Like all living things, our skin cells (aka keratinocytes) go through a life cycle. And when these cells die, they shed. While they eventually fall off on their own, the natural process can take too long, resulting in a buildup causing rough and dry skin and even breakouts. Exfoliation can speed up shedding to prevent excessive dead skin cell accumulation, so it’s imperative to do it regularly. There are two types of exfoliants: physical and chemical.
Physical exfoliants like loofas or scrubs like our Exfoliating D.I.Y. Face Scrub use friction to break down dead skin cells found on the surface of our skin. When choosing a physical exfoliant, take the Goldilocks approach: not so strong that it will cause irritation, dryness or breakouts, but not so weak that it doesn’t exfoliate. Just right!
Chemical exfoliants, on the other hand, are substances that break down bonds between dead skin cells that hold them together and keep them attached to the lower layers of the skin. Once these bonds are broken, the keratinocytes (don’t forget our biology lesson earlier) can fall off easily. While some chemical exfoliants break down bonds found between dead skin cells only on the surface of skin, salicylic acid, which is the base ingredient for our Revitalizing Daily Face Wash, can break down keratinocyte bonds found both on the surface of skin and deep inside pores.
Now, which is better, physical or chemical? You should use them both (one more reason why our Revitalizing Daily Face Wash + Exfoliating D.I.Y. Face Scrub are the perfect pair). Board Certified Dermatologist Dr. Milton R. Moore says he doesn’t prefer one method over the other because “they work synergistically together.” By reducing dead skin cell buildup, “exfoliation helps other products to work better,” notes Dr. Moore. “It becomes easier for other skincare products to penetrate the epidermis and dermis, making them more effective.”