Why Your Skin Needs Both Chemical and Physical Exfoliation

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Exfoliating is GP’s favorite skin trick, and it really works. One of the easiest ways to boost glow, help clear up your skin, minimize the appearance of sun damage, and maintain a beautiful complexion is to exfoliate regularly. Not only does sweeping away dead skin cells, grime, pollution, and makeup residue have the instant benefit of deep-cleaning your pores to make your skin look brighter and feel silkier; it also allows any serums, treatments, and moisturizers you apply afterward to penetrate deeper and work more effectively. Whether you exfoliate daily or a few times a week depends on your skin type and how sensitive it is, but just about everyone’s skin benefits from a combination of both physical and chemical exfoliation.

  1. Physical

    goop Beauty GOOPGLOW Microderm Instant Glow Exfoliator

  2. Chemical

    goop Beauty GOOPGLOW 15% Glycolic Overnight Glow Peel

Both chemical and physical exfoliants remove dead skin cells and other debris, helping speed cell turnover, so they can leave your skin fresher, brighter, and clearer, with minimized pores and a smoother surface. The difference is that chemical exfoliants use acids or enzymes to dissolve and loosen the cells, while physical
exfoliants—products containing small particles, or any sort of textured surface, like a
washcloth—work by scrubbing away the dead skin and debris. The two approaches actually
complement each other if used correctly, optimizing cell turnover to smooth, polish, and
retexturize your skin.

  1. Tata Harper Elixir Vitae

    Tata Harper
    Elixir Vitae
    goop, $450


  2. goop Beauty G.Tox Malachite + AHA Pore Refining Tonic

    goop Beauty
    G.Tox Malachite + AHA
    Pore Refining Tonic

    goop, $75/$68 with subscription


It’s important to note that whether you’re using physical, chemical, or both types of exfoliants, it’s possible to overdo it. Exfoliating too much strips away the skin’s protective barrier, leaving it vulnerable to sun damage, dryness, and even infection. For example, you wouldn’t want to use any other type of exfoliant for at least twenty-four hours (and up to a week, depending on your skin sensitivity) before or after using the GOOPGLOW Overnight Peel, which comes in two strengths: 15% (for experienced exfoliators) and 5% (for sensitive skin), as it’s (brilliantly) super powerful. Similarly, on a day you used the GOOPGLOW Microderm face scrub, you’d avoid using a daily treatment like the amazing Elixir Vitae from Tata Harper, or the deep-blue G.Tox skin tonic from goop (both contain chemical exfoliants).

To figure out your skin’s perfect exfoliation balance, take it slow at first. Never use a product more often than recommended (the peel pads should be used only once a week; the Microderm can be done up to three times a week, for instance) and never layer products in the same session. As your skin acclimates to exfoliation, you may be able to increase the frequency with which you use some products, but the moment your skin starts to feel at all irritated or stripped, dial it back down. Once you find the sweet spot for your skin, the results should be noticeable—smoother, brighter, fresher, and clearer, with a glow that just won’t stop.


  1. goop Beauty goopglow glow lotion

    goop Beauty
    goopglow glow lotion
    goop, $58/$52 with subscription


  2. Kora Organics Turmeric Glow Moisturizer

    KORA Organics
    Turmeric Glow Moisturizer
    goop, $58


  3. Unsun Mineral Tinted Face Sunscreen

    Mineral Tinted Face Sunscreen
    goop, $29


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