We’ve already talked about chemical exfoliation and the benefits that this process can have for skin health, vitality, and texture. But enzymatic and acid-based exfoliants aren’t the only option for people looking for a smoother, renewed skin appearance. Here, we review some of the best options available for physical and mechanical exfoliation techniques.
Simply put, physical exfoliation uses movement and friction, rather than acids like chemical exfoliation, to slough off dead skin cells. Physical exfoliation is done either with physical tools, such as a washcloth or exfoliating mitt, or with skin care products that contain ingredients that gently abrade the skin for an exfoliating effect. Before you try either method, make sure to start slow. Too much physical stress on the skin can cause inflammation or microtears, so stick to finer exfoliants and refrain from using too much force.
Wondering how to get started? Your best bet might be something you already have at hand: a washcloth. Using a clean cloth to apply and massage on your skin cleanser creates additional friction on the skin, and the uneven surfaces of the cloth provide a boost of exfoliation to the effects of your chosen product. You can also incorporate the pore-opening power of warmth by either moistening the cloth with hot (but not scalding) water or microwaving a damp cloth or towel for about 30 seconds. Let the warm cloth rest on your face for 1-2 minutes before gently scrubbing skin in a circular motion to bring impurities to the surface and remove dead skin. You’ll feel clean and refreshed in no time.
Other options for mechanical exfoliation can include exfoliating mitts, which are especially good for the body and feel amazing in the shower or after a long soak. There’s also dry brushing, which is often a part of spa treatments – in this technique, the soft bristles of a brush are moved in a circular motion over dry skin, catching and scraping off loose dead skin cells. These can be a bit too abrasive for the sensitive skin of the face, though gentler options wiith softer bristles do exist.
Before you start looking for skin care products to help with physical exfoliation, a word of warning about plastic microbeads. Sometimes less than 1mm in diameter, these small plastic spheres have been added in the past to soaps and cosmetics. Microbeads are not biodegradable and are too small to be filtered out of household water waste, which means that they end up in lakes, oceans, and the general water supply. Because of the environmental ramifications of introducing microbeads into the water supply, lots of countries, including the USA, have introduced legislation banning this ingredient, in the hopes of encouraging cosmetic companies to discontinue their use. Most companies have already opted for other, less environmentally-hazardous ingredients instead, so it’s less and less likely that you’ll find any in stores. Nevertheless, we recommend you check the ingredients in products before you buy them to ensure your exfoliants don’t include them.
When it comes to abrasive and exfoliating cleansers, there are, frankly, countless options available on the market. Experts differ on their preferred or recommended exfoliant. Some people swear by the intense scrubbed-clean feeling provided by rough textures, such as ground nutshells, rice, and coffee. Others prefer the gentle, melting warmth of sea salt and sugar scrubs, which soften with body heat and warm water. Remember that whatever product you use on your body might be too harsh for the skin of the face, which is more delicate and thin.
You can also make your own DIY facial scrubs, using all-natural ingredients customized to your skin care needs. Here is a basic formula to follow, which you can customize based on what your skin needs:
Look for smaller particles for use on the face, like baking soda, cinnamon, and clay. Finely ground oatmeal can also be very gentle and soothing to facial redness. And not all oils are the same. Essential oils are very strong, and only a few drops will be necessary to add the desired soothing scent. Some essential oils like tea tree, lemongrass, and cloves are also known to have anti-fungal and antibacterial properties, but these can also be intense and irritating to the skin, or even cause an allergic reaction.
How to avoid this? As with every new product, even the ones you make yourself, it’s always safest to do a patch test on an unobtrusive area of skin, such as the inside of your arm. Apply whatever product you are using to the thinner skin inside your wrist or elbow, following the directions for use on the bottle (or recipe). Wait 24 hours and see if any adverse reaction develops before use on the face. And finally, if you have any questions about what might be best for your unique skin care needs, it’s always worth talking to the experts. A dermatologist will likely have the most insight into what can best meet your exfoliating needs.
While there is a lot that you can do for your skin at home, there are also some deeper and long-lasting treatments available. Medical aesthetic treatments are designed to help you reach your complexion goals quickly, comfortably, and with no downtime.
Venus Viva™ MD skin resurfacing treatments use radio frequency energy to gently correct and repair issues with skin texture and damage. The treatments improve the appearance of scars, wrinkles, enlarged pores and pigmentation issues. Advanced NanoFractional Radio Frequency delivers better and longer-lasting results than chemical or abrasive methods with no discomfort or downtime, while helping to naturally increase collagen and elastin fibers that keep skin looking youthful.
Non-invasive Radio Frequency-based (RF) wrinkle reduction treatments with Venus Versa™ and Venus Legacy™ use gentle heating to stimulate collagen and elastin production under the skin’s surface, combatting the body's natural slowness to produce these substances with age. It's effective, pain-free, and excellent at restoring skin's vitality, firmness, and smoothness.
Venus Glow™ facial renewal treatments extract and remove dirt and impurities from below the surface of the skin for greater radiance and skin health. Boosted by our innovative line of Glow Serums™, your Venus Glow™ treatment can also treat acne, rosacea, and other common skin ailments.
To start looking for a qualified provider of services using the Venus Concept line of aesthetic devices, use the search function below.
Search below to find a provider near you and to learn about our non-surgical aesthetic treatments with ARTAS®, NeoGraft®, Venus Bliss™, Venus Blilss MAX™, Venus Versa™, Venus Legacy™, Venus Velocity™, Venus Viva™ MD, and Venus Glow™.