By Kirsten Anderjaska

Have you ever had questions about exfoliation? That word is used a lot and sometimes can be confusing. You may have questions like: “Is it better to choose a chemical or mechanical exfoliation?” “What product is best?” “What is it really doing for my skin” “Is it even needed at all?”

We are here to help! I’ll start by explaining what exfoliation is. Exfoliation is the process of removing cells from the stratum corneum (top layer) of skin. As we age cell turnover naturally slows and a build up of dead skin cells can happen. It can lead to dull, rough skin. That’s why exfoliation is an important part of the skin care routine. It helps skin stay looking young and healthy as well as smoother and softer, allowing your products to penetrate better.

Now let’s talk about the difference between mechanical/manual and chemical exfoliants. Manual exfoliation is the removal of dead skin cells with an abrasive product like a scrub, causing a scraping effect to remove dead skin cells. Chemical exfoliation is removing dead skin cells using a substance such as enzymes, alpha hydroxy acid (AHA)and/or beta hydroxy acid (BHA) in conjunction with other ingredients to cause a chemical reaction on the skin. One exfoliation process is not better that the other, both are effective but a chemical exfoliant tends to exfoliate more evenly than a manual one. There are some things to keep in mind when adding exfoliation to your routine, it might not be a good option for everyone depending on skin sensitivities or conditions and other products you are using. Exfoliation is only recommended to be done once or twice a week and you should always wear sunscreen to protect your fresh skin from the sun. One of my favorites is the AHA/BHA exfoliating cleanser from SkinMedica. It is both a chemical and manual exfoliate and always leaves my skin soft, smooth and glowing.

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