Exfoliation 101: Part 2 (Enzymatic, Chemical and Physical Exfoliation)

Exfoliation 101: Part 2 (Enzymatic, Chemical and Physical Exfoliation)

Hey loves, welcome back. Before I start, please make sure you read up on part one here, moving on now, let’s talk about the methods of exfoliation.

First we have the physical/mechanical method of Exfoliation.

This method involves the physical removal of dead skin cells, it involves the use of abrasive things to remove the outermost layer of the skin. Things like salt, sugar , pumice, beads, spinning brushes, cleansing cloths, grains, face sponges and even surgical blade (dermaplaning).

This really isn’t as bad as it sounds, once you find the right physical exfoliant and use the right pressure moving them around your face, you should be fine.

Whatever you use shouldn’t be too abrasive or too large that it can cause micro tears in your moisture barrier thereby resulting in moisture loss overtime.

Microdermabrasion and dermaplaning services offered by Professionals are a much more deeper and intensive way to physically exfoliate the skin and work really good.

I know a lot of people like to make diy sugar and salt scrubs, this isn’t completely bad but I generally tell people not to just because you can hurt yourself if you don’t mix it properly and anything you use isn’t clean enough. There’s risk of spreading germs.

Some of My Favorite physical exfoliating products

People with a lot of acne and sensitive skin should not do too much physical exfoliation as it can irritate the skin. There’s a lot of really gentle physical exfoliants that work amazing for sensitive or acneic skin like the Dermalogica Microfoliant, my Fav Good Science Beauty Skin-renewing polishing powder and the Farmacy New day gentle exfoliator.

Moving on to Chemical exfoliation which is my favorite.

Chemical exfoliants break the bonds that hold dead skin cells together so they can shed normally. They also help renew the skin by normalizing skin cell turnover.

Chemical exfoliants reduce the appearance of fine-lines, make skin look and feel smooth, brighten skin (improve uneven skin tone and texture).

For chemical exfoliation, we have Alpha Hydroxy acids (AHAs), Beta Hydroxy Acids (BHAs) and, Enzyme peels/exfoliants.

Enzymatic exfoliants include Bromelain (from pineapples), papain (from papaya) and Pumpkin enzyme which is the most popular of all enzymes. These enzymes are gentler than AHAs and BHAs in breaking the glue that holds dead skin cells together.

Next we have BHAs which is mostly salicylic acid (there’s 2 newer BHA one called Betaine salicylate which has very little research done on it and one called LHA : Beta-LipoHydroxy acid, this is a derivative of salicylic acid and works pretty much the same, both newer versions are even more gentle but not as researched as Salicylic acid, but in this post, we are focused on salicylic acid).

This is mostly great for people with oily acne prone skin. It is not just an exfoliant but also anti inflammatory which is why it helps acneic skin a lot.

My favorite Chemical exfoliating products in form of toners, masks, serums and peels.

BHAs not only work on your skin but travel inside your pores to clean it out thereby unclogging your pores. Salicylic acid also helps calm inflamed acne.

If you have dry skin, you can still use BHAs just not as much as someone with oily or combo skin.

My favorite bha product ever is the Paula’s choice 2% BHA liquid.

If you have oily skin, dealing with clogged pores (blackheads, whiteheads & milia ) , acne, Salicylic acid would work great for you.

Finally we have AHAs, these include glycolic acid (the most potent), lactic acid, Mandelic acid, and malic acid. Glycolic and lactic being the most common. Mandelic being the most gentle AHA.

AHAs help exfoliate the surface layer and also hydrate the skin which is why they are better for people with dry /normal/mature/aging skin.

AHAs help with sun damage and help reduce signs of premature aging.

Final notes, yes you can use both, many products are now formulated with Both AHA and BHA, some are even formulated with enzymes, AHAs and BHAs. The key is to find the right one for you and right percent strength for your skin. Start small, if you’re sensitive, start with Mandelic or 5% glycolic acid few times a week and work your way up. You can also rotate AHAs and BHAs in one day, use one morning, use one night, , or use one today and one the next day if you use acids once a day.

You can use both together in the same routine but I’d say be careful and don’t irritate your skin. I usually layer 2% BHA over 5% AHA or You can also apply BHA to your t-zone and places you get any form of clogged pores and apply AHAs everywhere else.

Exfoliating makes your skin more sensitive to sun rays so you absolutely need to use sunscreen SPF 30 up!! Exfoliating or not, sunscreen should already be a must for you.

Retinol is not an exfoliating ingredient.

Another note, some products double as physical and chemical exfoliating products, like the wow you Tropic like it’s hot scrub that has AHAs and the Urban skin rx Lactic glow that has lactic acid in it even though it’s a physical exfoliant.

Also, make sure you’re not skipping your moisturizer as that can potentially harm and dry your skin. No matter your skin type, never skin moisturizer. Remember, whatever you do for your face, take it to your neck. Your neck is also part of your face.

Thank you for reading this to the very end, I hope you now know more on exfoliation and it’s importance and the kind that is right for you. If you enjoyed this post and learnt something new, please do share with your friends and subscribe to my mailing list. If you have any questions or comments, please leave them in the comment section and I’d respond as soon as i can. You can also reach me on Instagram @SkinWithAbiola


3 thoughts on “Exfoliation 101: Part 2 (Enzymatic, Chemical and Physical Exfoliation)”

  • Thoroughly enjoyed reading this but I have a few questions about retinol products. Should one stick only to exfoliating and the rest or implement retinol into one’s skin care routine. Been wanting to give it a try but i usually get scared of anything not tagged “natural” (eg vitamin c or rosehip) my aim is to target aging and I’m trying my best to avoid anything that makes me extra sensitive to the sun. I’ve been reluctant to trying it out also because I hear that if you stop, your skin simply goes back to how it used to be before. Can I ask what you think? And which retinol budget friendly product you’ll recommend? Thank you

    • First of all, there is no such thing as natural skincare, all the natural, clean, organic names brand use is really just scam as everything is chemicals, if you properly exfoliate and use retionl, it is not going to bleach your skin or hurt your skin or worsen your skin. I think misinformation is, unfortunately, one of the things misleading us, I’d strongly suggest you make an appointment with a skincare professional so they can create a customized routine for you based on your skin type and issues.

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