Exfoliating is an important step in any skincare routine, but with so many options out there, it can be hard to know what’s right for you. One debate that has been raging in the beauty world for years is the battle between physical and chemical exfoliants. While physical exfoliants have been maligned in recent years, experts say they may not be as bad as they’re made out to be.
Physical vs Chemical Exfoliants: The Basics
Physical exfoliants work by physically scrubbing away dead skin cells, while chemical exfoliants dissolve them with ingredients like alpha-hydroxy acids (AHAs) and beta-hydroxy acids (BHAs). Both types of exfoliants can be effective, but which one is right for you depends on your skin type.
According to Dr. Shari Marchbein, a board-certified dermatologist based in New York City, those with sensitive skin should opt for chemical exfoliants as they involve less external touching of the skin. However, there are still some physical exfoliants that can work for sensitive skin types, such as polishing powders that contain gentle physical exfoliants like rice grains and oat, along with antioxidants like vitamin E or green tea.
The Importance of Proper Use and Frequency
No matter which type of exfoliant you choose, it’s important to use it properly and not overdo it. Over-exfoliating can cause irritation and damage to the skin barrier, leading to dryness, redness, and even breakouts. Dermatologists recommend exfoliating no more than once or twice a week, depending on your skin’s sensitivity.
It’s also important to be mindful of how you’re using your exfoliant. Polishing powders, for example, can be customized by adding more or less water to adjust the level of exfoliation. And if you’re using both physical and chemical exfoliants, it’s best to rotate them and not use them on the same day to avoid irritation.
Finding the Right Exfoliant for Your Skin Type
Ultimately, the key to finding the right exfoliant for your skin type is trial and error. Everyone’s skin is different, so what works for one person may not work for another. When trying out new exfoliants, start with a patch test to make sure you don’t have an adverse reaction, and then gradually incorporate it into your routine.
Some popular physical exfoliants include sugar scrubs, microbead-free scrubs, and konjac sponges. Popular chemical exfoliants include AHAs like glycolic acid and lactic acid, and BHAs like salicylic acid.
Whichever exfoliant you choose, be sure to follow it up with a moisturizer and sunscreen to protect your freshly exfoliated skin from further damage.
In conclusion, whether you prefer physical or chemical exfoliants, it’s important to choose the right one for your skin type, use it properly, and not overdo it. With the right exfoliant, you can achieve smoother, brighter, and more even-toned skin. Sure, based on my research, here are some frequently asked questions (FAQs) and their corresponding answers that provide more information about the entities mentioned in the content:
Frequently Asked Questions
Who is Dr. Garshick and what are her credentials?Dr. Marisa Garshick is a board-certified dermatologist and the founder of MDCS Dermatology in New York City. She received her medical degree from Yale School of Medicine and completed her residency in dermatology at Cornell-New York Presbyterian Hospital. Dr. Garshick is also a Clinical Assistant Professor of Dermatology at Cornell University and has been featured as a skincare expert in various media outlets.
What are physical exfoliants and how do they work?Physical exfoliants are skincare products that contain small particles, such as grains or beads, that physically scrub away dead skin cells and impurities from the surface of the skin. They work by physically buffing away the top layer of the skin to reveal brighter, smoother skin underneath.
What are chemical exfoliants and how do they differ from physical exfoliants?Chemical exfoliants are skincare products that use acids, such as alpha-hydroxy acids (AHAs) or beta-hydroxy acids (BHAs), to dissolve the bonds between dead skin cells and the skin’s surface. They work by breaking down the dead skin cells and encouraging cell turnover, which can lead to smoother, brighter skin. Unlike physical exfoliants, chemical exfoliants do not involve any physical scrubbing of the skin and can be gentler on sensitive skin.
What are polishing powders and are they safe for all skin types?Polishing powders are a type of physical exfoliant that contain fine particles, such as rice grains or oat, along with other ingredients like antioxidants, to gently buff away dead skin cells and impurities. They are generally considered to be a gentler way to exfoliate and can be customized by adjusting the amount of water added to create a thinner or more texturized paste. However, as with any skincare product, it is important to patch test before use and to avoid using if any irritation occurs. Those with sensitive skin may want to avoid using physical exfoliants altogether and opt for chemical exfoliants instead.