Physical Vs Chemical Exfoliation

Physical Vs Chemical Exfoliation

Hands up who grew up thinking exfoliating meant scrubbing your skin until it was raw, and was an essential part of your skincare routine? Well, essential it may be, but there is simply no need to make your skin uncomfortable whilst doing it (put down that baking soda concoction!). To start you off on your exfoliation journey, you have just one decision to make: physical or chemical exfoliation?

Exfoliation is a key part in skincare because it removes dead skin cells from the surface. These cells dull skin, clog pores, and can even cause your face to appear flaky and rough. Not so nice! A gentle exfoliation once or twice a week means that these dead cells are tackled, leaving the fresh skin underneath to glow. As we age, our cell turnover rate slows down, leaving those dead skin cells on the surface for longer. This means exfoliation is even more important through the years!

Physical Exfoliation


If you’re new to exfoliation, the obvious choice seems to be a physical exfoliant. These have been around for decades, and use a scrubbing agent like sugar to buff away the top layer of dead skin. However, these can be too harsh for some skin types, though tolerance varies hugely, depending on what the ingredients are. One of the best things about physical exfoliants is that you’re likely to see a marked difference immediately after rinsing it off. Physical exfoliants work solely on the top layer of skin, and make a fantastic treatment option for when you need an instant fix, or have been neglecting your skincare routine for a while. Our Radiant Glow Organic Face Mask is the perfect option for this: the coconut shell powder gently polishes the skin while the other ingredients get to work on your face. Cacao helps to protect and hydrate the skin, and boosts rejuvenation and healing of skin cells - meaning a speedier cell turnover and fewer dead skin cells to start with! Combined with sweet almond oil, which moisturises skin and nourishes thanks to the high vitamin A,E, and B content, this mask is a bit of a wonder product - and it smells just heavenly!

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Option two is chemical exfoliation and we know: it sounds all kinds of scary! We promise it isn’t: it’s just a different method of removing dead skin cells, and can actually be gentler on your skin than physical exfoliants. Chemical exfoliation tends to make use of Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHAs), Beta Hydroxy Acids (BHAs), or fruit enzymes, and can penetrate deeper into the skin. This means that, while you might not see a difference straight away, these treatments work hard to produce and maintain skin that glows constantly, rather than just in the hours after a treatment. Our organic Miracle Face Mask makes use of natural AHAs from a range of sources: glycolic acid comes from sugar cane, and is combined with lactic, citric, malic, and tartaric acids from bilberry, orange, lemon, and sugar maple. Sounds good enough to eat! While physical exfoliation relies on the manual removal of skin cells, chemical exfoliation breaks down the ‘glue’ that bonds cells together - making it easy to wipe away the dead cells. This has one of the same benefits as physical exfoliation, in that it’ll make your skin smooth and glowing, and won’t irritate skin that’s sensitive to scrubs. In true Evolve fashion, we’ve combined these AHAs with some other fabulous ingredients, so that you can make the most of your skincare: Peruvian maca stimulates cell renewal, so you’ll have newer skin cells on the surface more frequently, which leads to glowing and plumped skin.

But there’s more! Did you think exfoliation was just for your face? Dead skin cells build up all over your body, and chances are your limbs could do with some scrubbing, too! Physical exfoliants are a good choice for your body, as the skin tends to be tougher and less delicate than that on your face, so can withstand the manual scrubbing. Exfoliating can lead to a reduction in conditions like keratosis pilaris (tiny bumps on your arms), as well as giving you a smoother shave with fewer ingrown hairs, and boosting skin’s luminosity. An important facet of exfoliation is that it allows any subsequent products to sink into skin more effectively, so you get the most out of your serums, moisturisers and spritzes! Next time you have an event coming up, why not try our Tropical Blossom Body Polish on your legs, then smooth on some of our Sunless Glow Body Lotion for a touch of tan? Alternatively, get scrubbing your upper body and spritz some of our Satin Body Gloss along your collarbones for a subtle, summery glow? The body polish will prep your skin, so you’ll see the full benefit of all the moisturising, nourishing ingredients you slather on afterwards.


So, which should you choose: can we pick both?! It really comes down to preference - some people prefer physical exfoliation because of the encouraging scrubbing feeling, while some feel that chemical exfoliation is perfect for their more sensitive skin. We recommend using a combination: using a chemical exfoliator regularly (1-2 times per week) can brighten and smooth skin in the long run, while physical exfoliators are ideal for a quick fix before a big day. And don’t forget the rest of your body, especially now that summer (aka getting-your-legs-out-season) is coming up: dull skin, begone!


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