Physical vs. Chemical Exfoliation Explained – Part 1

Last week I talked about incorporating healthy skin care habits into your 2020 self-care routine and stressed the importance of cleansing. This week I’ll go a step further by introducing you to another crucial step in maintaining skin health: exfoliation. I grew up peeking into my older sister’s cosmetic cabinet and one item in particular always seemed to pique my curiosity: the classic St. Ives Apricot Scrub. The concept of putting something gritty on my face really puzzled me at the time. Luckily, my skincare knowledge has developed considerably and I’ve come to realize what an important role this step plays in my routine. In a perfect world, exfoliation should happen twice a week but if you’re anything like me, life gets crazy and I’m doing well to do it once.

To avoid overloading you with the information I’ll be splitting this series into two parts. Exfoliants are typically seen in two forms: physical or chemical. I try to incorporate both into my routine as they each have different benefits, but today I’ll just be talking about physical exfoliants. Physical Exfoliation aids in skin cell turnover through the use of facial scrubs, dry brushes, or a scalpel. Facial scrubs tend to be the most common and paying attention to the ingredients in these products is a must – you want to make sure the grains aren’t too large. Try to avoid large ingredients like fruit pits and nut shells since these can cause micro-tears in the skin. But don’t toss your St. Ives scrub in the trash just yet! Try using it on the rest of your body. Our arms and legs need some TLC as well and our skin in these areas can handle more grit than the skin on our face can.

A great alternative for a facial scrub is the Visual Changes Microdermabrasion Crème ($52). The name can seem intimidating but it’s a hero product for sure and is perfect for at-home exfoliation. The micro-fine crystals are tiny enough not to irritate or damage the skin, but powerful enough to get the job done. You also get a lot of bang for your buck with this one – a little goes a long way due to the crystals’ ability not to break down, so once you’re done scrubbing your face bring it down onto your neck and chest for additional exfoliation.

If you’re prone to clogged pores, monthly professional exfoliation treatments are also something to consider. Requesting Microdermabrasion or a Dermablade during a facial service can dramatically improve skin texture and give your face an overall glow. If you’re new to exfoliating, think of it like sanding a piece of wood before priming it. We need to get that top layer of dead skin off so that our skin is ready for the next step!

On the menu for next week: Chemical Exfoliation. Have a great week, everyone!

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