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Physical vs. Chemical Exfoliation Explained

Exfoliation is a key part of any skincare routine. Helping to clear away dead skin cells and unclog the pores, the right exfoliator will leave your skin looking fresh and radiant. However, not all exfoliators are made equal.

There are several things you’ll need to consider before adding a face exfoliator to your routine. One of the first things to decide is whether to use physical or chemical exfoliation. Not sure what the difference is? Learn everything you need to know about physical and chemical exfoliation below

Physical Vs Chemical Exfoliation

Physical exfoliation products are the ones you are likely most familiar with. They contain a scrubbing agent such as sugar, which rubs away dead skin cells. While they can be great at providing instant visible results, they can also be too harsh on the skin. They focus solely on the top layer of skin, offering temporary results.

Chemical exfoliation on the other hand, sounds like something you might want to avoid! However, these products actually tend to be gentler on the skin than physical exfoliation. They typically contain ingredients such as BHA (beta-hydroxy acids) and AHA (alpha-hydroxy acids). These products target the inner layers of skin, rather than just the top. This means it can take a little longer to start seeing results, but they will be more noticeable in the long-term.

Chemical exfoliants work differently in the fact they break down the “glue” that holds dead skin cells together. This makes them easier to wipe away, leading to less skin irritation. The best chemical exfoliant will contain gentle yet effective ingredients such as salicylic acid and vitamins.

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Understanding the different types of chemical exfoliation

You have several options when choosing chemical exfoliators. It’s a good idea to understand the different products on offer so you’ll know which one is right for your skin.

AHA chemical exfoliant products work to improve the texture of the skin. They include acids such as malic, glycolic, citric, and lactic. These are often sourced from fruits, though some may be synthetically created.

BHA chemical exfoliants are oil-soluble enabling them to penetrate the skin’s pores. As well as improving the skin’s texture, they also help to eliminate serum that can lead to the development of acne. These types of products tend to contain tropic and salicylic acid.

You may need to try several different types to find the one that best works for you. There is no singular best chemical exfoliation product you should buy.

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How do you use chemical exfoliation?

Chemical exfoliants come in different strengths. Over-the-counter products tend to be quite mild and they can be used daily. Stronger chemical exfoliants on the other hand, are available through dermatologists and they are offered in chemical peel form. These are designed to be used once or twice weekly as directed.

If you are using daily chemical exfoliation products, you’ll want to make sure you’re using them correctly. Ideally, you’ll want to start your skincare routine with a good cleanser. By cleansing the face first, it gives the exfoliator a clean slate to work on. Next, use your face exfoliant, followed up by an exfoliating toner. Complete your routine with a good-quality moisturiser.

The best time to use chemical exfoliation is in the morning. This is because the dead skin cells loosen up overnight, making it easier to remove them in the morning.

If you’re ready to start enjoying brighter, fresher, and healthier-looking skin, try chemical exfoliation today. There are lots of great natural products available. These expert products tend to offer a gentler cleaning solution to the physical exfoliators you are used to.