Most people exfoliate, some people don’t at all, and everyone has a different method of exfoliation. So, what’s the difference between manual and chemical? What’s best and how does each one effect the skin?
Manual – the most common form of exfoliation on the market. This is something that can be done with treatments or simply at home. Manual exfoliation is a way of manually removing dead skin cells by standard and simple means. Manual exfoliation at home typically is a fluid, scrub or abrasive-like material that manually scratches and removes the most superficial corneocytes (dead skin cells) from the stratum corneum. This method is typically done once per week and leaves the skin feeling supple, smooth and soft. Manual exfoliation in clinic usually consists of treatments that remove slightly more dead skin than at-home treatments such as dermaplaning and microdermabrasion.
Chemical – the least most common form of exfoliation due to its slightly more irritating nature. Chemical exfoliants consist of Alpha, Beta and Poly Hydroxy Acids (AHA, BHA and PHA’s) that chemically remove dead skin cells at a more effective rate than manual. These are usually in liquid forms such as toners and are done 3-7 times per week. Chemical exfoliants work by disconnecting keratin bridges that attach skin cells to one another. Over time these bridges slowly disconnect and cause a natural exfoliation, but as we age, the time of natural exfoliation is 28 days plus, meaning that we don’t necessarily notice this change due to the amount of dead skin on the human body. By disconnecting the cells with a chemical exfoliator, the cells below have less trauma and irritation than manual. In clinic treatments consist of chemical peels, that remove more dead skin than at home treatments.
So manual or chemical?
Manual! As our skin is naturally at an acid Ph of 4.5 -5.0, our skin tends to thrive and work more effectively with the use of acids, allowing the skin cells to work more accelerated. Unlike manual exfoliators that tend to scratch the newer skin below after exfoliation, and cause micro trauma which can lead to enlarged pores, dryness of the skin and more, chemical exfoliators don’t cause too much trauma to the skin underneath due to how they work. Chemicals tend to attract moisture, leave the skin soft without causing dryness and expansion of the pores.
What to look for?
For chemical exfoliators try to look out for products containing, glycolic, lactic or lactobitonic acid. For most skin types, lactic acid is amazing at removing dead skin gently and effectively while attracting moisture due to its natural humectant properties. The Alumier MD Bright and clear solution and AHA renewal serum is amazing and effective at removed dead skin cells while adding hydration.
What to avoid?
Anything with grains, salty likes crystals or beads that are manually exfoliating the skin. These tend to be too much for the skin and over time can cause too much trauma and damage. Facial brushes or pads are also considered to be a form of manual exfoliation that abrasively remove the dead skin.
For more information on skin treatments we perform and recommended skincare, please contact the practice: