People who are into skincare and beauty know that exfoliating your skin regularly is one of the most important things you need to do to your face to make it look younger, healthier, and more vibrant.
For this reason, there are a large number of exfoliant options present on the market that are suitable for different types of skin. Broadly speaking, the two different types of exfoliants can be classified into chemical exfoliants or physical exfoliants, also known as scrubs.
But is a chemical exfoliant better than a scrub exfoliant? In this article, we will discuss what constitutes an exfoliant and the various features and major differences between the two.
What is Exfoliation?
Your skin replenishes itself every few days. It is interesting to notice that most of the dust that you see in your room is made up of dead skin cells coming off from your body.
However, sometimes the dead skin on the top layer of your skin might not completely come off. This is especially true of your facial skin if you wear makeup or other cosmetics.
For this reason, there are solutions that assist in removing the top dead layer of your skin effectively. The process of removing these dead skin cells is called exfoliation.
Why is Exfoliation Important?
If the dead cells from the surface of your skin are not removed, they can cause a variety of problems.
Flaky skin: Especially in winter, you might have seen your skin develop flakes that chip off, resulting from dryness. This is because the dead skin cells have not been removed.
Dullness: Your actual skin is a shade brighter than the dead skin on its surface. If you do not exfoliate, this dead skin is more visible, giving your face a less bright appearance.
Effectiveness of other products: If you’re using cosmetics, moisturizers, or other products on your skin, they will be absorbed by your skin more effectively if there is not a layer of dead skin in the way. Exfoliation increases the effectiveness of these products.
Pores: Not removing the layer of dead skin from the top layer of skin can cause your pores to get blocked. This can cause additional problems when you sweat, which is another reason why exfoliation is important.
Breakouts and acne: Leaving your dead skin on your face and body can cause impurities to build up on your skin and in your pores. This can cause breakouts, pimples, acne, and other skin-related problems. Exfoliation removes the top layer of the skin, giving you clean and healthy skin that is less likely to get affected by such problems. You can read up more about this in this article on what causes acne.
Collagen production: Collagen is naturally produced in your body. It is the substance that increases the elasticity of your skin. As you age, natural collagen production in your body is reduced, causing wrinkles to form on your skin. Exfoliating regularly can help promote the growth of collagen in your skin.
How Often Should You Exfoliate?
There is no specific number of times per week that you should exfoliate, as it depends on the type of your skin and your goals for your skin. You can easily over or under exfoliate your skin if you do not understand how exfoliation works for your specific requirements.
If you have dry or sensitive skin, you can exfoliate once or twice per week. Undertaking this procedure more often than this might cause damage to your skin, including dryness and increased sensitivity.
If your skin is oily and prone to breakouts and acne, you would benefit best from exfoliating twice or thrice per week. Exfoliating just once a week will not be enough for this type of skin, as it will not completely prevent the buildup of impurities and clogged pores.
For combination skin, exfoliating twice or thrice a week is recommended. People with combination skin generally have it slightly easier, as they do not have to deal with the adverse effects of under or over-exfoliation.
If you’re slightly older and have mature skin, you should exfoliate twice per week. If this is causing sensitivity, dryness, or irritation in your skin, you should reduce the frequency.
Now that you know about exfoliation and how often you should exfoliate, it is time to talk about chemical and physical exfoliating agents. Is a chemical exfoliant better than a scrub exfoliant for you?
What is a Chemical Exfoliant?
A chemical exfoliant is a solution that uses chemicals to remove impurities and dead skin cells from the surface of your skin. Though this might sound dangerous, chemical exfoliants are harmless to your skin if used in the right amounts.
Chemical exfoliators generally have a very small, diluted amount of acid present in them. This acid causes the dead skin cells to dislodge from your skin and get washed away, revealing the clean, bright, and new skin underneath.
Many acids are present in chemical exfoliants, including glycolic acid, lactic acid, malic acid, and mandelic acid. Salicylic acid is also used as a component in these exfoliants.
Chemical exfoliants come in a large range of acid quantities and concentrations. This means that you can choose exactly how strong you want your exfoliant to be based on the type of your skin.
What is a Scrub Exfoliant?
A scrub exfoliant is a cream with tiny particles of exfoliants in it. You can use this to scrub your skin, making it remove all the debris and dead skin. With scrub exfoliants, you get instant results, as washing it off removes the dead skin with it.
Besides this, using a scrub exfoliant also means that your face gets a massage while you’re applying it. This helps promote healthy blood flow to your skin, making it look brighter and giving it a nicer complexion.
Like chemical exfoliants, physical exfoliants come in different strengths as well, but their strength is determined by the particle sizes present in them. The grain texture of the exfoliant will be an important character you need to keep in mind, especially if you have sensitive skin.
Advantages of Chemical Exfoliation
Chemical exfoliation comes with a lot of benefits if you do not want to use a scrub exfoliant. Some advantages of these types of skin cleaners are mentioned below.
Breakdown: Chemical exfoliants have small quantities of acid in them that break down the dead cells and impurities on your face. While scrub exfoliants can cause damage if scrubbed too hard, there is no such danger with chemical exfoliants.
Single swipe action: Since putting and leaving on a chemical exfoliant already treats your skin because of the components, you do not have to wash it off with a lot of water or massage your face with it. With a single swipe of a pad, you can get glowing and brighter-looking skin.
For damage-prone skin: If your skin scars easily, the gentle action of a chemical exfoliant is probably the best choice for you. Using a scrub might cause your skin to get damaged because of the grain particles in it. If you have dry skin, a low concentration chemical exfoliant with alpha-hydroxy acids can be a good fit for you.
Lightening: If you’re looking for lighter skin to reverse sun damage and other problems, physical exfoliators might not work as well as chemical ones. Dark spots and other imperfections on your face can be more easily removed with the help of this type of exfoliant.
Advantages of Scrub Exfoliation
Scrub exfoliation or physical exfoliation comes with its own share of advantages and benefits. Some of these benefits are mentioned below.
No reactions: While chemical exfoliators are known for interacting with your skin cells to improve your skin texture and appearance, this is not the case with scrub exfoliators. If you’re allergic or extra sensitive to any material in a chemical exfoliator, you might end up damaging your skin. This is not a problem with physical exfoliating agents.
Even skin tone: Because you’re using the scrub all over your face and massaging it at the same time, the grain in the scrub will cause your skin to become more even, taking care of discolorations and imperfections over long-term use.
Pores: Because a scrub exfoliation involves rubbing tiny grains on your face for cleansing, it will more thoroughly clean out your pores, giving you healthier skin which will be less likely to trap impurities and cause other skin conditions.
Acne: Because scrub exfoliants are better at cleaning out your pores, these skincare products will ensure that you do not suffer from breakouts, pimples, and acne if used properly. Make sure that you do not get a bigger grain or use them more than a few times a week based on the type of skin you have, as this might cause your skin to get damaged and open it up to more impurities.
Other skincare products: As mentioned earlier, other skincare products that you use can have different effects based on different types of exfoliation. With scrub exfoliants, you effectively remove the top layer of dead skin from your face. This lets your other skincare products go deeper into the pores and get absorbed by your skin, increasing their benefits for you.
Increasing circulation: Unlike chemical exfoliants, scrub exfoliants expect you to rub it into your face for the active ingredients to be more effective. This means that your face has to be massaged in the process, which improves the circulation of blood and gives you brighter skin.
Cell turnover: With this type of exfoliation, your dead skin cells are more easily and effectively removed. This means that the production of new cells is improved, resulting in the top layers of skin looking better.
Which Exfoliant Should I Use?
Choosing between a chemical exfoliant and a scrub exfoliant can be a difficult task, especially if you’re a beginner and you do not know how these products work.
If you have combination skin that will not be easily affected by the chemicals present in chemical exfoliators or the scrubbing action of physical exfoliators, you have the freedom to go for either of these options.
If you have dry skin, you should go for chemical exfoliators with low acid content. This will ensure that the acid does not react with your skin and cause more damage than good. If it works properly, you can gradually work your way up.
For dry or sensitive skin, you can choose a scrub exfoliator with tiny grains in it. If a scrub has particles like fruit pits or nut shells (walnut shell, for example), these can cause damage to your skin in the form of micro-tears. This damages your skin in the long term and can cause premature lines, redness, and uneven texture.
If you have oily skin, you will need to exfoliate with a higher concentration of acid in your chemical exfoliators. This is because oily skin is harder to clean than dry skin, and a stronger option will give you better results.
Similarly, with scrub exfoliators, people with oily skin can choose to have a grain of higher sizes. This will ensure that their skin is cleaned properly. However, you should always ensure that you do not scratch or scrub your face too hard, as this can cause damage.
Your skin is an important part of your body, and you should be taking care of it properly. Exfoliating is an excellent way to make sure that the dead skin on your body is removed, giving you a more lively appearance and preventing impurities from building up on the surface of your body.
In this article, we learned about how exfoliation works and the benefits to your skin. We also learned about how many times you should exfoliate your skin every week based on your skin type. We learned about chemical and scrub exfoliants, and the advantages and disadvantages of both based on your skin type. If you’re interested in similar topics, please feel free to check out our other articles as well!