub?
Now scrubs and other manual exfoliators do remove the dirt and dead skin. Giving your feet a strong rub with a gritty cleanser or pumice stone will over time reduce the build-up, but there are downsides.
A lot of scrubs use micro beads, tiny balls of plastic that, whilst good for exfoliating, are almost definitely not good for the environment. Many companies have pledged to phase out their use, and governments are starting to implement bans, but in the meantime, from a moral stand point, they should probably just be avoided altogether.
Of course, more environmentally friendly options do exist. Bamboo shoots or natural fibres are often used, which are often coarse and jagged, causing irritation and damage of the skin.
All of this aside, scrubs simply aren’t as effective. They only really take off dead skin on the surface, while the lotion inside an exfoliating mask will penetrate further, shedding older and deeper layers.
So how does an exfoliating sock work?
Like good food, ingredients are key to a good exfoliant, these being AHA (alpha-hydroxy acids) and BHA (beta-hydroxy acids).
- AHAs are usually glycolic and lactic acids, these penetrate the upper layers of skin and help remove dead skin cells. They promote regeneration meaning for a faster and more effective repair.
- BHA, or salicylic acid does almost the same thing, but much deeper. It penetrates into the pores themselves, and has the added benefit of being anti-microbial (fighting bad odours), anti-irritant and anti-inflammatory.
Put these together and you have a nice recipe for lovely soft, cleansed skin.