Skin exfoliation is the process of removing excess dirt, oils, and old skin cells to prevent clogged pores, and there are two types of exfoliators — physical and chemical. Physical exfoliants were once popular but are not recommended now, as they contain grainy pieces that rub against the skin, creating agitation and more oil production if performed too often.
Many professionals recommend chemical over physical exfoliation, but if you love the feeling of a physical exfoliant, doctors suggest using it once a week. Regarding physical exfoliants, medical esthetician Jordana Mattioli tells Vogue she prefers micro-exfoliation, including poppy seeds, bamboo, brown rice, and rosehip seeds, since they are gentle when mixed with water.
PHAs, BHAs, and AHAs are the three main types of chemical exfoliants, and a PHA is suitable for sensitive skin types, BHA is great for oily skin since it contains salicylic acid, and AHAs help improve skin tone and coloration. Chemical exfoliants are gentler on the skin than physical, but no matter which one you use, don’t overdo it and listen to your skin’s needs.