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Manual vs Chemical Exfoliation: Which is better?

Manual vs Chemical Exfoliation: Which is better?

Although your skin naturally regenerates itself in a 28-day cycle, factors like dry air, indoor heating and age can cause the process to slow down and become less efficient. As a result, dead skin cells hang around much longer and cause your complexion to become dull and lifeless.

Exfoliation, which is the removal of the oldest layer of dry/dead skin cells from the top of your skin to make room for new ones to come in, is the key to improving skin texture and tone for a healthy, radiant glow.

Regular exfoliation should be an essential step in every skincare regimen, and here’s why:

✔️ It unclogs pores and allows the release of natural skin oils.

✔️ It fades age spots by removing dead skin cells containing the pigment.

✔️ It makes fine lines and wrinkles look less visible because the newly exposed skin can reflect light better.

✔️ It allows better absorption of products.

✔️ It boosts circulation and lymphatic drainage.

✔️ It stimulates collagen synthesis and keeps the skin looking youthful and plump.

There are two ways of exfoliation: manual and chemical, and we are here to give you the lowdown on each so you can figure out which one is better suited for your skincare needs.

What is manual exfoliation?

Manual exfoliation (also known as physical exfoliation) involves tiny grains to physically scrub your skin for quick results. The low-friction massaging action helps to stimulate blood circulation and reduce facial puffiness. The best part? The results are instant and the ingredients will not interact with your other skincare products.

LEAHLANI SKINCARE
Honey Love

This honey mask contains microdermabrasion crystals that will gently yet effectively exfoliate the skin, dramatically improving the tone and texture of your skin while stimulating cellular renewal.

MALAYA ORGANICS
Herbal Facial Polish

This exfoliation and cleanser in one contains soothing oat and rice powders to help slough off dead skin cells and reduce inflammation.

OKOKO COSMÉTIQUES
La D’Tox Noire

This multitasking cleansing mask clay is able to remove impurities, exfoliate, and reveal radiant skin. 

A word of caution: Remember the St. Ives Apricot Scrub lawsuit? Avoid any products with nutshells or fruit pits that can irritate skin. Being too rough or heavy-handed with your manual exfoliation can tear and damage the protective layer and expose your skin to harmful bacteria. So go gentle on yourself!

What is chemical exfoliation?

Chemical exfoliation involves gentle acids in low percentages to remove dead skin cells off your face, most commonly featuring Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHAs) or Beta Hydroxy Acids (BHAs). It requires no scrubbing but works deeper than a manual exfoliation, helping to combat signs of aging.

INDIE LEE
Gentle Daily Peel

This gentle exfoliating treatment features both Wintergreen-derived BHAs and Caviar Lime-derived AHAs to promote a clearer complexion.

LIVE BOTANICAL
Illuminating Exfoliating Serum

This oil-free, multi-layered serum uses plant-based lactic acid to exfoliate and improve the skin’s natural moisturizing factor.

FREE + TRUE SKINCARE
Moment of Clarity

This refreshing toner contains a 6% concentration of Alpha Hydroxy Acids to renew, refresh, and clarify the skin.

Which one is better?

According to board-certified dermatologist and creator of GOLDFADEN MD Gary Goldfaden, acne-prone and highly sensitive skin responds very well to chemical exfoliants as a rule of thumb, as they are less likely to cause irritation. 

You can use both a manual and chemical exfoliant in your routine to benefit from both, but alternate days to avoid over-exfoliation!

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