I don’t know about you guys but up until about a year ago, I had no idea that there was more than one type of exfoliator… Obviously I knew about all the different brands and formulas but as far as I was concerned an exfoliator involved some kind of grainy scrub that physically buffed away your dead skin. I had a few in the cupboard and used them on occasion but hadn’t ever really found the perfect form of exfoliation for my face. Fast forward to the present and my skincare stocks are now full to the brim of every kind of exfoliator imaginable, from chemical to physical – and everything in between.

But which, I hear you ask is the best option? I personally like to use a bit of everything – it’s all about shaking things up – I tend to use a chemical exfoliator twice a day – morning and evening – and I add in something a bit more grainy once or twice a week. So, without further ado, allow me to share with you some of my favourite exfoliating options…

Physical exfoliators: these contain some kind of rough particle – grains or beady bits – that physically buff away all that dead skin. Nice. They tend to be a little bit harsher on the skin than the acid/chemical alternatives but can be nice for those days when you really want the satisfaction of a good ole scrub. I love the Origins Never a Dull Moment Skin-Brightening Face Polisherwhich is a great option for anyone who has more sensitive skin. The exfoliating particles are really gentle and it has a delightfully fruity fragrance. For something a bit more hardcore, I turn to the Lierac Micro-Abrasion Deep Exfoliating CreamThis product has really fine but quite tough grainy bits that polish your skin to an extreme. Although far too harsh for daily use in my opinion, it serves as a brilliantly brightening once-a-week option.

The in-between exfoliators: these are a mix between physical and chemical and tend to combine the best bits of both – a grainy buffing texture alongside a natural acid which both help to slough away all those unwanted grimy bits. The NUDE Miracle Mask is probably one of my favourites full stop, irrespective of categories. It’s full to the brim with natural AHAs (alpha hydroxy acids – the chemical bit) and rice beads (the physical bit), both of which leave your skin feeling silky smooth and pretty darn radiant. Similarly the Dermalogica Daily Microfoliant contains a blend of exfoliating rice powder – which is uber gentle – and salicylic acid, combining the best of both worlds in a pretty gentle, but effective, formula.

Chemical exfoliators: the name for this group of exfoliators can make them sound a hella lot scarier than they are. Also referred to as acid exfoliators (that name’s no better!), they use natural acids such as salicylic acid, alpha hydroxy acid, glycolic acid – the list goes on – to exfoliate the skin, rather than physically buffing everything away. Most commonly used in an acid toner form, my favourites include the Pixi Glow Tonic, which is full of natural goodness and helps to create a radiant complexion like none other, and the Aveda Botanical Kinetics Exfoliant which works a similar magic and leaves skin feeling incredibly soft and smooth.

What exfoliators do you guys like to use? 


3 thoughts on “Exfoliators: physical v chemical

  1. I really love physical exfoliators the best, I love that fresh feeling afterwards. The Michael Todd tropical fruit one is my favourite. Great post 🙂

  2. You need to try Dermalogica’s Multivitamin Thermafoliant! Its a physical and chemical exfoliant and leaves your skin feeling like a baby’s bottom! Its really great for treating skin conditions like keratosis polaris too.

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