Why You Should Never Use Physical Exfoliants

By Rose Griesgraber

Exfoliation is vital for skin health and beauty, but doing it the wrong way can hurt your skin rather than help it. You don't want to scrape and damage your skin while attempting to rejuvenate it. There are two types of ingredients that come in exfoliating skincare products: chemical and physical. Chemical exfoliants are ingredients that loosen the bonds holding dead skin and promote collagen production in the process. These chemicals not only help exfoliate but can also help unclog pores and complexion in general.

 Physical exfoliants remove skin cells through mechanical agitation. They may remove the dead layer of skin, but mechanical exfoliants do a lot more harm in addition to just that. Their side effects can include ripping and tearing healthy skin cells and leaving tiny tears on the surface of the skin. They also do not promote collagen production in the same targeted way that chemical exfoliants do. If they do encourage collagen production, it's as a result of damage to the skin - initiating collagen growth as a repair mechanism. Physical exfoliants may feel effective, but they are way too harsh. They rub your skin raw rather - past the point of healthy glowing pink that should be achieved. 

Mechanical exfoliants come in a variety of sizes. On the smaller side, products may incorporate granules of fruit pits, oate, etc, and on the larger side, ingredients like baking soda. Apricot or other abrasive scrubs should be avoided - and micro beads used with caution as well. If you simply must use a physical exfoliant, the smaller the particle the better. But generally,  leave mechanical exfoliation to dermatologists who use advanced methods like microdermabrasion. Instead, opt for a chemical exfoliants like glycolic or salicylic acid at home. 

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