What is a physical exfoliant?
We have all likely used physical exfoliants - in body scrubs with rough textures that physically act to scrub away dead skin cells. Whilst this can be beneficial for your face, this type of exfoliation isn’t as deep acting as chemical exfoliants.
Scrubs for the face and body work by using an abrasive ingredient to physically exfoliate the skin. This works from the outside in - getting rid of dead skin cells and oil on the surface of the skin to encourage cell renewal.
What about exfoliation tools?
You can also use brushes and loofahs to physically exfoliate the skin. This works in the same way and also can stimulate circulation and cell renewal.
What is a chemical exfoliant?
Chemical exfoliants contain a combination of alpha hydroxy acids and fruit enzymes. The big difference between physical and chemical exfoliants is that while physical exfoliants work from the outside in, chemical exfoliants work from the inside out. Alpha hydroxy acids have small enough molecules to penetrate into the skin and so work to speed up the exfoliation process from the inside.
Companies such as Dermalogica offer masques that are chemical exfoliants - such as Dermalogica Gentle Cream Exfoliant. This is a smooth cream masque that is applied to skin and left on for ten to fifteen minutes. Its active ingredients include lactic acid and salicylic acid (which are AHAs) that work from the inside out to exfoliate and deeply cleanse the skin.
What is a chemical peel?
The strongest form of exfoliation are often called ‘chemical peels’. They are chemical exfoliators that are stronger than masques and go from at-home to professional options. A peel will have a high concentration of ingredients to be able to work into the deeper layers of the skin, jump-starting the cell turnover.