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If you follow a consistent skin care routine for your skin type (including facial cleanser, moisturizer, and eye cream), you likely already know that exfoliation should play a role. In case you need a refresher, exfoliation is the process of sloughing off dead skin cells from the surface of your skin. But it turns out there are actually two types of exfoliation: mechanical and chemical. What’s the difference? Well, that’s what we’re here to explain below. Keep reading to learn about the differences between mechanical exfoliation and chemical exfoliation, as well as our best skin care products for both types of exfoliation. Just one note: How often you should exfoliate depends. Some people can handle daily exfoliation, while others may only be able to handle exfoliating once a week. Pay attention to how your skin responds to see what works best for you.
Mechanical exfoliation calls for the use of a tool that will act to physically remove dead skin cells from your skin’s surface. This tool can be a physical instrument like a brush, sponge, or hand-held scrubbing disk. You can also use a face scrub to mechanically exfoliate your skin. (Read What Is Dry Brushing? Why You Should Give This Exfoliating Method a Try.)
Want to give mechanical exfoliation a try? Below, find our skin care products that you can use to do just that.
L’Oréal Paris Pure-Clay Exfoliate & Refine Cleanser: This facial cleanser goes beyond daily cleansing to exfoliate for skin that feels smoother. Immediately, skin is purified of dirt, oil, and pollution and is left with a clean, clear look. Once a day, squeeze a small amount of facial cleanser into hands and add water to transform it from clay to mousse. Gently massage the facial cleanser onto your face using circular motions, then rinse thoroughly with lukewarm water and pat dry.
L’Oréal Paris Pure-Clay Exfoliate & Refine Face Mask: Day after day, dead skin cells can accumulate on the surface of your skin, leaving your skin feeling rough. This face mask can help draw out the buildup of impurities, dirt, and oils, exfoliate dead skin cells from skin’s surface, and smooth imperfections. Apply an even layer of face mask to clean dry skin, leave it on for 10-15 minutes, then remove with water in circular motions to exfoliate. Use three times a week for best results.
L’Oréal Paris Pure-Sugar Smooth & Glow Face Scrub: This face scrub melts into skin for gentle yet effective exfoliation. Immediately, skin feels smoother and looks glowing, while dirt, oil, and impurities are effectively removed.
L’Oréal Paris Pure-Sugar Nourish & Soften Face Scrub: Immediately after using this face scrub, skin looks more refined and feels softer and smoother, while dry skin is smoothed with continued use over time.
L’Oréal Paris Pure-Sugar Purify & Unclog Face Scrub: Skin feels purified and clean after using this green-hued face scrub, while the appearance of dull skin is gently polished away.
To use any of the above three face scrubs, smooth a small amount with dry fingers onto clean, dry skin. Massage the face scrub over your face with wet fingers, then rinse thoroughly with lukewarm water, Use three times a week for best results.
Now onto the second type of exfoliation! Chemical exfoliation involves the use of salicylic acid or alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) such as glycolic acid to dissolve dead skin cell buildup from the surface of your skin—no scrubbing necessary.
If you’re looking to give chemical exfoliation a go, here are two skin care products to get you started.
L’Oréal Paris RevitaLift Bright Reveal Brightening Daily Peel Pads: Formulated with glycolic acid, these peel pads gently yet effectively help dissolve uneven skin tone and reduce the appearance of uneven skin tone and fine lines and wrinkles. Plus, the multi-ply texture pads physically resurface dead skin cells to reveal brighter-looking skin. Immediately, skin looks more radiant, while the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles is reduced with continued use over time. Use nightly on clean skin. Gently apply in a circular motion to your face after cleansing.
L’Oréal Paris RevitaLift Bright Reveal Brightening Dual Overnight Moisturizer: This overnight moisturizer has an exfoliating concentrate formulated with glycolic acid in one chamber and a brightening infusion formulated with vitamin C and Pro-Retinol in the other. Every night, smooth gently over cleansed skin.
Keep in mind that AHAs like glycolic acid can leave your skin sensitive to the sun, so make sure to apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher as directed in the morning. Take other sun protection measures as well, including limiting your amount of time in the sun (especially during the sun’s peak hours of 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.), seeking shade, and covering up exposed areas in long sleeves, pants, a broad-brimmed hat, and UV-blocking sunglasses.
Ready for your next skin care lesson? Head on over to our article, What Is Glycolic Acid?