Skin is the largest organ of the body. It is the protective barrier to germs, viruses, allergens, and ultraviolet light. But its ability to create a barrier to water loss is its most crucial function. The most superficial layer of skin is composed of layers of cells, designed like a brick wall.

Each skin cell is surrounded by a protective waterproofing layer of fat. One can swim in an ocean or a pool for hours; nothing passes into or out of the skin thanks to this fatty layer. Each superficial cell contains sponge-like compounds that help absorb water into the skin from the deeper layers. Basically, the skin moisturizes itself! That’s why the skin on individuals, who never, or rarely moisturize, doesn’t chip and crack and fall onto the sidewalk.

The 15 – 20 skin layers at the very surface of the skin are responsible for maintaining skin hydration. You need them. Although there are several skin procedures that pride themselves on stripping cells at the surface of this necessary layer, and yes, it may temporarily feel good, there is little, if any, scientific evidence that shows removing these layers, and stripping the very cells that maintain the skin’s water barrier, is healthy. Also note, inflammation from exfoliants and scrubs can cause pigmentary changes in the skin and may even leave the skin more vulnerable to infection.

If you have healthy skin, forget the exfoliants and scrubs. Yes, they remove a few dead cells, some dirt, and a bit of oil, but they also remove the necessary proteins and lipids that the skin needs to maintain hydration. If you have oily skin or are acne prone, see a dermatologist.

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