Physical vs Chemical Exfoliation: Which Is Best for You?

Physical VS Chemical Exfoliation: Which Is Best for You? | InstaNatural


We know and understand how nerve-wracking exfoliation can be when you don’t know what to look out for or which type of exfoliant to use. We are bringing you everything you need to know about getting rid of dead skin cells through exfoliation, including helping you understand the differences between physical and chemical exfoliation, and their effects on various skin types.

What is Exfoliation?

Exfoliation is an important step in your skin care regimen that works to remove the top layer of dead skin, notably improving the overall tone and texture of your skin.


  1. Reduces of the appearance of pores and mild scarring
  2. Creates a smoother and more absorbent surface area for your serum and moisturizer to absorb into
  3. Slows down the aging process and reduces the appearance of wrinkles
  4. Improves the health of your skin, leaving it glowing and feeling rejuvenated
  5. Clears clogged pores and reduces breakouts on acne-prone skin 

Physical Exfoliation

Physical Exfoliation | InstaNatural

Physical exfoliation includes the use of scrubs that consist of an abrasive ingredient such as jojoba beads, ground shells or crystals. These exfoliants are typically massaged into the skin in order to manually buff away the dead skin cells that exist on the outer layer of the skin.

Recommended Skin Types:

  • Oily Skin
  • Normal to Combination Skin
  • Non-Sensitive Skin

Frequency: At least two to three times a week, depending on the product’s recommended directions.

Do You Have Dry or Sensitive Skin? Here Are A Few Ways You Can Enjoy Physical Exfoliation.

Dry and sensitive skin typically does not take too well to physical exfoliation as this method may make drier skin types feel depleted and can expose sensitive skin to irritations. However, using a gentle scrub with less frequency, in addition to a replenishing after skin care routine, may be a good physical exfoliation method to use in rotation with chemical exfoliation. Note that anytime you introduce a new product or step into your routine, it is important to start slow and monitor your skin’s response – if you feel it’s too much, simply decrease how often or adjust the type of product you’re using.

Advantages of Physical Exfoliation:

  • No risks of chemical exfoliation irritation
  • Visible results in the smoothness of the skin, almost instantly
  • Improves blood circulation
  • Easy to incorporate into your routine
  • Reduces the look of pores and fine lines and wrinkles 


Follow these quick and easy steps to enjoy the benefits of physical exfoliation, using our Exfoliating Glycolic Mask!


  1. Cleanse your skin with your usual cleanser, check out our Vitamin C Cleanser that simultaneously works to thoroughly cleanse your skin and combat aging.
  2. Apply our Exfoliating Glycolic Mask in a light, smooth layer. After the mask has set, massage the product in circular motions to buff the skin and promote an increase in blood flow.
  3. Rinse the scrub off with warm water and dry your skin with a clean face towel.
  4. Finish this routine by brightening and nourishing your skin. We recommend applying a facial serum followed by a suitable hydrating moisturizer. 

Chemical Exfoliation

Chemical exfoliation refers to the process in which acids work by prompting the shedding of epidermal cells on the outer layer of the skin, by breaking down the glue that holds together these cells. Consequently, the dead skin cells are “peeled” away leaving brighter, smoother skin with an increase in cell renewal.

Types: The most popular acids used in chemical peels are Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHA), which includes Glycolic, Lactic, Malic, Citric and various fruit acids. These ingredients can be derived from natural sources, and they are commonly used in chemical peels because their small molecular weight allows for a deeper exfoliation. These acids are great for slowing the aging process while also reducing the signs of discoloration on the skin.

The second most popular is the Beta Hydroxy Acid (BHA)- Salicylic Acid. Salicylic Acid still dissolves the sebaceous glue that holds dead skin cells to the skin’s surface, but it also helps clear excess oil and debris from the pores, reducing the look of blackheads and breakouts.

Recommended Skin Types:

  • Mature Skin
  • Combination Skin
  • Oily Skin and Acne-Prone Skin

Frequency: At home chemical peels can vary in strength, but in general chemical exfoliation is needed less often than physical. We recommend beginning with every other week and increasing based on the product used and your skin’s tolerance.

Advantages of Chemical Exfoliation:

  • Improves appearance of scars and pigmentation
  • Increases the look of collagen and elasticity in the skin
  • Improves skin tone and texture
  • Hydrates the skin and restores natural glow
  • Allows a deeper exfoliation in the comfort of your home


Follow these quick and easy steps to enjoy the benefits of chemical exfoliation using our 30% Glycolic AHA Chemical Peel.


  1. Start with freshly cleansed skin and pat dry.
  2. Apply our 30% Glycolic AHA Chemical Peel in a thin layer, staying away from the eye and lip areas.
  3. Allow peel to set for 30-60 seconds, paying attention to any signs of irritation. Slight flushing or tingling may occur but isn’t required for the product to work. Bright redness or burning is not expected and if you experience this, remove the peel with cold water.
  4. Remove the chemical peel with cold water which will calm the skin and stop any further exfoliation.
  5. Finish this routine by soothing and hydrating your skin. We recommend applying a gentle facial serum followed by a nourishing moisturizer.

TIP: Because chemical exfoliation can increase your skin’s sensitivity to the sun, we recommend applying an SPF during the day.

Maintaining Exfoliated Skin

To see the best results after adding exfoliation to your routine, we highly recommend gentle, daily exfoliation. While regular peels and scrubs are still important, daily exfoliation maintains the cell’s renewal cycle, allowing your peels and scrubs to be more effective.

Pairing a gentle daily exfoliation such as an exfoliating acid toner, with advanced exfoliation treatments, can enhance the results of better-looking skin while reducing the risk of irritation from too aggressive or frequent advanced exfoliation.

Advantages of Gentle Daily Exfoliation:

  • Maintains skins natural renewal process
  • Reduces the appearance of pores
  • Hydrates the skin
  • Refines uneven skin texture 

Our 7% Glycolic AHA Toner serves as a gentle daily exfoliant which can easily be used to maintain your exfoliated skin.















Follow these quick and easy steps to enjoy the benefits of acid toner exfoliation using our 7% Glycolic AHA Toner.


  1. Start with a freshly cleansed face and pat dry.
  2. Apply our 7% Glycolic AHA Toner by dispensing 4-6 pumps onto a cotton round and swiping across the skin avoiding the eye area.
  3. Follow with appropriate serum and moisturizer.

TIP: We only recommend using acid toners as a maintenance routine, specifically on the days when you are not using any other form of exfoliation, to avoid over exfoliation.


The key to a positive experience during exfoliation is to understand what works for your skin type. A combination of physical and chemical exfoliation can be used to combat dullness and ensure positive overall results in the appearance of your skin.

Don’t forget, maintaining exfoliated skin is just as crucial as exfoliation when you are aiming to see the best results!

Now that you have been introduced to the many aspects of exfoliation, we hope you understand the importance of adding exfoliation to your skin care routine. Our Glycolic Acid Collection serves as the perfect option to get you started with the best exfoliation routine for your skin type. Enjoy!

InstaNatural Glycolic Acid Collection