Chemical Exfoliation for Newbies

Modern Friction Pads Collage

It sounds oddly sinister for a skincare process. Like the kind of thing a villian in a James Bond movie might be plotting.

Chemical exfoliation.

Seriously, they (the beauty powers that be, of course) need to think of a better name for it because up until recently, I was scared of it because of the name alone. But it can be so good for your skin, and – unbeknownst to me – I was already doing it.

Essentially, there are two types of exfoliation: physical and chemical. Physical is your typical squeezy-tube-of-scrubby-stuff, buzzing-Clarisonic style exfoliation. It means using something physically abrasive – salt or sugar granules or a brush – to slough off dead skin cells and give cell turnover a boost.

Chemical exfoliation does the same thing, but without the physical scrubbing. Instead, it uses chemicals – namely, acids – to get rid of dead skin cells.

Lots of acids do this! Salicylic acid is my favourite, simply because my skin responds well to it – and I was already using a few products that contained this exfoliating acid. Other acids that unblock pores and get rid of dead skin include lactic acid (found in dairy products – that’s why yogurt masks are good), and glycolic acid. But fruit acids can have a similar effect – enter good ol’ Origins.

Their new Modern Friction Instant Brightening Peel Pads offer the chemical exfoliation newbie a gentle, unintimidating step into what sounds like a super scary world. I don’t know about instant brightening, but I’ve used the pads for a few weeks and I can safely say that I see results: fewer dry flakies, acne scars fading quicker, and an overall added glowiness.

It comes with 40 pads for around $40, which is expensive. They’re recommended for twice-weekly use, but I’d say start with once a week and see how your skin responds. Mine tingles a little when I apply it, which I take as a sign that I ought to only use the pads once a week for now.

As someone who was interested in chemical exfoliants but too scared to (consciously) incorporate them into my routine, I’m seriously pleased that Origins brought out this product.

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