What is the Difference Between Exfoliation and Chemical Peel?

by THEA Home Beauty | Feb 20, 2023

Skin cells go through skin cycle. Exfoliation is the loosening of dead skin cells on the surface or the outermost layer of the skin.

Removal of dead skin cells can be either by physical exfoliation means such as exfoliant, suction, microdermabration, sonic vibration etc. or by chemical exfoliation. You probably have heard of the term chemical peel using acids or enzymes that slough away dead skin cells and boost cell regeneration. 


Why should we exfoliate? 

By sloughing off old skin cells, the skin cellular turnover process is activated to bring fresher, younger lower-level cells to the surface resulting in the following benefits:

  1. It brighten skin tone, fades age spots sun damage and hormonal imbalance can cause build up of pigmentation, well cells containing the pigment is removed and healthy skin cell surface the skin, the result is brighter more even complexion.
  2. It unclogs pores. Over-production of skin oil trap dirt. If invaded by bacteria, it could lead to inflamed skin and formation of acne. Removal of dead skin along with trapped debris unclog pores and allows the release of natural skin oils to keep skin radiant.
  3. It reduces pore size and superficial scars. By removing dead skin cell and debris in the pores, it removes content that stretches out the pores, resuming enlarged pores to its natural size. Superficial scars that sit at the outer layer of the skin will be removed and made less apparent. 
  4. Lessen fine lines and wrinkles. Newly exposed layer of skin reflects light better and the new cells have more moisture, skin appear more supple and plumbed.
  5. Enhance absorption of moisturizers, antioxidants, collagen-boosting serums and acne medication. By removing the top layer of dead and damaged cells. Greatness of skincare can be penetrated better.


Related: Overall of all Anti-aging Beauty Treatments


When to exfoliate?

Exfoliation should be done after makeup removal, after face wash and before applying skincare products such as toner and moisturizer. If given the choice, exfoliating at night time is better than in the morning.


What type of exfoliant should you choose?

Generally, acne-prone and highly sensitive skin responds better to chemical exfoliants as they are less likely to cause irritation. Different skin type respond differently. Test on a small patch of skin to check whether chemical peel is welcomed by your skin prior to smearing it over your entire face.

Both physical and chemical exfoliant can achieve similar results. Decision can be made based on personal preference on the ease of application and the feel of it. It is perfectly fine to use both methods, however sufficient time should be allowed between exfoliation session to avoid over-exfoliation.



What is the Difference Between Exfoliation and Chemical Peel? 2


What are chemical exfoliants?

If you prefer a chemical exfoliant, among the most common types are alpha-hydroxy acids (AHAs) and beta-hydroxy acid (BHA). Both AHAs and BHA work by combining with the structural lipids in your outermost layer of skin (stratum corneum) and dissolving them so that the dead skin cells break away.

  1. Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHAs) - The most common types of light chemical peels. The AHA family of acids is derived from natural sources, such as fruit, milk or sugar. Two of the most widely used in skin care products today are glycol acid, commonly obtained from sugar cane and lactic acid obtained from from milk. AHA-based facial exfoliators are an excellent choice for people with oily skin. The acids work by dissolving the bonds that hold skin cells together, allowing dead skin cells to slough off more rapidly than they would on their own.
  2. Beta Hydroxy Acid (BHA) - BHA is also a light chemical peel. In general, BHA is a more effective treatment for acne-prone skin. BHA (also called salicylic acid) is able to penetrate the oil to clean from the inside of your pores, remove clogging and assist to normalize the lining of pores for proper pore health.
  3. Enzyme - For very sensitive skin, it is often recommended to use enzyme-based exfoliants. These enzymes come from a natural source, such as fruits. They work much like acids but in a much slower pace, allowing for an extremely safe and gentle exfoliating process without irritating skin.

What are physical exfoliants?

If you prefer a physical exfoliant, the best product for you depends a great deal upon the thickness, sensitivity of your skin and your lifestyle. 

Scrubs - Exfoliant scrubs can come in different texture. Generally speaking, oily skin tend to have larger sebaceous glands underneath, so the skin is thicker and better able to tolerate larger, more abrasive particles. Dry or sensitive skin are more suited for smaller granules scrubs that are less irritating and less likely to cause skin tears.

The best exfoliating scrub is the one that effectively and efficiently removes dead skin cells build up on the skin surface but gentle to the rest of your skin.Scrubs should be applied to the skin in gentle circular motion then wipe away with wet cotton pads or wash away with water.

Microdermabrasion - Microdermabrasion devise is equipped with a rotating head lined with super-fine diamonds or crystal particles to provide uniform, precise and even exfoliation to the skin in the most gentle way. The fast speed rotating method makes it the most efficient yet gentle to the skin. It is best to do microdermabrasion treatment at night time, leaving skin proper time to rest, regenerate and absorb skincare that are applied afterwards.

Comedo Suction - Comedo suction devices utilize suction effect much like a vacuum cleaner to extract pore clogging materials such as dead skin cells, blackheads, whitehead and other debris in the pores. To facilitate the extraction, it is best to use this type of devices after a warm bath or shower where the heat and steam in the bathroom can help open up the pores and soften the skin in preparation for the suction.

Facial Brush - They come in both static form or electrically powered rotating form. The mechanic works much like microdermabrasion but slightly less gentle. Though rotating facial brush is particularly handy when used with foaming face wash as part of the beauty regimen.

Regular exfoliation is absolutely essential to maintaining even skin tone, smooth skin texture and keeping fine lines and wrinkles at bay. It is a basic skincare step that should be incorporated into everyone’s beauty regime. 


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