Physical vs chemical exfoliation: which one is right for you? - Bees & Trees

Skin exfoliation is one of the best ways to have soft and healthy skin. Traditionally, exfoliators have been in the form of scrubs (physical exfoliation) and because of this, many DIY ‘recipes’ for sugar or coffee scrubs have been born (which we do not suggest for reasons that we will explain later below).

However, now there are different ways of exfoliating depending on the skin type and the problem you want to target.

What is skin exfoliation?

Skin exfoliation is the process of removing dead skin cells from the surface of the skin. Skin cells have a certain cycle and at the end of this life cycle they migrate to the surface (on the outermost layer called ‘stratum corneum’) losing their membrane and therefore their function (that’s why they are called ‘dead cells’). However, various factors, internal and external, such as: the sun, air pollution, lifestyle, stress or malnutrition, slow down the cellular renewal process, giving the skin a dull appearance; that’s when exfoliating products come in handy.

This process is done in different ways, such as: with professional equipment or for home use, scrubs, tonics or serums etc. All of these methods divide the exfoliation process into two large groups: physical exfoliation and chemical exfoliation.

Chemical vs Physical exfoliation:

Physical exfoliation is done by mechanically removing dead skin cells on the surface of the skin. This process includes gloves or abrasive pieces, various equipment and scrubs. Face scrubs are the most typical products that carry out this process. They consist of the creamy part and the abrasive part that does the exfoliation.

Physical exfoliation instantly removes your skin’s surface cells, leaving your face feeling soft and glowy even after the first use. The product you will choose to do the physical exfoliation must be gentle on the skin, not cause damage, irritation or pain. The feeling of using a scrub on the skin is very good and soothing, but you should not get carried away by it and apply more force than necessary, because you risk causing micro-cracks in the skin. Every circular motion should be done without pressure and with delicate and round particles. This is also the reason why homemade scrubs are not recommended.

Chemical exfoliation is the process of removing dead cells through certain agents called acids. Applying exfoliating acids onto the skin breaks down the ‘glue’ that keeps the dead cells attached to each other, and over time they fall away and make way for new cells.

There are different types and concentrations of acids. They are divided into two large groups: alpha hydroxy acids or AHA for short and beta hydroxy acids or BHA. AHAs work by breaking down the attachment of dead cells to the rest of the regenerated skin, thus contributing to smoother, more even-toned skin. They are suitable even for the most sensitive skin types (except for glycolic acid, which should be used carefully by sensitive skins). Whereas, BHAs work by penetrating deeper into pores and breaking down oil and dirt.

How to do chemical and physical exfoliation with Bees & Trees

You can perform physical exfoliation with the Organic Scrub. This scrub contains very fine micro-particles of cranberry, which are very gentle on the skin and also have high antioxidant properties. The creamy part contains emollients, moisturizing ingredients, nutrients and antioxidants. It has an immediate effect on the skin leaving it smooth and soft. We recommend it for all skin types.

Chemical exfoliation can be done with Organic AHA Exfoliating Toner. This exfoliating toner contains a combination of 5 AHA acids in a total concentration of 8% as well as plant extracts, soothing and moisturizing ingredients. The toner with AHA has many benefits for the skin; in addition to the process of removing dead skin cells, it: accelerates the cell turnover cycle (cellular renewal), fades hyperpigmentation and discoloration caused by UV rays or red spots post-acne, as well as helps the skin to retain moisture.

Meanwhile, chemical exfoliation with BHA can be achieved with the Foaming Cleanser with 2% Salicylic Acid (BHA) and 1% niacinamide, which breaks down fat and cleans pores deeply. It can be used every night by oily or acne prone skin.

If you are considering adding Organic AHA Exfoliating Toner to your routine, we recommend starting gradually, 1-2 times a week, and increasing the frequency of use as the skin gets used to it and as needed.

Did this article help you find out which exfoliator fits your skin best? You can try our Organic AHA Exfoliating Toner (chemical) or our Organic Scrub (physical) based on your skin needs:
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