Chemical vs Mechanical Exfoliants: What you need to know!

If you want clearer, less textured, brighter and even looking skin, you need to be adding an exfoliant into your skincare routine. Your skin naturally turns over new skin every 28 days on average. And as you age, that skin renewal rate slows down, contributing to a less radiant and bright complexion. 

What you can do to help speed up your skin's renewal process is to exfoliate with a chemical or mechanical exfoliant.

What's the difference?

  • Chemical exfoliators help break up and loosen dead skin on a deeper cellular level. You may know them as BHAs (e.g., salicylic acid) or AHAs (e.g., glycolic and lactic acid). 

  • Mechanical exfoliators physically slough away the top surface of dead skin, usually with the help of a fine scrub or a dermaplane. 

So how do you decide which exfoliator is best for you? First, let's determine your skin type.

Do you have acne prone skin? Those with acne tend to turnover new skin at a slower rate, resulting in dead skin build up on the epidermis and leading to clogged pores and breakouts. 

For acne prone skin, a chemical exfoliator is preferred to really help loosen up the dead skin that is clogging deep in your pores. We like Grown Alchemist's Blemish Treatment Gel, made with salicylic acid and white willow bark extract to help treat breakouts and congested skin. 

For aging/mature skin types, we recommend The Grey's Exfoliating Toning Pads as they're made with glycolic acid to help visibly softening the signs of aging, particularly from sun damage. It's also made with retinol, a skin-restoring, wrinkle-smoothing, and firming ingredient.

For normal skin types, opt for an AHA like Monastery's XX Rose Glycolic Gel as it's made with a rose water base to help soothe and hydrate your skin. The glycolic acid in it helps diminish the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. 

For sensitive skin, exfoliators may irritate you more than you'd like. Look for exfoliators that are made with simple, gentle ingredients, formulated for sensitive skin such as Haeckel's Refining Facial Powder Mask. This physical exfoliator is made with super fine zeolite and seaweed powder to help remove dead skin and draw out impurities while maintaining moisture levels.

For oily/combination skin, try LESSE's Refining Face Cleanser. It's made with micro-fine apricot and in a sparse amount that is much gentler than most common exfoliants. It's also a cleanser to help wash away excess sebum and dead skin.

Bottom line: Make sure exfoliators - whether they're chemical or mechanical - are part of your skincare routine to help slough away and breakdown dead skin, minimize the appearance of fine lines, and brighten up your complexion. Start out with an exfoliator once a week and work with your skin type.

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