When it comes to exfoliating, there are methods aplenty that will get the job done, but many of them can aggravate skin and leave it feeling dried out and sensitive. If that rings a bell, it’s time to get acquainted with gommages, the easiest, gentlest way to tell dead skin to peace out. Gommages actually borrow their name from French verb meaning “to scrub.” Since their advent, they’ve have been used worldwide, and according to Uma oils founder and Ayurvedic expert Shrankhla Holecek, they’re frequently tapped in India, because the gentle ingredients in them align with Ayurvedic skin-care philosophies.
“Ayurveda applies powerful but thoroughly gentle ingredients and rituals to ensure that skin is perfectly cleansed, but never stripped of the natural oils it produces as a barrier to fight environmental attack or altered in pH,” she tells me. Essentially, you slather on the typically rough-feeling, textured product (though some can be more of a smooth paste consistency) then leave it on for a couple of minutes before rinsing it off. Rather than sloughing off your dead skin cells (like other exfoliators do) gommages work by simply binding to the external debris on your skin—which comes off with water without leaving your skin sensitized.
“Synthetic or traditional cleansers can sometimes be overly stripping, cause unwanted damage to the good skin cells, and negatively impact your pH, explains Holecek. “Facial scrubs use granules to buff the skin, while gommages very specifically bind to what’s external on your skin. So the way of plucking dead skin off is entirely different. Gommages don’t touch or harshly rub against good skin.” These gentle ingredients that make up gommages’ exfoliating power are typically chickpea powders, orange peel powders, nut powders (like almonds), and oatmeal, she tells me.
Manon Pilon, author, renowned skin-care educator, and formulator for Nelly De Vuyst agrees, adding that facial scrubs count as mechanical exfoliation. “A gommage is healthier for your skin as it stimulates cellular renewal without causing any trauma or damage to the skin,” she says. “The purpose of the gommage is to remove evenly superficial dead skin cells, which results in a healthy glow.” This is opposed to scrubs, which because of so many variable (the pressure in your fingertips, the smoothness of the grain at hand, etc) frequently cause uneven exfoliation.
On top of the base sloughing ingredients in gommages also give you the perk of hydrating or brightening as you exfoliate. “Sometimes they’re spiked with special ingredients such as turmeric and neem for acne, sandalwood for brightening, or honey and goat milk for drier, more mature skin,” says Holecek. Body gommages also exist, which, according to her, replicate the action of a pumice to slough away skin. However you do it, you’ll undoubtedly feel chic simply saying that you use a gommage to cleanse your face.
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