Chemical vs Manual Exfoliants

Chemical vs Manual Exfoliants

As we all know, exfoliating is a crucial part of our skincare regimen.  The options are endless and it can be overwhelming to pick the correct exfoliating product for your skin.  Let's start with the basics that divide exfoliating products into two main categories: mechanical vs chemical exfoliants.  

Mechanical (physical) exfoliants are going to be things like scrubs, washcloths, or facial tools that you use to physically remove the “dead” skin off the surface.  In recent years, skincare brands have done a great job of formulating mechanical exfoliants that can be used even on sensitive/reactive skin, whereas in the past, if you had sensitive skin, you would have had to avoid mechanical exfoliants. Depending on your skin type and the specific product, these products can be used from daily to once a week.  One of our favorites here at Totality Skincare is the ZO® Skin HealthExfoliating Polish. This product has a cult following, it was the testimony of a patient that urged me to try this and I see why. It leaves your skin buttery soft and because the ultra-fine magnesium oxide crystals are so tiny, it can be used on mature/sensitive skin without a problem.  However, more tolerant skin types can incorporate this into their daily regime.  Another tried and true mechanical exfoliant is the Obagi Professional-C® Microdermabrasion Polish + Mask. This is a more aggressive exfoliant that I would recommend for my more tolerant skin types to use twice weekly.  It is great for those noticing fine lines and wrinkles.  These are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to mechanical exfoliants, remember less is more when it comes to scrubs. 

Chemical exfoliants can be found in many different formulations.  Anytime you see alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) and beta hydroxy acids (BHAs) on a label, that is indicative of a chemical exfoliant. They work to rid the skin of excess oils and dead skin cells by dissolving the “glue” that is binding them.  These actives can be found in cleansers, serums, toners, and even moisturizers.  Skincare brands have gotten good at combining these into the core products that you are already using, thus eliminating extra steps. Some common chemical exfoliants to look out for are ingredients such as Glycolic, Lactic, and Salicylic Acid. My personal, hands-down favorite chemical exfoliating product is the SkinBetter Science ® Oxygen Infusion Wash.  This is a sneaky product because the name doesn’t lead one to think this is a very active powerful treatment cleanser. It has a combination of AHA and BHA’s that exfoliate the skin at different depths to target any type of congestion and leaves you looking radiant, and at a $48 price point, it's a great entry product if you are just beginning a regimen.  It's gentle enough for daily use, but if you tend to be more reactive, this is something that you could use as your morning cleanse. I personally use it twice a day and look forward to it because it is just that awesome. Sticking with SkinBetter Science ® (I love this line because they formulate products that target many concerns rather than having a counter full of products and getting lost in what to use and how to use it), the AlphaRet line is another personal favorite of mine and the majority of staff members here at Totality.  This line of products combines a chemical exfoliant with a retinoid, a product that speeds up skin cell turnover.  This is extremely difficult because of the irritation that can be caused, but they have perfected it. There is an AlphaRet for every skin type, and it is meant to be used PM only as your anti-aging, decongesting product that will target everything from fine lines, wrinkles, pore size, acne, tone, texture, you name it, this product does it all!  It can be used nightly, but for those with more reactive skin, every other night use is great, as well.

 If you have any questions about which exfoliator is best for you, don't hesitate to reach out to our professionals via the chat option. We are always here to help!

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