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Physical vs Chemical Exfoliation

Are you wondering how to get smooth legs and clear skin? The answer is simpler than you might think.

When it comes to cleansing the skin on your face, back, chest and even your bottom, exfoliation is the most effective and preventative way of eliminating acne or folliculitis. To put it simply, exfoliation is the process of removing the dead layer of skin cells from the top layers of your skin. This layer can cause skin issues by clogging healthy pores. When pores become blocked and inflamed, they can cause conditions like folliculitis. Not all types of exfoliation are equal. You can exfoliate with both scrubs and chemical treatments.

So, are chemical or physical exfoliants better? Let’s look into physical exfoliation vs. chemical exfoliation to help you decide which to choose.

Physical Exfoliation - Benefits

The chances are that you’re already familiar with physical exfoliation. You may have previously used nice-smelling scrubs, touting ingredients like apricot which work as abrasives to physically remove the dead skin cells as you wash and scrub. Physical exfoliants show you quick results as they are literally using force to buff off the dead skin cells. They also generally have fewer chemical interactions than other skincare products as well as promoting blood circulation to the face.

Physical Exfoliation - Drawbacks

An exfoliating scrub falls short when it comes to delicate skin. While the abrasives in the scrubs are good for removing skin cells on a normal skin type, using them on delicate skin could cause irritation which is something you want to avoid! What's more, for issues on the bottom like folliculitis, the irritation could actually make things worse. If you are unsure about whether you have delicate or normal skin, we recommend speaking with one of our skin specialists.

Chemical Exfoliation - Benefits

To better understand the physical exfoliation vs. chemical exfoliation dilemma, let’s take a look at the latter.

The word chemical may evoke thoughts of toxic substances however, for exfoliation purposes, these chemicals are incredibly safe and natural. The two main types of chemical exfoliators are Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHA’s) and Beta Hydroxy Acids (BHA’s).

AHA’s work superficially to interrupt the bonds holding together dead skin cells. BHA’s, on the other hand, have an affinity for oil and are great at penetrating deep into pores - perfect for people with acne issues. Lactic acids AHA’s and Salicylic acid BHA’s can both be found in our Priori range.

Chemical Exfoliation - Drawbacks

Of course, there are drawbacks to using a chemical exfoliant too. While using a BHA exfoliant or any salicylic acid product is simple enough, you need to consider how long you’re willing to wait for results. It’s gentle, will encourage a clearer, smoother, softer skin; fantastically anti-ageing. But this doesn’t happen overnight.

In truth, the main downside of chemical exfoliators is that they are not as fast-acting as physical scrubbing. This is because it takes a little time for the chemicals to break apart the bonds holding the dead skin cells. On the other hand, using a physical exfoliant, such as a scrub, offers much faster results that some will prefer. 

So, whichever method you choose to gain that beautiful smooth skin, exfoliating is a must. Contact our skin specialists to discuss the correct method and what products to use for your skin type.

Recommended Products

The Priori 2xfoliant Peel and Scrub is both a physical and chemical exfoliant. Simply use as a scrub or leave on the skin as a mask and let the AHAs get to work!

The Thalgo Revitalising Marine Scrub is the perfect luxurious physical exfoliator. With its creamy and soothing texture due to Chondrus crispus red algae, this scrub delicately exfoliates the skin. Feeling smooth and toned, the skin is ideally prepared for the application of skincare products.