Exfoliation: Chemical vs Physical -Which is better? Which one to choose?

Exfoliation: Chemical vs Physical -Which is better? Which one to choose?

Exfoliation plays an important role in skincare, however there is always a dilemma about what to do and which one to choose. If you don’t do it the right way with the right products, it can do more harm than good.

What is Exfoliation and how it works?

Dead skin cells that gets build up on the skin’s surface can make skin look dull and dry. It can cause clogged pores and breakouts. Exfoliation is the process of removing these dead skin cells from your skin. It can help with the overall texture of the skin.

You can exfoliate your skin by either using a physical exfoliant or a chemical exfoliant. So which one is better and what should you choose, You ask? Let’s jump right into the details to help you understand better.

Physical Exfoliation :-

You may already be aware of physical exfoliation. When you physically remove the dead skin cells using either a scrub or even a cleansing brush. They show quick results and although it feels good to physically exfoliate your skin, it might be too harsh.

Physical Exfoliation vs Chemical Exfoliation

Drawback of using Physical Exfoliation :-

The exfoliating particles and abrasive ingredients in physical exfoliations (specially like the Apricot Scrubs or scrubs with nut shells) are way too harsh on the skin. They can cause micro tears in the skin damaging the skin’s barrier. If you have sensitive skin, physical exfoliants can cause irritation and redness.

However, not all physical exfoliants are skin damaging. So let’s see what can be used and what should be avoided at any cost.
If you want to go with physical exfoliation, make sure to keep these things in mind :

  • Use exfoliants with gentle ingredients, and be very gentle while using it on the skin.
  • Do it for only once a week. Frequent exfoliation can cause dryness and irritation.
  • Avoid scrubs and exfoliants with nut shells, apricot kernels or other harsh ingredients at any cost.
  • Avoid physical exfoliation if you have sensitive or very dry skin.
  • You can choose a gentle silicone cleansing brush to physically exfoliate the dead skin cells.
  • Professional treatments like microdermabrasion or dermaplaning can be done. These should be done by a licensed professional.

Recommended Products for Physical Exfoliation:-

  • Facial Cleansing Tools like ๐…๐จ๐ซ๐ž๐จ ๐‹๐ฎ๐ง๐š and ๐‚๐ฅ๐š๐ซ๐ข๐ฌ๐จ๐ง๐ข๐œ
  • Gentle exfoliants like ๐…๐ซ๐ž๐ฌ๐ก ๐’๐ฎ๐ ๐š๐ซ ๐…๐š๐œ๐ž ๐๐จ๐ฅ๐ข๐ฌ๐ก ๐„๐ฑ๐Ÿ๐จ๐ฅ๐ข๐š๐ญ๐จ๐ซ
  • ๐“๐ก๐ž ๐๐จ๐๐ฒ ๐’๐ก๐จ๐ฉ ๐“๐ž๐š ๐“๐ซ๐ž๐ž ๐Ÿ‘-๐ข๐ง-๐Ÿ ๐–๐š๐ฌ๐ก (check full review here)

Chemical Exfoliation :-

Chemical exfoliants or Acid exfoliants dissolves the bonds that hold the skin cells together. You might get intimidated by the word chemical or acids. However, chemical exfoliants are in fact gentler and safer than physical ones.
Most of the chemical exfoliants are natural and fruit derived. There are three types of chemical exfoliants.
Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHA), Poly Hydroxy Acids (PHA) and Beta Hydroxy Acids (BHA)

While AHA works on the top layer of the skin to remove dead skin cells. BHA penetrates deep into the skin to clear clogged pores and reduce sebum production. PHA are similar to AHA but larger in molecular weight. I have a detailed post focusing only on AHA, PHA and BHA. (Check it here)

Natural sources of AHA and BHA include citrus fruits like oranges, pineapples. Other sources are strawberries, peaches etc.

Drawbacks of Chemical Exfoliation :-

So what’s the downside if chemical exfoliation are gentle, You ask?

It is the TIME. Just like all good things takes time to work, so does chemical exfoliation.
Unlike Physical Exfoliation, you’ll not see or feel the difference in just one use. Acids takes time to break down the dead skin cells therefore it can take 1-2 months to start seeing the effects.

Also over doing anything is harmful. Too much chemical exfoliation can also cause sensitivity and dryness.
Use of SPF is a must if you’re using any of the chemical exfoliants. They tend to make the skin photosensitive.
Even if you’re not using any chemicals Sunscreen should be an important step in your routine. It’s better to protect your skin from sun damage and free radical damage rather than buying products to treat the damage.

Recommended Products for Chemical Exfoliation :-

  • ๐“๐ก๐ž ๐Ž๐ซ๐๐ข๐ง๐š๐ซ๐ฒ ๐€๐‡๐€ ๐Ÿ‘๐ŸŽ% + ๐๐‡๐€ ๐Ÿ% ๐๐ž๐ž๐ฅ๐ข๐ง๐  ๐’๐จ๐ฅ๐ฎ๐ญ๐ข๐จ๐ง
  • ๐๐š๐ฎ๐ฅ๐š’๐ฌ ๐‚๐ก๐จ๐ข๐œ๐ž ๐’๐ค๐ข๐ง ๐๐ž๐ซ๐Ÿ๐ž๐œ๐ญ๐ข๐ง๐  ๐Ÿ% ๐๐‡๐€ ๐‹๐ข๐ช๐ฎ๐ข๐ ๐„๐ฑ๐Ÿ๐จ๐ฅ๐ข๐š๐ง๐ญ
  • ๐“๐ก๐ž ๐Ž๐ซ๐๐ข๐ง๐š๐ซ๐ฒ ๐‹๐š๐œ๐ญ๐ข๐œ ๐€๐œ๐ข๐ ๐Ÿ๐ŸŽ% + ๐‡๐€ ๐Ÿ%
  • ๐ƒ๐ซ๐ฎ๐ง๐ค ๐„๐ฅ๐ž๐ฉ๐ก๐š๐ง๐ญ ๐“.๐‹.๐‚. ๐…๐ซ๐š๐ฆ๐›๐จ๐จ๐ฌ ๐†๐ฅ๐ฒ๐œ๐จ๐ฅ๐ข๐œ ๐๐ข๐ ๐ก๐ญ ๐’๐ž๐ซ๐ฎ๐ฆ

The Bottom Line :-

Now that you know the difference and how both physical and chemical exfoliants works, I hope it helps you choose a better product for your skin.
The bottom line is that chemical exfoliation is better and more effective than the physical ones. They are suitable for all skin types you can choose product with less concentration when starting new.

You can use a chemical exfoliant 2-3 times a week, start slow giving breaks in between days. If you choose to use a physical exfoliants, use it only for once a week.
Yes, you can use both chemical and physical exfoliants in your skincare (just not at the same day). Choose as per your skin type and skin concerns. Listen to your skin and always do a patch test before trying out any new product.

Share your thoughts :-

Let me know what do you think about this post the comment section below. Also let me know your favorite exfoliating products. Like and Share this post if you find it helpful in any way.

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Iโ€™ll be back with another post, until then keep pampering yourself, youโ€™re worth itโ€ฆ!!!

Disclaimer : Please note that I share content as per my experience with the products. Products that work for me may or may not work the same for you. Please do your own research before trying out a product. If you have any underlying skin condition, please consult your esthetician.

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