THE LAB REPORT™
Chemical vs. Physical Exfoliation – Which One is Better?
RAYYAN, BEAUTY EDITOR | DECEMBER 2, 2020
Not all exfoliants are created equally. If you’ve been building your skincare regimen for over a decade then you probably recall the obsession with certain face scrubs that use “natural fruits” to physically remove the top layer of your skin. So much so, that it may have encouraged you to scrub daily.
As with most knowledge, especially in the beauty world, we now know that proper exfoliation is dependent on a list of factors, starting with skin type and concern.
Both chemical and physical exfoliants serve unique purposes and can yield incredible results once done correctly and with the right products and ingredients. Before we get down and dirty, pun intended, in the details of scrubbing, let’s start with the basics.
DO WE HAVE CHEMISTRY?
A very common question asked when starting to expand your skincare routine is: what is a chemical exfoliant? To break it down simply, Chemical exfoliants are acids that remove dead skin cells. These acids promote the breakdown of the top layer of skin and as it sheds, reveals regenerated skin cells. The outcome of chemical exfoliants is even, smoother skin, and the visible reduction of fine lines and pores.
There are two key types of chemical exfoliants.
ALPHA HYDROXY ACIDS (AHAs)
The most commonly known AHAs are Lactic Acid and Glycolic Acid, which can occur in natural and synthetic ingredients. Because AHAs dissolve in water, they work on the surface of the skin to notably improve texture.
BETA HYDROXY ACIDS (BHAs)
BHAs, on the other hand, are oil-soluble so can penetrate your pores as well as work on the surface of the skin. The most commonly known BHAs are Salicylic Acid and Tropic Acid.
On a professional scale, AHAs and BHAs are used at very high levels in order to treat concerns like hyperpigmentation and signs of aging. However, implementing a chemical exfoliant at home requires a more manageable level to reduce irritation. The recommended concentration level of AHAs is 10% while BHAs should be 2%, which delivers professional results when done properly.
The Non-Negotiables® Multi-Acid Resurfacing Pads are formulated with these recommended concentration levels for the ultimate at-home professional chemical peel. The Multi-Acid Resurfacing Pads can be used 2-3 times a week to start and on non-sensitive skins, it can be used more frequently with daily usage being acceptable for those with specific goals in mind. You will just want to ensure you are protecting your skin with a daily SPF of 30 as these professional pads do increase sun sensitivity and the risk of sunburn. These pads utilize 10% Glycolic Acid, 2% Salicylic Acid, and two soothing Oat Extracts to lower the risk of irritation, making them ideal for even the most sensitive skins.
OKAY, LET’S GET PHYSICAL.
On the other side of exfoliation, we have the physical exfoliants and as the name suggests, physical exfoliants often contain tiny, coarse particles that aid in the manual removal of dead skin cells. These particles use physical friction to loosen the top layer of the skin, and because of the action of (gently) rubbing or scrubbing, physical exfoliants can also help to promote blood circulation, reduce puffiness, and may help with lymph drainage.
As with any type of treatment product, moderation is key. Excessive scrubbing can damage the barrier of the skin which actually serves the function of protecting our skin from environmental factors. And not exfoliating at all may cause excess oil build-up or lackluster, dehydrated skin.
Our cult-favorite treatment, the DermAppeal® Microdermabrasion Treatment, is formulated with naturally occurring minerals from the Dead Sea and 5 forms of Vitamin C crystals that provide all the benefits of professional microdermabrasion treatment in the comfort of your home.
THE POWER COUPLE
One of the biggest skincare misconceptions is that you have to pick and choose when it comes to exfoliation. The truth is, you can actually implement both a chemical and physical exfoliant in your routine, and in fact we recommend you do! Using a chemical exfoliant 2-3 times per week and a physical exfoliant 2-3 times per week on alternating days or in the morning and night for those with non-sensitive skin is a great way to promote cell turnover while accelerating your results.
The benefits of pairing together the Multi-Acid Resurfacing Pads and DermAppeal, is that you get the immediate result of rejuvenated, youthful, and healthy glowing skin. Long term, these treatments can result in the reduction of fine lines and wrinkles, improved tone and texture, diminished pores, reduced hyperpigmentation, or decreased challenges with discolorations.
In truth, neither a chemical or physical exfoliant is better than the other but together, they can truly work wonders on your skin!