Exfoliation, #teamphysical or #teamchemical?

Top: Chemical Exfoliator by Kate Somerville Exfolikate

Daily, our skin sheds skin cells in order for fresher, younger cells to push their way to the most upper skin’s surface. However, as we get older, this process which is called a ‘Turnover process’ slows down, which requires us to find new solutions to slough away the dead skin. Why? This dead skin can build up and cause various issues such as clogging of pores or dull complexion. Here comes exfoliation.

There are few ways to exfoliate, which is, physical, chemical or enzymatic. These will help unclog pores and smoothen skin’s texture. As a results, the skin appears brighter while the texture is smoother to be touch (although, you shouldn’t always touch your face in the first place tho :P). The key is to find your winning formula based on your concerns, skin type and sensitivity level.

Physical Exfoliator

One of the old school method as back in the days (till now), Koreans and Japanese will have their backs scrub at public bathhouses. Although it’s not the same as scrubbing our face but the reasoning behind it is still the same, which is to scrub away dead skin cells manually. But as our body skin is thicker than our face skin, it’s highly not recommended to do physical exfoliation (I know most of you did it since it was heavily promoted, cough St IVES cough) but it can cause irritation especially for those with sensitive or highly reactive skin types (sensitive or acne prone skin).

Chemical Exfoliator

Chemical exfoliants remove dead skin cells with the use of chemicals (duh!) to aid in cell turnover. Peels are chemical exfoliants, which are not only great for smoothing but also for brightening.

Most common types of chemical exfoliators are alpha-hydroxy acids (AHAs), beta-hydroxy acids (BHA) and poly- hydroxy acids (PHAs), which runs by combining with the lipids on the most top skin layer and dissolving them so that the dead skin cells break away. AHAs are common for light facial peels especially the natural ones like fruit acids. However, AHAs are water-soluble thus, they are unable to penetrate deep into the skin layer. Examples of AHAs are Lactic/Glycolic Acid.

BHAs, in contrast, are oil-soluble molecules which can reach deeper into the skin AND pores. BHAs have anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties and is highly recommended for those with acne-prone and oily skin. Example of BHA is Salicylic Acid.

PHAs on the other hand, is the newest buzz (not so new now as there are so many products with PHAs), which can be considered as cousins of AHAs or second-generation AHAs (like 2nd generation KPOP, get what I mean?). It works similarly like AHAs but resulting in a more even skin tone and texture and helps skincare ingredients to penetrate even deeper into the layers of the skin, therefore boosting efficiency. It also fights glycation (a process that takes place when digested sugar permanently attaches to the collagen in skin and weakens it, along with elastin levels. The most common PHAs are gluconolactone, galactose, and lactobionic acid.

To sum up the acids:

AHAs – Dry to Normal Skin (Top Surface only)
BHAs- Oily / Acne Prone Skin (Penetrates deeper into the skin)
PHAs – Sensitive (Top layer also but molecular size is the larger so it won’t disturb the skin in the lower layer)

Enzymatic Exfoliator

Enzymatic exfoliant is a milder exfoliating option and is best for sensitive skin types. Enzymes are usually taken from natural sources like fruits, and work like chemical exfoliants to break down the keratin in skin, but at a much slower pace, for a more gentle and safe turnover process. It also facilitates easy penetration of active serums into the skin during a professional enzyme exfoliation.

Enzyme exfoliation is a type of chemical exfoliation that breaks down the “glue” that holds dead, dulling skin cells together. Enzyme exfoliation works more gently than AHA chemical exfoliants to shed skin cells and speed up the skin’s natural exfoliation process. Professional enzyme exfoliation can be used instead of a surface peel to remove aging dead cells, awaken dull skin and target pores. It also facilitates easy penetration of active serums into the skin during the next step of the facial.

Have fun exfoliating and do leave your experience exfoliating on the comments section below!

An enthusiast in everything. Loves photography ✨

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