Physical vs Chemical Exfoliation: Which one is for you

Physical vs Chemical Exfoliation: Which one is for you

When we think of exfoliation as a step in our skincare routine, what comes to mind usually includes scrubbing your face raw! There are two types of exfoliators, and we’re here to help you figure out which is right for you: physical, chemical, or both?

Why exfoliate?

Exfoliation is actually a pretty key part to achieving glowing, even, and smooth skin. So how does it work? Exfoliators loosen and remove the dead skin cells that clogs pores and gives you that textured, dull appearance, from your skin’s surface. Having a consistent and gentle exfoliating routine will reveal that plump, fresh skin underneath - plus it allows your skincare products to work more efficiently by penetrating the areas between skin cells.

Physical vs Chemical

Physical exfoliants: Physical exfoliation involves the use of small grains or tools to physically slough away the outermost layer of the skin. This type of exfoliation is an easy and effective way to get rid of dead skin cells, clogged pores, blackheads, and other impurities on the surface of the skin.

However, it can be abrasive, and needs to be handled gently by opting to use fine-grained cleansers instead of large exfoliants like fruit pits or nut shells - as they can create micro-tears.

Chemical exfoliants: Chemical exfoliation can be categorized into two types of acids - AHAs and BHAs. Both of them remove dead skin cells with the aid of chemicals to boost cell turnover rate, stimulating the growth of fresh, healthy skin.

  • AHAs (alpha-hydroxy acids) are derived from natural substances that remove the “glue” that holds dead skin cells together. They are water-soluble, so they can’t penetrate as deeply into the pores and are gentle on sensitive skin.
  • BHAs (beta-hydroxy acids) are oil-soluble molecules that are able to reach deeper into the skin to penetrate pores. They break down the bonds between cells and have anti-inflammatory properties.

Which one is for you?

Although just about everyone can benefit from exfoliating, it is important to choose an exfoliator that is best for your skin type.

Aging skin: As we age, our cell turnover rate slows down, meaning that those dead skin cells are staying around on the surface of the skin for much longer - so consistently exfoliating is important through the years in order to maintain plump, youthful skin. We recommend the glow tonik as an easy and quick way to exfoliate while still maintaining skin hydration.

Dry skin: If you have dry skin, you may need to exfoliate in order to remove the build up of dead skin cells and flakes that sit on the surface of your skin, but you don’t need to exfoliate very often. Using physical exfoliation, such as our skrubbin’ face wash is a great option as it is easier to control the level of intensity when you are exfoliating. Be sure to follow with hydration-promoting serums and a nourishing moisturizer!

Oily skin: Oil can trap dirt and grime into the pores, meaning that working up to a gentle daily exfoliant (a combination of both physical and chemical exfoliants) can be good to promote healthy, fresh skin. For physical exfoliation, a gentle scrub is a great option if you find satisfaction in the feeling of sloughing away the oil, pollution, dirt, and grime of the day. Alternatively if you prefer to use chemical exfoliants - BHAs break down the bonds between cells, and as oil soluble molecules - they are perfect for oily skin types!

Acne-prone skin: A gentle chemical exfoliant is the way to go for blemish-prone skin. Particularly BHAs, as they are able to penetrate deeper into the skin and pores, plus they have great anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties. Physical exfoliation can spread pore-clogging bacteria from active blemishes on your face, so we recommend skipping it.

Sensitive skin: Chemical exfoliation is generally more recommended as they do not involve abrasively rubbing the skin. As they don’t penetrate as deeply into the skin, enzymatic exfoliators, such as our enzyme mask are effective and gentle enough to use for those with sensitive skin. Patch testing products is a good idea if your skin is reactive.

Our exfoliators:

aha mask – a skoah classic. Alpha hydroxy acids derived from the skins of apples and grapes loosen and lift dead, tired skin. Contains sea kelp algae to hydrate, this peppermint infused mask is for skins that react to scrubs.

enzyme mask – containing papain, an enzyme derived from papaya, this mask gently exfoliates skin by breaking down the protein that holds your dead skin cells together. This mask is a great option for all, but especially those with more sensitive skin.

face skrub – with finely ground pumice to polish the skin, sea kelp algae and hyaluronic acid to hydrate the skin, and comfrey root extract to soothe, the face skrub is a great option for drier skin types to slough away dead skin cells.

skrubbin’ face wash – the best of both worlds, this exfoliator and cleanser, contains ground up pumice to slough away dead skin, the skrubbin’ face wash is ideal for anyone looking for a fast and easy way to regularly exfoliate.

glow tonik – this product is a dream for anyone who struggles to regularly exfoliate their skin. This toner/exfoliant combo contains aha to lift dead skin, while also hydrating your skin with hyaluronic acid. Spritz on once daily or use with a cotton round 3-4 times a week for a more thorough exfoliation.

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