Can you use AHAs/ BHAs and Scrubs together?

The short answer is, it depends....


Lets recap on the difference between the two categories:

1- Mechanical - This means you can use tools such as brushes, pumice stones, electronic devices or products that are formulated with abrasives. The coarser and the more aggressive materials are generally used in products meant for the body while options that deliver a more gentle exfoliation are used for face. Pay attention here as some of the coarser grains like large particle size salts, sugars and ground pits, which are used extensively in the industry, can actually cause micro tears in the skin during application. 

In my opinion a gentle exfoliant should have no distinct abrasive components for facial application. I know some of us are used to the aggressive nature of the scrubs and subscribe to "no pain no gain" but this is not true when it comes to your face!

2- Chemical - This type exfoliation is often achieved with the use of alpha-hydroxy acids (AHAs) glycolic and lactic acids and/or Beta-hydroxy acids (BHA), such as Salicylic acids. These acids vary in potency and irritancy based on their molecular size and chemical structures. They are frequently used to substantiate anti-aging claims. They are very effective in treating acne, blackheads and Milia (those annoying little white heads).

AHAs & BHAs can be incorporated into a variety of product bases and are used in multiple product categories. The drawback to the use of chemical exfoliants is potential skin sensitivity. Individuals can react to the chemical exfoliants based on the pH of the product, the types of exfoliant used and the concentration of the ingredients used. 
Now can we use both types at the same time? I would say yes but, you have to be careful with the concentration of the chemical exfoliants and the abrasiveness of the mechanical exfoliant. Let me give you an example. Imagine you use a heavy scrub which, as I mentioned, can introduce micro tears in your skin. Now you decide to use the chemical exfoliant, something like glycolic acid at 14% concentration. This could be a recipe for stressing your skin big time. The pH of the AHA and the tears in the skin would interact to cause a burning sensation that is not pleasant. But mild AHAs/BHAs and a gentle mechanical exfoliant like BOA actually work quite well together. The chemical exfoliants work on the cellular level, breaking down the cell structure and penetrating the pores while gentle BOA exfoliant (like a lint roller) picks up these dead cells and cleans the skin in one go.


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