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Mechanical vs. Chemical Exfoliation – What Is The Difference ?

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Chemical Exfoliation - Exfoliation
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Mechanical vs. Chemical Exfoliation – What Is The Difference?

Exfoliation is a natural process of healthy skin, where the body sheds dead skin cells, allowing new, fresh skin to be revealed beneath. Surface layers of skin naturally go through a near-constant process of shedding and renewal, but sometimes this can result in unevenness or may happen slower than we’d like. Skincare products can help speed up that process up.

Regular skin exfoliation is key to healthy skin and is essential in any good skincare routine. Exfoliation helps to slough off dead skin cells that can clog up the pores and contribute to breakouts and dull, flaky skin.

While exfoliation should always be simple, it can seem a little complicated when you’re faced with all the endless options out there.

That’s why we have decided to write this blog for you, to help you make the best decision for your skin.

Is it necessary to exfoliate ?

The process of exfoliation is a means to remove all the built-up dead skin cells and plug-mucus from the surface of your skin, making way for a fresh start for the healthy cells underneath. Without exfoliation, that layer of dead skin cells can leave your skin looking dull, dry, and flaky. When done properly, exfoliating leaves your skin looking younger and more glowing. In addition, exfoliating regularly can help ensure that your topical skin care products like serums and moisturisers are able to penetrate the skin more effectively.

Benefits of skin exfoliation

  • It removes pigment-containing skin cells to fade age spots.
  • It unclogs pores, improving the release of natural moisturising oils.
  • It reduces the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.
  • It improves the absorption of skincare products
  • It minimizes the appearance of pores and scars in the upper layers of skin.
  • It helps reduce the frequency and severity of breakouts by unclogging pores.

There are two main forms of exfoliation to help your skin through this process: mechanical exfoliation (also known as physical) and chemical exfoliation.

Types of skin exfoliation – Mechanical and Chemical

We have available two types of skin exfoliators: chemical and mechanical. The main goal of both types of exfoliation is to reveal new, fresh skin cells beneath the upper surface of the skin. The difference is in the way of how they work – the process of exfoliation.

Chemical exfoliators are solutions that are slightly more acidic than the skin, allowing them to gently loosen dead skin cells from living ones.

Mechanical exfoliation, on the other hand, involves utilising exfoliating substances to slough off the top layer of skin.

Mechanical exfoliation

Mechanical (physical) exfoliation uses a physical ingredient to remove the layer of skin cells and debris. While mechanical exfoliation can have many of the benefits for skin that chemical exfoliation does, you have to be careful about the tools you may choose to use.

You need to make sure that the exfoliating agents aren’t too large and would be profitable for the nature of they would be soluble (we always think about what is best not only for our skin but as well for nature :)). Larger, sharper ingredients tend to cause micro-tears, tiny little grooves and tears in your skin, actually causing a rough appearance on a microscopic level.

Too much scrubbing can leave your skin irritated and raw. That means it’s more susceptible to infection.

Chemical Exfoliation

This process is using chemicals to remove the dead skin cells by aiding cellular turnover. If you’ve ever visited our Skin Clinic in London or another beauty place and had chemical peels, then you’ve experienced this process up close and personal.

Chemical exfoliants aren’t unnatural, but rather rely on natural chemical acids from fruit enzymes such as papaya or pineapple to work at a deeper level to stimulate cellular turnover, clearing out the pores and leaving skin radiant.

There are two types of chemical exfoliants, namely AHAs (alpha-hydroxy acids) and BHAs (beta hydroxy acids) – you can find more information about those two types in our article.

AHA’s are derived from natural substances and are great at separating the dead skin cells, allowing them to break up and slough off easier, but they don’t penetrate very deeply into the pores. That’s because they’re water soluble. They’re especially great if you’re concerned about sun damage, uneven texture and pigmentation.

BHA’s are oil-soluble and allowing them to penetrate deeper into your skin. They’re ideal for acne-prone, oily skin because not only can they reach deep down into your skin, but they also have great anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties. They include salicylic acid.

Tip from our Skin Expert – before starting any chemical exfoliant regimen, make sure to add sun protection to your routine. Freshly exfoliated skin is more sensitive to sun exposure, so sunburns are much more likely – and sun damage can be difficult to reverse!

Chemical and mechanical exfoliants can have many fantastic skincare benefits. In fact, there are many people who feel their skincare routines would be incomplete without them.

Remember: everyone’s skin is different and it can take time to find a skincare routine or exfoliating product that will work best for you. Take your skin type into consideration, and make sure you purchase products that match your skincare goals.


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