Physical vs. Chemical Exfoliation – which one is right for your skin?

Exfoliating is an essential step in our skincare routines that helps to keep skin healthy. Not only does it have an instant benefit of cleaning pores, smoothing, and brightening your skin. It also allows serums, sheet masks, and moisturizers to absorb better and work more effectively. But with so many exfoliating products now available on the market, which one to choose? 

There’re two main types – acids (think AHA, BHA, PHA), a.k.a. chemical exfoliants in a liquid form (they look like toners) and scrubs – cream- or gel-like products with microbeads or other grainy substances. 

Chemical exfoliants sink deep into the skin, where acids work hard to unstick the cellular glue and remove dead cells. Physical exfoliants do mostly the same process – breaking the bonds between healthy and dead cells. But instead of “melting” the dead cells, scrubs work to buff them away mechanically. 

These days beauty world tends to favor chemical exfoliants and demonize physical scrubs, but we believe there are a time and place for both in our routines. The argument here is that traditional scrubs can cause micro-tears in the skin, which can lead to infection and breakouts. However, beauty science has come a long way, and there’re plenty of physical exfoliants like peeling gels or gommage peels that are very gentle on the skin. Which one to choose, however, will heavily depend on your skin type/ concerns, what type of exfoliation you’re looking for, season, and many other factors. You might prefer one over the other or successfully combine both. 

So, how to choose the right one? 

Chemical exfoliators.

This category includes different acids (AHA, BHA, etc.) as well as enzyme extracts (papaya, pineapple). This an excellent choice for warmer months when your skin gets oilier and needs to be exfoliated regularly. Most have very gentle formulas that can be used daily (or every other day) to maintain a healthy, clear complexion. 

BHA is better suited for people with oily skin, congested pores and blackheads while AHA and PHA help with redness and breakouts. Enzyme extracts are gentler than acids can be a great alternative to people with extra sensitive skin.  

The drawbacks. Chemical exfoliants are not great at helping with skin texture issues. Nor will they be of much use if you have dry, parched skin that needs to be buffed away manually. That said, for people with scrub-sensitive skin, chemical exfoliating products are an excellent choice. 

Physical exfoliators.

As briefly mentioned above, this is a broad category that includes everything from professionally done microdermabrasion to traditional scrubs to peel gels.  Scrubs usually contain small-sized particles (most popular are coffee, salt, sugar, etc.) that help to remove the dead cells from your skin manually. These are not the best to use on your face where the skin is delicate. But that’s not to say they can’t be. If your skin loves the post-scrub feeling and doesn’t feel sensitized or irritated – by all means, use it. Just make sure not to rub too hard. Apply little pressure, and that would be more than enough to reveal that silky-smooth new skin that was buried underneath. 

Peel gels (or gommage peels) are considered the mildest and the least abrasive in the family of physical exfoliators. They either don’t contain any grainy substances at all or formulated with very finely milled non-abrasive particles (i.e., cellulose) that give a gentle scrubbing effect. Peeling gels are usually used on dry skin and start balling up as you rub them against your skin. These types of exfoliators are great for people who can’t handle full-on scrub but need some manual exfoliation from time to time to help with skin texture issues. It is also an excellent choice for people who need to get rid of dry patches while hydrating the skin.

The drawbacks. The potential to sensitize the skin is an obvious one. If you have extremely sensitive skin, suffer from rosacea or eczema – this won’t be for you as you need to apply as little external pressure to the skin as possible. Also, since they’re only working on the most upper layer of the skin, the effect might seem fleeting, especially for someone who’s used to acid exfoliators. The solution might be to look for a gommage peel that has acids or enzymes in the formula that help to improve cleansing results.  

MOTHER MADE Exfoliating Aqua Peel Gel

The bottom line. Physical and chemical exfoliators have their pros and cons. With the right approach, the correct dosage, and frequency of use –  both can serve you well in your skincare routine.  

Ingredient Series: Apple Fruit Extract

If you’re into Korean skincare, you’ve probably noticed the speed with which new nature-derived ingredients appear on the market. Once Centella was all the rage, now it’s all about Mugwort and Houttuynia Cordata. Who knows what other novelties are waiting to be discovered in the years to come.

And while new is excellent, we also think tried and tested ingredients have its place in our product and deserve some love. Because sometimes, simple and straightforward is what our skin needs the most.

Enter apple (or pyrus malus) fruit extract.

Apples might not be the most exciting ingredient to add to your roster. But as the famous adage – “an apple a day keeps the doctor away”– instructs, it has numerous benefits to offer to your body and skin.

Similar to papaya, apple fruit extract is rich in antioxidants and is a natural source of AHA (alpha hydroxy acids). And the polyphenols and catechins that our favorite green tea is so beloved for? Apple extract has them, too. So, if your skin responds well to these ingredients, it will love apple extract.

So, what are the skin benefits you can expect from incorporating apple-containing products in your routine?

apple fruit extract

Anti-aging benefits. As mentioned above, apple extract is rich in vitamin C that can help fight free radicals and help with skin’s natural regeneration process. So, if you’ve noticed the first signs of premature aging – loss elasticity and dullness – apple fruit extract is a great anti-aging choice for firmer, brighter skin.

Acne and enlarged pores. Apple is a natural astringent, meaning it helps to balance oil production and aid in clearing up the appearance of acne. Apple extract’s tightening properties will also help enlarged pores to appear smaller, giving you an overall balanced, even-looking, and healthier complexion.

Skin smoothing. Apple is a natural source of AHA – a skin-resurfacing group of acids that are excellent exfoliating agents. It will gently exfoliate your skin by working on its surface, breaking down keratins that hold skin cells together to make way for softer, smoother skin.

Last but not least, apple extract has a light, crisp fragrance, which makes it a perfect natural alternative to sensitizing essential oils or artificial fragrances in the formula. Such a multitasker!

Would you be giving an apple fruit extract a try?

 MOTHER MADE products formulated with apple fruit extract

MOTHER MADE Exfoliating Aqua Peel Gel

MOTHER MADE Exfoliating Aqua Peel Gel with Green Tea Explained

Meet our newest addition to MOTHER MADE family! The Exfoliating Aqua Peel Gel with calming and skin-soothing Green Tea Extract. Peel gels have been all the rage in Asia, and it might feel like they’re all the same. But in reality, every peel gel has its own flavour. So, in this post, we’ll give you a quick run-down on what our peel gel is, what drove us to create this product, what makes it special, and how to use it the right way. Keep on reading!

How it all began

Full disclosure – we love ourselves a good scrub. Even though they’ve earned somewhat controversial reputation. Don’t get us wrong; we love chemical exfoliators. But there’s just something so satisfying about touching the post-scrub smooth, evened out, bump-free skin. Unfortunately, conventional scrubs can be quite harsh, especially ones with bigger granules, which is a no-go for sensitive (or easily sensitized) skin. And frankly, despite the pleasant feeling, they aren’t as effective as their chemical counterparts since they only work on the outer layer of the skin.

So, we challenged ourselves to make a product that will deliver the same satisfying scrub feeling with the benefits of the chemical exfoliator.
Almost a year later, we’ve finally launched the Exfoliating Aqua Peel Gel with Green Tea, and it’s everything we’d hoped for.

What it is

Our Peel Gel is a mild exfoliating treatment formulated with both physical AND chemical exfoliants. We opted for natural cellulose, not carbomer, as our physical peeling agent. There were several reasons for that, but that’s a subject for another post. Finely milled, moisture-rich cellulose particles we used in the formula are imported from France and made from Egyptian cotton (so fancy!). The way it works is simple – bits of cellulose interact with natural oils on your skin and ball up once you apply some pressure. These balls/clumps/flakes (take your pick) act as a very gentle scrub that sloughs off dead cells sitting on top of the epidermis ready to go but in way that won’t traumatize your skin.

For the chemical peeling agents, we chose nature-derived extracts that are well-known to be potent but at the same gentle and sensitive skin-friendly.

  • Willow Bark Extract. Naturally rich in salicylic acid, this mild astringent helps to reduce inflammation, control sebum, unclog pores, and de-congest skin. No wonder, it’s a favorite among oily skin types. While this peeling gel does not target at clearing pores specifically, with consistent use, you might notice that your pores become cleaner and pesky blackheads go away naturally.
  • Papaya Extract. Yummy papaya is chock full of an enzyme called papain that is a perfect exfoliant for sensitive skin. Gentle than your regular AHAs, it will work on the outer layer breaking down excess keratin to help the skin appear brighter and smoother.
  • Apple Extract. Like papaya, apple extract is rich in antioxidants (Vitamin C is one of them), and it is also a natural source of AHA. This extract has astringent properties and can help minimize the appearance of enlarged pores, clear acne, and regulate oil production.

Two types of exfoliants make for an excellent team, ensuring that every nook and cranny of your skin is clean and refreshed!

Other additional skincare benefits

As the name suggests, we added Green Tea Extract that has well researched and documented anti-aging skin benefits. It also helps to soothe and calm down the skin, which feels wonderful after a long hot summer day. Ascorbyl Glucoside, or Vitamin C, is another antioxidant gem that’s made it into the formula. It helps fight free radicals that speed up the aging process in our skin and will also deliver brightening effect with consistent use.

Who’s it for?

It’s for everyone, really! Any skin type can reap multiple benefits from using this peel gel. Drier skin types will love how hydrating this product feels on the skin. People with combination to oily skin will appreciate the addition of astringents that help with sebum control and pore care. We especially recommend it for those who love scrubs in their skincare routine, but whose skin for some reason or another can’t tolerate them well. Alas, if you hate the feeling of scrub in any way or form, this might not be for use.

How to use

If you’re familiar with Korean peel gels, you might know that most of them require dry skin as a starting canvas. Otherwise, they won’t clump. With our peeling gel, we recommend applying it on damp skin. How damp? Well, it depends. Cellulose bits will clump more or less depending on how dry or damp your skin is. If you want the stronger scrub effect, dampen the face only slighly. If your skin is sensitized, introduce more water to make everything extra mild and smooth. You can even make a paste and leave it for several minutes to let chemical peels time to interact with your skin.

Our general recommendation is to use it 1-3 times a week, but always check in with your skin. If your skin is super sensitive and dry, using the Peel Gel once a week will suffice. But you feel extra congested and bumpy, increase the frequency. The bottom line is – whatever you do, make sure not to over-exfoliate. Too much of a good thing can quickly turn into a bad thing, right?