Exfoliation 101: Physical vs Chemical

Posted on April 14, 2020 by Dr. Blume in Chemical Peels

We all know that exfoliating the skin is something we should be doing for skin health, but figuring out the frequency, method and techniques can be overwhelming. There are so many benefits to exfoliation other than just achieving that instant soft glow. It can help with acne, aging and several different medical skin conditions. The skin has a natural exfoliation process where it sheds dead skin cells every 30 days. This process slows down as we age resulting in a dry, dull and rough textured complexion that can lead to clogged pores. Chemical and physical exfoliation are the two forms we can use to attain healthy cell regeneration, so let’s break down the difference!

When people think of exfoliating, the most common form would be mechanical or physical. This would be in the form of a facial scrub that you could use at home or from a device or treatment that you can receive here at Blume Skin & Body. Make sure you use medical grade skincare, or you could be doing more harm than good with products containing harsh or jagged beads that create tiny micro-tears in the skin.  My two favorite products that we carry for this purpose are Exfoliating Polish from ZO Medical and Valmont’s Face Scrub. Both products could be used 1-3 times a week depending on skin sensitivity. A product I like to use every day is the ZO Exfoliation Cleanser because it contains gentle jojoba beads and vitamin E that is calming enough to use daily.  For even greater results, we offer medical grade facials and treatments like microdermabrasion and epidermal leveling that should ideally be done monthly and is customized to your skins needs by your Aesthetician.

Chemical exfoliation is a method that uses different acids and enzymes to dissolve dead skin cells. Think of this like the 1980s Pac-Man game where the dots being eaten are the dry dull skin cells and Pac-man being the acid or enzyme. Alpha hydroxy acids (AHA’s) like Glycolic and Beta hydroxy acids (BHA’s) like Salicylic are used in both medical grade skincare and professional grade chemical peels. These acids exfoliate in different ways, making the combination of both safe to use together. AHA’s cause the cells to detach from the epidermis, which is best for dry skin types and has anti-aging benefits. BHA’s penetrate deeper to dissolve excess oil build up making this a great option for combination and oily skin types. Fruit enzymes like bromelain (pineapple!) are often used in skincare which is perfect for sensitive skin. You will see amazing results from using a combination of these ingredients consistently.

All these methods are a fantastic way to get your exfoliating fix. Consulting with your Aesthetician is key to achieving your best skin yet. Whether it’s a daily product regimen or an in-office treatment plan we have you covered here at Blume Skin & Body.


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