I am totally passionate about exfoliation, because I think exfoliation is the single-most important therapeutic skincare treatment that you can do, to get more beautiful, and healthier looking skin.
Exfoliants can be chemical exfoliants, which dissolve the dead cells off the surface, or they can be physical exfoliants which actually mechanically move the dead cells off the surface. But I far prefer chemical exfoliants, for two very important reasons. First, you get much more predictable and precise exfoliation with chemicals, and therefore more precise and predictable results, and second of all, far fewer irritations and side effects. Let’s first talk about the precision of chemical exfoliants. If you are using, a state of the art, newer chemical exfoliant, like the ones I discussed in “Update on Chemical Exfoliants”, and it is pH adjusted and buffered, then the strength of that chemical exfoliant is completely consistent within the tube, from the first application from the tube to the last. And, the amount of exfoliation that you get, the results you get, is proportional only to the strength of that acid. It has nothing to do with the amount of the product that you put on the skin, or on the amount of the time that you leave it there. So, when you put the product on the skin, regardless of how thick it is, because it is only the thin layer in contact with the surface that is doing what you want it to do. Regardless of that, or how you leave it here, because you actually want it to be absorbed into the skin, you get predictable, precise debt of exfoliation and therefore, results. However, with physical exfoliants, the debt of exfoliation that you get, whether you remove this much, or this much, depends on three things. It depends on how strongly you actually exfoliate, in other words, how strong you rub. It also depends on how long you do it, and what the actual material is that you’re using. So, you could be using a buff-puff, or a loofa, an abrasive cleanser or a scrub, microdermabrasion, or even a razor. And, depending on what you’re using, and how long you’re exfoliating for will determine how much of the dead cells you are actually removing. The harder I rub, the longer I rub, the more dead cells that come off. The other issue with chemical vs. physical exfoliants is that you get far fewer side effects with chemical exfoliants, because if you can have an irritation with a chemical, first you get a little flaking, then a little irritation, and you see it coming. You feel that something is wrong long before you get a raw, red area. You realize what is happening, and you back off, you go lighter, or you do less. But, with physical exfoliants, it seems to be that people tend to think that if a little is good, more is better. And so, it’s not that rare for them to use a lot of strength and keep rubbing, and rubbing and rubbing. The more that they rub, the better that they do, and at the end of the day, when you are done exfoliating, if your skin looks like this, then I believe you know that you’ve gone a little bit too deep, if you can see blood. And that is why I far prefer chemical exfoliants to physical exfoliants.