The Difference Between Physical and Chemical Exfoliation

The Difference Between Physical and Chemical Exfoliation

Updated on 30th June 2020 at 11:15 am

We know how important exfoliation is to the health of your skin, well we hope you do, as exfoliation is one of the easiest ways to boost your glow. Regular exfoliation helps to shed dead skin cells, deeply clean your pores and increase cellular turnover. It also helps your serums, moisturizers, and oils penetrate deeper into your skin and work more effectively to give you the best results. 

When you’re not keeping up with regular exfoliation dull, flaky and congested skin can arise, while making wrinkles and fine lines more pronounced. Over time as we age, and as our skin is overexposed to environmental aggressors, the rate the cellular renewal slows. So it’s vital to keep up your exfoliating routine for fresh, younger-looking skin.  

There are two ways you can exfoliate your skin, with either a chemical or physical exfoliant. Each technique has its own benefits and whether you choose one or a combination, both physical and chemical exfoliation can depend on a few factors.

What is a Chemical Exfoliator?

A chemical or liquid exfoliant uses fruit acids or enzymes such as AHAs (Alpha Hydroxy Acids) and BHAs (Beta Hydroxy Acids) to gently exfoliate your skin. Chemical exfoliants work by not only sloughing away the dead skin cells on the surface but a chemical exfoliant like a BHA will work deeper into the skin penetrating the pores to clear buildup and congestion to give you that next-level glow.

KORA Organics Noni Night AHA Resurfacing Serum Goop

What is a Physical Exfoliator?

Physical or manual exfoliation is a product that requires manual rubbing or scrubbing to lift and buff away dry or dead skin cells that have formed on the top layer of your skin. Common physical exfoliators can be facial and body scrubs that often use small granules or even brushes or face cloths. Unlike chemical exfoliators, physical exfoliators work on the upper layer of the skin.

Turmeric Brightening & Exfoliating Mask Goop

Which exfoliator is better for my skin?

Chemical exfoliators sound intense but they are often best for those with sensitive skin as they can be gentler. But how do chemical exfoliants work? Well, chemical exfoliants work to gradually dissolve the dead skin cell bonds that hold them together and don’t require any rubbing or scrubbing. Chemical exfoliants are quick and easy to use as they stay on the skin and work their magic long after you’ve applied them.

Physical exfoliators can be easily integrated into your routine but do require a little more time and effort to execute. However physical exfoliants do have the benefit of producing immediate results. Physical exfoliators can also help to stimulate circulation and increase blood flow for a brighter complexion.

Whether a physical vs chemical exfoliation technique is up for debate, both will help to shed the dead and revive tired, dull skin leaving you with a fresher, brighter complexion, smaller-looking pores, and a smoother surface.

Miranda Kerr applying Turmeric Brightening & Exfoliating Mask

Post Exfoliation Care

After your exfoliator has done its job, make sure to continue your routine with mists, oils, and moisturizers to nourish, hydrate and protect your skin. Exfoliating also means fresh skin is exposed to the elements which may increase your sensitivity to the sun. Always apply a clean sunscreen daily to protect your skin from harmful UV rays.

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