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What's the difference between Chemical vs Physical Exfoliator?

Updated: Feb 17, 2021

Another common mistake people aren't aware of is that there are two types of exfoliators, Chemical and Physical. See images below.


Chemical exfoliators and Physical exfoliators both do the same when it comes to sloughing off the dead skin cells, smoothing the skin, and revealing brighter glowing complexion.


Chemical exfoliators can be used daily or once to four times a week; it breaks down the bonds between the skin cells and removes dead skin.


They range from having AHA, BHA, Enzymes and other acids. You can have all the ingredients mixed in one bottle. I will get into AHA and BHA in another post.


Enzymes on the other hand are mainly from fruits or vegetables, they work to break down the keratin protein of skin to create smoother skin.


Chemical exfoliators can come in different forms and formula, such as cleansers, toners, treatments, mask & moisturizers.


They can cause some skin irritation since they work deeper in the skin, I would suggest products with gentle formulas such as a cleanser. MUST read manufacturer's direction to avoid irritation with skin.


Physical exfoliators are visible to the eye - think of facial scrubs with small granules/beads that you massage and gently rub on the skin. Or when using a cleansing tool like a brush or washcloth.


Other examples of a physical exfoliator are treatments that use professional tools to remove dead skin cells like derma-planing and microdermabrasion.


Which exfoliator is good for you? You can use both, but just make sure you are not using them at the same time - alternate the product.


If you're that person who wants to see and feel instant results a physical exfoliator will be good. Otherwise, a chemical exfoliator will work over time to reveal better skin.



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