Which Products are Better for Exfoliating: Scrubs or Chemical Exfoliation?

Exfoliation is important, it not only keeps your skin clean but by removing the layers of dead skin cells, your skin is able to absorb skincare products more effectively. We know that exfoliation is a crucial step in caring for our skin, but which method of exfoliation is better for our skin, chemical, or manual? In this article, we’ll explore whether facial scrubs or chemical exfoliation like salicylic acid and fruit acids are better for our skin and why. Let’s find out!

The differences between fruit acid and salicylic acid:

The main difference between salicylic acid and fruit acids is that fruit acids are water-soluble and salicylic acid is fat-soluble. Because salicylic acid is fat-soluble it easily penetrates into oily pores and breaks down the keratinocytes that age your skin.

Tips: Generally speaking, salicylic acid is better suited for the treatment of blackheads and acne. In contrast, fruit acids are better for aging skin, or skin that has been damaged by ultraviolet light.

Regular use of salicylic, or fruit acid has also been shown to improve skin tone and elasticity. And it can prevent pore obstruction and aide in the absorption of other skincare products, such as moisturizers. In addition, these acids also benefit the appearance of the skin by reducing the effects of aging caused by damage.

Things to keep in mind when using fruit, or salicylic acids:

When the effect of fruit acid and salicylic acid reaches a certain extent, there will be a limit. This means that while the acid will remove dead and damaged skin cells from the surface of your skin, the acids will not affect healthy skin. These products are formulated with an acid strength that is not capable of excessive exfoliation, making them safe for use without fear of further damage.


The decision to use fruit acid, or salicylic acid and the concentration you choose should be determined according to your own skin conditions. It is best to start with a low concentration and gradually increase the strength of your product as needed, to prevent excessive dryness, or skin irritation. It is best to use it under the guidance of a professional doctor.

The advantages and disadvantages of using a facial scrub:

When we think of exfoliating our skin, our first thought is usually of using a scrub. Facial scrubs are a suitable exfoliation option for most people. Reasonable use of facial scrubs will not lead to skin irritation or injury. However, it is important to remember that when using an abrasive scrub it is important not to scrub too hard.


When compared to exfoliating acids, scrubs are less likely to cause dry skin or irritation. This makes them ideal for people with sensitive skin, but like any method of exfoliating improper use can lead to undesired results.


Exfoliating scrubs are designed to remove only the top layer of dead skin cells and are unable to penetrate as deeply into pores. The abrasive particles in most face scrubs are not uniform and vary in shape and size. This makes it easier to unintentionally damage to healthy skin and cause further problems. Because of this, we do not recommend using facial scrubs.

How to choose: Salicylic Acid or Fruit Acid?

Fruit Acid

Generally speaking, the choice of well-formulated fruit acid or salicylic acid products is better than the common sanding products. When choosing which products to use, keep in mind that Fruit acid is better for neutral skin, dry skin, delicate skin and skin that has been damaged by excessive sun, or tanning bed exposure.

Fruit acids can only affect the outermost layer of the skin and will not penetrate into pores, so the chances of irritation or drying of the skin are very low. The most recommended concentrations of fruit acid are 5-10%, with a PH value of 3-4 (acid). It should be ranked second, or third in the product composition table.

Salicylic Acid

Salicylic acid works on neutral, oily, and mixed skin types. It is also the best choice for people with acne. Salicylic acid penetrates deep into pores to remove oils, dirt, and anti-acne. This is because of its oil-based nature, anti-inflammatory capability and mild bactericidal effect.

Unlike fruit acid, salicylic acid doesn’t need such a high concentration. So, it should be in the middle, or back of the composition table.


When checking the ingredients of the product, keep in mind that some ingredients may sound like fruit acids. These ingredients are usually listed as sugar cane extract, mixed fruit acid, milk extract, etc. Be aware that these ingredients are not fruit acids, nor are they better than fruit acid.

The product you choose should have ingredients listed as glycolic acid, lactic acid, citric acid, or tartaric acid. If none of these ingredients are present, the product does not contain any fruit acid and does not have an exfoliating effect.


Some people may experience allergic reactions to salicylic acid. People who are allergic to aspirin are at the highest risk for these reactions. Salicylic acid and aspirin have similar chemical structures. If you are allergic to aspirin, you should take caution in using products containing salicylic acid.

Please patch test on a small area of skin and wait 24 hours, to exclude the chance of an allergic reaction. Use under the guidance of a doctor is also recommended.


Scrubs, Salicylic Acid, Fruit Acid, Exfoliate…

What is exfoliation and why do we need to exfoliate?

Exfoliation is the process of removing the outermost layer of cutin using manual or chemical methods. If the cuticular layer falls off naturally under ideal circumstances, why do we have to exfoliate?

Changes in various factors, such as age, environment, metabolism, and stress from work and life, can lead to changes in the condition of our cuticular layer. The old horniness, grease, and dirt that pile up on the face can make the skin rough, dim and dull. In addition, it also affects the absorption capacity of the skin. So, it’s necessary to exfoliate regularly.

Do acne and blackheads need to be exfoliated?

Salicylic acid or fruit acid products can be selected to treat acne. However, the use of products containing both of these ingredients may lead to a larger outbreak of acne at an early stage. Because these two ingredients can accelerate the renewal of skin cells, thus accelerating the emergence of potential acne. So acne can be removed faster.

If you can not accept the extent of your acne outbreak, you can appropriately reduce the frequency of use and the concentration of use. This phenomenon is generally temporary, after which the skin will appear in a cleaner and smoother state. If your acne does not go away for a long time, you should see a doctor immediately.

Is my skin peeling because it is not exfoliated?

Peeling is a sign of a lack of moisture in the skin and has nothing to do with a lack of exfoliation. Normal keratinocyte shedding does not cause peeling. Peeling occurs when the moisture content of the skin epidermis is too low, not because there are too many aging cuticular layers. If you are experiencing skin peeling, you should focus on replenishing water and moisturizing your skin.

Do I need to wash my face with a facial cleanser before exfoliating?

It is ideal to wash your face before exfoliating, you can use a facial cleanser to remove the excess oils on your face. Wash your face with warm water helps soften the cuticular layer of the skin and allows the exfoliation products to work better. Do not use exfoliated products and then wash your face with facial cleanser.

After exfoliating, your skin is in a vulnerable state and prone to irritation. The new sebaceous membranes have not yet been formed and the skin can not stand the irritation of facial cleanser. So remember, do not exfoliate and then immediately use a facial cleanser.

Can I apply a face mask after exfoliating?

Many people will apply a face mask immediately after exfoliation, thinking that the mask can converge pores immediately after removing the old cutin. Some people even believe that the mask can make the product more effective, but none of this is true.

After exfoliating, our skin is relatively fragile and masks are quick-acting. some components of facial masks are also irritating, especially on skin that has just been deep cleaned. In fact, you only need to do a good job of exfoliating and moisturizing, do not have to use special face masks.

Kana Z

Kana Z

I am a writer focussing on beauty, cosmetics, skincare, haircare and body care. I have a special interest in establishing solutions for problem skin. I have being working and studing with some of the world’s top skincare experts, hairstylists, makeup artists, perfume creators, photographers and models. I also currently write for websites of the skincare brand. My Specialties: beauty, journalism, skincare, haircare, cosmetics and problem skin.

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