Exfoliation is something you probably hear about often, and for good reason. It is an important part of any skincare routine, as it helps to remove dead skin cells and reveal a brighter, smoother complexion. But did you know? There are actually two types of exfoliation when it comes to skincare: chemical and physical exfoliation. Understanding the difference between the two can help you choose the best exfoliation method for your skin type (and it will help you see the best results).

Chemical exfoliation uses acids or enzymes to dissolve the bonds between dead skin cells, allowing them to be easily removed. This type of exfoliation is gentler than physical exfoliation, and is often recommended for those with sensitive or dry skin. Common chemical exfoliants include alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) and beta hydroxy acids (BHAs) such as salicylic acid.

An example of a chemical exfoliant found at AN Skin is our top-selling Exfoliating Pads. While the pads can feel a tiny bit abrasive, you do not want to rub or press the pads into your skin too hard. The idea with pads is to gently apply them to your skin so the acids can do all the work. Gentle pressure is all you need as glycolic, lactic and salicylic acid get to work on your epidermis! Another exfoliant that AN Skin carries is called the Body Glow Exfoliating Cleanser which gently exfoliates the skin thanks to acids that remove dead skin cells.

Physical exfoliation, on the other hand, uses a physical tool to manually remove dead skin cells. This type of exfoliation is more abrasive than chemical exfoliation, and is often recommended for those with oily or acne-prone skin. Common physical exfoliants that you may think of right away include facial scrubs and electronic facial brushes like the Clarisonic. Facial treatments can also be a form of physical exfoliation, such as microdermabrasion.

The problem with physical exfoliation is that most people tend to overdo it and exfoliate every single day, or use tools that are too harsh for their skin barrier. Scrubs often get a bad reputation as they can contain jagged beads that damage the skin (Like St. Ives scrub - stay far away). My personal recommendation is to only perform physical exfoliation once a month if you truly feel the need! The best, fool-proof way to have it done is by a professional who can perform an exfoliating facial.

When choosing an exfoliation method, it’s important to consider your skin type and any sensitivities you may have. Chemical exfoliation is generally gentler and more suitable for those with sensitive skin, while physical exfoliation is more suitable for those with oily or acne-prone skin. Whichever method you choose, make sure to use it sparingly and follow up with a moisturizer to keep your skin hydrated.


Shop AN exfoliating pads, cleansers, and hydrating moisturizers.

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