Physical Exfoliation: Is it really bad ?

D.BennettD.Bennett
Oct. 5
 What is physical exfolation?
Physical exfoliation is taking something physical such as a scrub, or tool to remove dead skin cells from top layer of skin. They require scrubbing or rubbing your skin. There are two kinds of exfoliation: chemical and physical. With physical you tend to see instant results. They contain things such as fruit, salt, nut, or sugar particles that give it a textured feeling. Other popular tools include a Clarasonic or spinning face brush.
Why are physcial exfoliants bad?
Many dermatologist fear micro-tears and overexfoliating. Micro-tearing of the skin, is when there are tiny unseen tears on the skin's stratum corneum (top layer of skin). These both can have neagtive effects such as:
  • infections
  • breakouts
  • envoironemental damage- Pollution, sun damage
  • age faster
  • irritation
  • dryness
The thing is, chemical exfoliants can do the same thing. I see a lot of people saying chemical exfoliants are better, but then you have dangers such as burns and overexfoliating.
If you experience any of these issues with your skin, dial back your routine an go back to the basics. 1. Cleanse 2. Moisturize 3. Sunscreen
In 2016, there was a lawsuit in California against St. Ives (Unilever). The infamous St Ives Apricot Scrub, was now in the not so great spotlight. The issue was a woman who was suing the company for damage to here skin, linked to the scrub. The case, that was in court for two years, was eventually thrown out due to lack of evidence that the scrub caused this.
Can I use physcial exfoliation?
Physical exfoliations are not bad, if used in moderation, correct formula, and properly.
One things that gets a lot of backlash, is crushed walnut shells. These are ranked among the most abrasive. I have found my skin to be fine when using a scrub of this type, but if you have:
  •  persistant acne breakouts
  • dry skin
  • sensitive skin
  • excema
  • rosacea
I would avoid physical exfolation altogether.
If you feel abnormal tightness, sensitivity, or irritation.. discontinue use.
The best way to use a physical exfoliation is to use it gently and sparingly.
The pressure you use to rub your scrub or brush should be delicate.
You do not need to scrub away at your skin like a madman. I scrub my skin for literally 30 seconds (sometimes less). You just want to get the top layer of your skin worked up. I also currently use a physical scrub once a week to every two weeks. If you use actives and chemical exfolations (acids, retinols) , you dont really need a physical as much. I like to have even textured skin, I find that while chemical is said to be more effective, the immediate results of physical exfolation is more considerable.
According to this article, scrubs should also not contain aluminum oxide. The crystals do not dissolve in water.
This is the most abrasive scrub I have in my arsenal. When my skin is extremely in need of exfoliation this is my go to. It can be rough so if you over use it or use it to rough it will damage your skin. I find my skin can withstand the walnut shells in this scrubs. $9.99
This is my gentlest exfolaitor. Its marketed to use everyday and honestly if I wasnt using so many actives I would consider it. It leaves my face feeling soft and very smooth. $30
This is a great combo product. Its gentl and promotes skin brightening and also pore cleansing. Does contain fragrance. $17.99

Texture shot

Facial Brushes should be treated the same way. If you still use is and it works for you, thats fine! When using this, its all about the cleanser that is used with it. You want to aim for a gentle cleanser or balm.
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