Physical exfoliation and chemical exfoliation are two methods of removing dead skin cells and improving the overall texture and appearance of the skin. While both techniques can be effective, they work in different ways and can have different effects on the skin. Physical exfoliation involves using a physical tool or product to physically scrub away dead skin cells. This can be done using a scrub, a brush, a sponge, or even a towel. The friction from the tool helps to loosen and remove the dead skin cells, leaving the skin looking smoother and more radiant. Chemical exfoliation, on the other hand, uses chemicals to break down the bonds between dead skin cells, allowing them to be easily washed away. This can be done with a variety of different chemicals, including alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs), beta hydroxy acids (BHAs), and enzymes. AHAs such as glycolic and lactic acids, are exfoliating agents that disrupt the bonds between dead skin cells, naturally lifting them off the epidermis. BHAs can penetrate the skin’s sebum to exfoliate the pore lining. This makes them particularly effective on blemish-prone skin as they help regulate sebum-production. Physical exfoliation is only effective on the surface of the skin, while chemical exfoliation can penetrate deeper into the pores to remove impurities and dead skin cells. This means that chemical exfoliation can be more effective at treating clogged pores and other skin issues, while physical exfoliation is better for improving the overall texture and appearance of the skin.
Another difference is the potential for irritation. Physical exfoliation can be quite harsh on the skin, especially if the tool or product is not used gently. This can lead to redness, sensitivity, and even damage to the skin. Chemical exfoliation, on the other hand, is generally gentler and less likely to cause irritation.