Exfoliants are one of the three daily essential skin care products that everybody should be using. The other two are sunscreens and topical antioxidants. We get a lot of questions from viewers about what’s the difference between chemical and physical exfoliants, and can you use them both, especially, can you use them both at the same time? Chemical exfoliants are skin care products that are applied to the skin to help dissolve away extra dead cells that have accumulated that should have fallen off long ago. They work by chemically dissolving the glue between those cells. You see, your skin cells are a little bit like a brick wall, where the bricks are the skin cells and the mortar holding the bricks together is like the glue between the skin cells, and the chemical exfoliants dissolve either the glue, so the cells fall apart and fall off, or it actually dissolves the cells by themselves. Chemical exfoliants are particularly well-suited for people with either sensitive skin or small-pored skin but they really can be used by everybody. Physical exfoliants really are mechanical exfoliants and they work by mechanically removing those same hanger-on dead cells that should have fallen off. Shaving is a form of physical exfoliation. That’s the reason why, at the same age, often men’s skin looks better than women’s skin because men have been exfoliating at least two-thirds of their face by shaving ever since they were early teenagers. Another form of physical exfoliation is microdermabrasion. It’s a little bit like sandblasting where you actually almost take sandpaper to mechanically abrade off or push off those dead cells. Granular cleansers are another form of physical exfoliation and physical exfoliation is best-suited for people with oily skin and large-pored skin but can be used by people with other types of skin. The answer to whether you can use both, you certainly can alternate back and forth between chemical exfoliants and physical exfoliants, depending on your skin type, but nobody should use both types at the same time. That’s a sure formula for getting irritated skin. So whether you are using a chemical exfoliant or a physical exfoliant, make sure you regularly use one of them.