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Exfoliation - What's the Difference?

We’ve all heard about exfoliation and how it’s good for our skin but only if it's done correctly. Exfoliation helps to keep our skin active, smooth and youthful; but do you know the difference in exfoliation? We all know that our favorite ingredients like Enzymes, BHAs and AHAs exfoliate; but how are they different?



We’ve all heard about exfoliation and how it’s good for our skin but only if it's done correctly. Exfoliation helps to keep our skin active, smooth and youthful; but do you know the difference in exfoliation? We all know that our favorite ingredients like Enzymes, BHAs and AHAs exfoliate; but how are they different?  3 Types of Exfoliation

  1. Enzymatic Exfoliation: Considered the “Pac Man” in skincare.  Most gentle form of exfoliation that uses fruit enzymes to digest dead skin cells on the outer layer of the Stratum Corneum.

  • There are many different fruit enzymes, but the most common are Bromelain and Papain which are derived from pineapple and papaya. Pumpkin and Protease Enzymes are considered stronger forms of exfoliation. Enzymes eat away the dead skin cells sitting on the surface of our skin, helping to smooth and brighten any complexion.

  • Glymed Plus products with Enzymes: Ultra-Hydrating Enzyme Masque, Restorative Skin Clarifying Masque, Chocolate Power Skin Rescue Masque, YOUTH Firm® Age Defying Peel, and Intense Antioxidant Professional Exfoliator.

  1. Chemical Exfoliants:  Dissolves and detaches desmosomes that hold skin cells together. If you picture our epidermis like a brick wall, the cement is the intercellular cement and the bricks represent our skin cells. Chemical exfoliants go in and dissolve and detach the cement holding the bricks together, allowing for a deep exfoliation.

  • Beta Hydroxy Acids (BHAs): Dissolves desmosomes, oil and dead skin cells while also cleaning into the pore to relieve congestion. BHAs help to clear bacteria and reduce inflammation, making them perfect for your combination to oily clients, especially those with acne. Salicylic Acid is a BHA and is derived from willow bark. Combination/Oily/Acne

  • Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHAs): Detaches desmosome (glue) connections between cells and penetrate deeper than BHAs – allowing a deeper exfoliation. Great for ALL skin conditions and grades of acne. Derived from fruit and plants, Glycolic, Lactic, Malic, Mandelic, Tartaric and Citric Acid are all AHAs. ALL Skin types, especially Aging/Photo Damage

  • GlyMed Plus Products that contain Chemical Exfoliants: Gentle Facial Wash, Gentle Facial Wash with Biocell-sc, Facial Hydrator, AHA Accelerator, AHA Accelerator with Biocell-sc, Skin Gel, Treatment Cream, Treatment Cream with Biocell-sc, Anti-Aging Exfoliant Masque, Serious Action Masque, Alpha Therapeutic Hand and Body Lotion, Alpha Therapeutic Ultimate Body Scrub, Intense Antioxidant Professional Exfoliator, Lactic Action 30 Exfoliator, Lactic Action 50 Exfoliator, and Chocolate Power Skin Rescue Peel.

  1. Mechanical Exfoliation: Physically rubbing and removing dead skin cells from the stratum corneum to reveal smooth, new skin.

  • Ingredients like jojoba beads, micro beads, refined powders and corundum crystal are used in a variety of cleansers and masques to safety remove dead skin build-up. The ingredient used will determine on how deep of an exfoliation is achieved. Remember that exfoliating is different than tearing the stratum corneum. Ingredients that are too textured or abrasive, like walnut or apricot shell, can cause trauma by creating micro tears that can inhabit bacteria, making some skin conditions like acne even worse. Just because it has an abrasive texture does not mean it is better.  All Skin conditions except Rosacea Stages & Acne Grades 3&4. Especially great for thick or resistive skin.

  • GlyMed Plus Products that contain Mechanical Exfoliation: Anti-Aging Exfoliant Masque, Sal-X Exfoliating Cleanser, Exfoliant Wash, Professional Micro Scrub with PC10, Serious Action Masque, and the Alpha Therapeutic Ultimate Body Scrub.

Knowing and understanding how different ingredients work will help us to determine which exfoliation is best for our clients and their skin conditions. Recommending the right exfoliator for your client will help you to achieve optimum results!


If you have any questions and would like to speak to one of our friendly Master Aestheticians in your area please email support@glymedplusaustralia.com.au

Exfoliation - What's the Difference
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Written by The Institute of Skin Science

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