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Talking About Exfoliation

Don’t You Know? Exfoliation is Unnecessary

It’s true. Exfoliation is not necessary when the skin is functioning optimally. Your skin knows what it needs to do in order to function well and be naturally beautiful. Not trusting your skin to do this on its own can create dependency (through a control cycle) on exfoliation which in turn can upset the acid mantle and damage the stratum corneum (the uppermost layer of the skin that many people consider to be useless, but Holistic Aestheticians know is a natural protectant from disease and damage.)

But what about “dead skin?”

Under the top layers of the skin skin there is an entire system of tissue and vessels that ushers metabolic waste, cellular debris and other undesired material to where it can be properly recycled or disposed of while bringing fresh nutrients and oxygen to the entirety of the skin. When this system is supported by a healthy lifestyle, truly nourishing products, and regular loving massage, it has what it needs to function well and cellular turnover happens exactly as it should. 

Simple Math: Building Up vs. Breaking Down

If you break down more than you build up, you will end up in a deficiency.

If your skin is dull, irritable, or has a tendency towards little white bumps, it would actually behoove you to work on repairing the barrier instead of breaking it down further. Harsh exfoliants–particularly when used on a regular basis–work against the body rebuilding itself.

When a product forces the skin to shed too much too quickly, the lower layers are forced to amp up the renewal process and the production of new cells in order to remedy the situation. This leaves the dermis and the lower layers of the skin in the precarious position of either doing the best it can to rebuild as quickly as possible (creating a sup-par outcome and less-than-perfect new cells) or not being sufficiently protected. 

Either way, this is not preferable and does not lead to more beautiful skin in the coming skin cycles.

A picture of someone using an electric sander
Photo by Jana Sabeth on Unsplash
Supporting the skin’s function encourages renewal from the inside out.

You may be surprised to learn that taking care to support what’s happening underneath the skin can have a positive effect on the skin’s surface. Following our Supportive Skin Care Regimen (facial bathing in the AM and Mineral Mist at night), supporting lymphatic movement through regular massage and nourishing the skin both with a healthy diet and the whole, natural ingredients with the intact messages from properly prepared plants that our Between You & The Moon Functional Skin Care Line provides will give you fresher, more vibrant skin and keep you more radiant in the long run than any amount of exfoliation ever could.

What Brooklyn Herborium Offers

Sometimes the skin isn’t functioning optimally and could use our support or perhaps we have a special occasion coming up and we want a little boost. In those cases, some thoughtful exfoliation may be a good idea.

A Whisper

Sow Your Wild Oats
Integrity Biome Mask
Vita-C Dry Serum

Our Functional Skincare Line offers gentle, supportive products made with properly-prepared plants, quality minerals, and the finest organic ingredients with no artificial chemicals or preservatives. For best results, you must measure out the proper ratios of the product and HOT water and mix together before applying to the skin.

Sow Your Wild Oats provides gentle exfoliation that keeps a healthy barrier refreshed. Everything is constantly shifting–the seasons, our hormones, our immunity–and that can lead to stagnation under the surface of the skin in the vessels (blood, lymph), the tissues/pores (build-up/congestion) and glands. During seasonal shifts and the weather changes (and colds!) that go along with them, you can use Sow Your Wild Oats every day if you want to–but only a few times a week is necessary. If your skin is sensitized due to an over-use of essential oils or other intense products, you may want to skip the Sow Your Wild Oats until your body has rebuilt itself and dealt with the sensitization. (See one of our Holistic Skin Care Specialists or Practitioners.)

Integrity Biome Mask is an herbal mask that is more “re-foliating” than exfoliating due to the pure nourishing “rebuilding” herbs and blue-green algae that gives it its distinctive texture, scent, and color. Talk about ALL NATURAL! When someone is rebuilding their structural integrity, we will even encourage using this 3 times a week. When the skin is functioning well, it isn’t as necessary and using it whenever you need a boost (even if just emotional) is fine.

Vita-C 10 Minute Dry Serum* is not officially an exfoliant, but it can give people the results they are looking for from an exfoliant without the irritation. In our treatment room, our Holistic Practitioners have nick-named this “clearing serum”, but for the general public we have never shied from long, descriptive names. When there is stagnation that results in an “–itis” type dysfunction (think perioral dermatitis) it can be helpful to pull out this dry serum, mix it with an appropriate amount of water and apply to the skin for 10 minutes and then remove promptly. 

*Slight exception to the “Functional Skincare Line”– We do not consider this to be part of the Functional Skincare Line because this product does contain an isolated plant-derived Vitamin-C that is not naturally occurring in its state. We decided to formulate it this way because we recognized that when this product is particularly needed, it is when someone has been using occlusive creams, oils, and balms for a period of time and plain fruit just isn’t enough to clear it out. It is the same Vitamin C that we give our kids when they are ill.

A Nudge

Pumpkin Peel
Rose Renewal Masque

Our Advanced Skin Care Line is also made with the finest ingredients, including organic plants and herbs, but they also contain actives derived from natural sources and, because they are emulsified products,  an environmentally-friendly, skin-safe preservative system. These products are meant for seasonal and special occasion use–not everyday! We recognize that other skin care companies make products that are actually far STRONGER than our products and tell you to use them everyday. …And we recognize that if you do that you will get baby-soft skin for a while–but we know from our many, many years of experience that breaking down more than you build up is simply not a good idea and eventually leads to damaged skin that cannot be rebuilt again.

Pumpkin Peel & Rose Renewal Mask closely resemble what other companies tout as exfoliants. We classify them as special occasion exfoliants that are best used 5-10 days before an event in order to give the skin a magical glow. Though they are gentle enough to use on a weekly basis, we don’t want you to make a habit it out of it because it’s not good for anyone’s skin in the long run to be dependant on a product to do what the skin should naturally be doing it its own ( which includes deciding when it needs to let go of old skin). We offer this because we trust our clients to use their intelligence and be judicious about special occasion use. Furthermore, these are seasonal products–Pumpkin Peel is incredible for dry, cold weather while Rose Renewal Mask is more suited to warmer, moist times of year.

Also not officially an “exfoliant” Vita-C 10 Day Treatment, when used properly, provides the type of result that many people look for in exfoliation but cannot actually achieve. You may be under the impression that taking away layers of skin will make your dark spots disappear. Though the skin may look smoother and fresher initially, thinning the skin can actually bring on more hyperpigmentation for two good reasons: First, because your skin uses pigmentation as a defense mechanism–producing more melanin when it feels under attack and second, because taking away those protective “dead skin cells” allows for more exposure to the elements–particularly the sun. So, rather than exfoliating to fade hyperpigmentation, we offer a method of antioxidant renewal that you use for about 10 days in a row up to four times a year to encourage your skin to rebuild without the stress. It’s a win because it really works.

Finding Balance

Photo by Irene Irene on Unsplash

Taking care of your skin can be a truly enjoyable experience that enriches your life. The style of Functional Self Care we teach at Brooklyn Herborium has plenty of room for all the little extras that make us feel great and look amazing. It is up to you to figure out your sweet spot between building up and breaking down–both in your skin care and in your life. Sometimes you have an excess and you need more cleansing–your hair, your diet, your closet.–and sometimes you have to know when you have depleted too much and it is time to rebuild.


Pumpkin Peel
Rose Renewal Masque
Sow Your Wild Oats
Integrity Biome Mask
Vita-C Dry Serum
By Emma Graves

Emma, a certified herbalist & highly skilled aesthetician who has been working in natural skin care since 1998, originally developed the Between You and the Moon product line to serve her clients in finding a method of natural, holistic skin care that provided tangible results. A 4+ generation holistic practitioner, her love of skin care and holistic methods was chronicled in her early blog “The Pimple Whisperer,” some of which is still available on this website.

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