The 3 Primary Types of Exfoliation

Exfoliation is one of the most fundamental steps in skincare, and yet there is still so much confusion that circulates when and how to exfoliate. The truth is, not all exfoliation methods are created equal, and what benefits your skin type may be different than what a different skin type may require. While your specific skin type may see the best results from one primary type of exfoliation, one thing is for sure: the fall and winter months are some of the best times to exfoliate your skin. Not only can it remove dry and flaky rough patches, but it is also a time of year where the UV rays are lower, making it less likely to see sun damage following a treatment (keep in mind, SPF is still a must!) Today, we’re breaking down the three primary types of exfoliation so you can get the best results out of your skincare.

The Importance of Exfoliation

Exfoliation is vital to a skincare routine because it helps remove dead skin cells and helps to bring new, healthy skin cells to the surface of the skin. Skin cell renewal occurs naturally and pushes dead skin cells to the outer layer of the skin. When these dead skin cells aren’t removed, they build up and lead to rough, dull, and impure skin. However, when exfoliation techniques are used, these dead skin cells are removed, revealing youthful, radiant skin. Not only does exfoliation create a more even skin tone and improve cellular renewal, but it also allows other skin care products, such as serums and moisturizers, to penetrate more deeply and better absorb into the skin. 

Primary Types of Exfoliation

Physical Exfoliation

One of the most common forms of exfoliation is physical exfoliation. This process involves using a granular scrub to slough off dead skin cells and can be a regular part of an at-home skincare routine. This type of exfoliation gets its name because the scrub physically buffs the skin’s surface, leaving a smooth texture and brighter skin tone. If you’re incorporating an exfoliator in your skincare routine to achieve softer and glowing skin, check out the Exfoliating Polish by Zo Skin Health. We love this product because it is gentle enough to use at home and can lead to better results from other products. Depending on your skin type and sensitivity, the recommended use of physical exfoliation products will vary, but one of our skilled estheticians can answer any questions you may have.

Mechanical Exfoliation

Mechanical exfoliation uses a machine or device to effectively and deeply removes dead skin cells. At-home mechanical exfoliating can involve brushes or other tools, while in a professional setting, this level of exfoliation can involve treatments such as the Hydrafacial. Hydrafacial is the only hydradermabrasion procedure that combines cleansing, exfoliation, extraction, hydration, and antioxidant protection simultaneously, resulting in clearer, more beautiful skin with little-to-no downtime.

Chemical Exfoliation

The final of the three primary types of exfoliation is chemical exfoliation. While the word chemical may seem harsh, there are various kinds of chemicals that range from gentle to more intense, depending on what your skin needs. The general explanation of chemical exfoliation is that it involves the use of enzymes and acid-based products that work by dissolving the protein bonds between dead skin cells, allowing for dead skin cell removal. Some of the more popular types of chemical exfoliators may have ingredients such as glycolic, citric, and lactic acids to improve the skin’s tone and texture. These active ingredients appear in various at-home skincare products but are also used in professional settings during a peel to provide more immediate results.

Schedule a Consultation

If you have any questions about different types of exfoliation, skincare practices, or skincare myths, reach out to us today! Our staff at O’Neill Plastic Surgery is committed, experienced, and works collaboratively to educate patients on the latest plastic surgery and cosmetic treatments. Request an appointment or call us at (843) 881-2130.

A picture of Patrick J. O’Neill, MD wearing his doctor attire.

About the Author

Upon completing medical school at the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston, SC, Dr. O’Neill completed nine years of residency training. These nine years included a full general surgery and a plastic surgery residency, both at the Medical University of South Carolina, and a hand and microsurgery fellowship at the Kleinert Institute for Hand and Microsurgery. Dr. O’Neill has extensive certifications, training, skills, and knowledge that make him a successful physician who can carry out your next plastic surgery procedure. His expertise and technique will result in the beautiful and natural look you desire post surgery.

Board Certified:
American Board of Surgery
American Board of Plastic Surgery
Sub-Certification in Hand and Microsurgery

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