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Chemical vs Physical Exfoliation

Chemical vs Physical Exfoliation - Mysa Day Spa
chemical exfoliant serum

Want bright, glowing and silky smooth skin? One of the essential steps to achieving healthy and radiant skin is exfoliation.

Exfoliation removes dead skin cells and buildup from the surface of your skin. Not only does it help to maintain a smooth complexion, but it also helps prevent breakouts and minimize the appearance of pores. Exfoliation also maximizes the effectiveness of all your other skincare products. Without all the dead skin in the way, they're able to penetrate deeper into the skin. 

There are two types of exfoliation on the market: physical and chemical exfoliants. They both essentially do the same thing, remove dead skin cells, but they work differently to achieve this.

What is Physical Exfoliation

Physical exfoliants use something physical like brush bristle or abrasive substances to remove the outermost layer of skin. From face sponges to state of the art cleansing brushes, there’s no shortage of physical exfoliation tools.


  • you can control the amount of pressure used to better suit your skin's sensitivity level
  • brushes and scrubs are widely available


  • some physical scrubs contain larger, more abrasive particles that can cause micro-tears on the skin
  • excessive abrasion can result in irritated skin

Here are a couple of physical exfoliants we offer at the spa: Dermalogica Daily Superfoliant and Luzern L'essentials Micro-Exfoliant.

What is Chemical Exfoliation?

Chemical exfoliants break the bonds between the skin cells to loosen up the dead skin, revealing smoother and brighter skin. Chemical exfoliants include enzymes, alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) like lactic or glycolic acid, and beta hydroxy acids (BHAs) such as salicylic acid.


  • since chemical exfoliants do not involve rubbing the skin, they are generally safer than many physical exfoliants
  • with regular use, they are more effective than physical exfoliants


  • can cause irritation if mixed with other targeted topical treatments like retinol

Here are a couple of physical exfoliants we offer at the spa: Jan Marini Bioclear Face Lotion and Luzern Nuit Hydra Enzyme Masque.

Unsure about whether to choose a physical or chemical exfoliant? Choosing the right exfoliant type comes down to personal preference and what works well for your skin. If you're still unsure, speak to one of our estheticians the next time you are at the spa to get a recommendation for your skin.

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