CHEMICAL vs. PHYSICAL EXFOLIATION
Exfoliation removes dirt, debris, excess oil, and dead skin cells that can make the skin appear older. The upper, outermost layer of the skin (epidermis) sheds an average of one million skin cells a day, but its natural desquamation process can easily be disrupted by a number of internal and external factors. For example, over exposure to sunlight, hormonal influences, age, and deficiencies in various vitamins (A and D). When the skin is unable to shed cells effectively, a host of problems may occur, including skin disease, dull complexion, fine lines, wrinkles, acne, and uneven skin tone and texture.
However, using the wrong exfoliating modality or over exfoliating can have adverse effects. So how do you choose the most effective exfoliation method? First, it requires a thorough understanding of the skin, as well as physical and chemical exfoliators. This is why it’s so important to seek skin care advice and opt for products recommended by a licensed esthetician or skin professional. Think of it this way, would you go to a doctor for treatment if he or she did not have a license to practice? The same applies to caring for your skin.
Proper exfoliation stimulates the skin and cell turnover, lifts dead cells, and begins the regenerating process. The two primary methods are chemical and physical, both of which work in different ways.
Physical exfoliators only affect the upper, superficial layer of the skin and tend to be more suitable for oilier, thicker, and younger skin. The most common types of physical exfoliators are coffee grinds, sugar, jojoba beads, walnut shell powder, pearl powder, or bamboo powder. These scrubs are abrasive ingredients that can buff and polish the skin, but despite being natural, they aren’t as effective or as gentle as chemical exfoliants. Although scrubs can be helpful for body exfoliation, they are not the best option for facial skin since you run the risk of over manipulation or over exfoliation (causing microscopic skin tears), dryness, and post inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH).
Chemical exfoliation disrupts the stratum corneum by breaking down the bonds of the desmosomes and freeing the cells to slough off. This affects collagen and elastin and promotes cell renewal. Some excellent types of chemical exfoliators include: enzymes, AHAs, BHA’s, retinol, and hydroxypinacolone retinoate (HPR). These are best for dry, sensitive, acneic, sun damaged/photo pigmented skin, and skin with fine lines and wrinkles. When products are well formulated and administered properly (incorporating the use of daily SPF), the results are luminous tone, even texture, and bright, healthy looking skin.
Try our AHA Exfoliant Serum! A powerful aloe-based chemical exfoliant formulated with 20% alpha hydroxy acids: glycolic and lactic to accelerate the skin's cellular turnover and regenerate dull, photo-aged, and hyperpigmented skin. Recommended for individuals concerned about fine lines and wrinkles, acne, dark spots, ingrown hairs, or keratosis pilaris.