I wouldn’t be exaggerating if I said chemical exfoliation changed my skin. Earlier, I used to aggressively scrub my skin with the hope of getting rid of all the blackheads and whiteheads. All I got in return was no results and irritated skin with a weak barrier. Oh, add some acne too!
It’s been more than 2 years since I first started (2018) to take skincare seriously. There wasn’t a lot of information about skincare (at least I didn’t come across them) so I just picked whatever felt right.
After browsing through a few websites, I decided to start exfoliating my skin with The Ordinary Glycolic Acid Toner and I could see a clear difference in just a few weeks! After that, I continued exploring and experimenting with different exfoliating acids to see how they work.
My (oily, acne-prone sensitive) skin is a lot clearer and healthier and even though I still get some skin issues from time to time (because LIFE!!) I can admit my skin never stopped looking healthy or glowing.
Recently, there has been a boom in the skincare industry with every brand launching multiple chemical exfoliants and the consumers are left confused. The various types of acids at different strengths have raised a lot of questions like:
- Which chemical exfoliator is right for my skin?
- How to use chemical exfoliants?
- Can it harm my skin?
In this post, I’ve tried to give you a basic idea to keep in mind when you’re trying to find the right chemical exfoliator for your skin type.
WHAT IS CHEMICAL EXFOLIATION?
Chemical exfoliation is a process that involves using products (mainly acids) that break down dead skin cells and unclog the pores. These exfoliating acids have multiple other benefits like increased cell turnover, brighter skin, anti-inflammatory effects, etc.
Regular usage of chemical exfoliants keeps your pores unclogged and can prevent the formation of acne. Personally, I’ve used salicylic acid as a spot treatment on acne too and it works wonders by drying them out.
What Are The Benefits of Using Chemical Exfoliators?
- Removes trapped dead skin cells
- Unclogs the pores
- Prevents acne
- Usually gives a brighter skin tone
- Gentler than rough physical exfoliators
- Have other properties like anti-ageing, antioxidants, and humectants
Disclosure: Contains affiliate links. I receive a small commission for purchases made via them.
CHOOSING THE RIGHT CHEMICAL EXFOLIATOR FOR YOUR SKIN TYPE
All the recommendations made for each skin type is a general guideline and isn’t something you should strictly adhere to. If you’ve already found something that works the best for you then keep going!
Personally I like to use Salicylic Acid, Azelaic Acid, and Glycolic Acid depending on how my skin feels. Trust me once you start and monitor your skin closely, you’ll be able to listen to your skin too!
However, if you’re a beginner and completely confused about how to even choose the right chemical exfoliator for your skin type and start using it, this simple guide will clear all your doubts. I’ve added some of the best cruelty-free exfoliants for each skin type so you can explore your options!
Chemical Exfoliants For Oily Skin
People with oily skin continuously struggle with overproduction of oil which leads to clogged pores. This causes blackheads, whiteheads, and acne! Salicylic acid has to be the best chemical exfoliator for oily skin types.
It is oil-soluble and goes deep inside your pores to take out the trapped oil and dirt and keeps your pores clean. This acid, for example, The Ordinary Salicylic Acid 2% Solution, reduces oil-production and is also anti-inflammatory so it makes inflamed acne go away faster. You can either opt for a leave-on salicylic acid serum/toner or use a salicylic acid facewash for daily mild exfoliation.
Chemical Exfoliants For Dry Skin
People with dry skin can really benefit from a chemical exfoliator that can provide hydration as well as take off dead skin and flakiness from the surface.
If you have dry skin, you need to get either glycolic acid or lactic acid! They’re both excellent exfoliants that break down dead skin cells and also reduce pigmentation. Make sure to apply sunscreen generously and avoid the sun during peak hours as AHAs increase skin’s sensitivity to the sun.
Related: 10 Sunscreen Facts You Need To Know!
Chemical Exfoliants For Sensitive Skin
Sensitive skin has great trouble in finding the perfect chemical exfoliator that won’t irritate their skin. If you’re one of them, look for mandelic acid or PHA (Polyhydroxy acid) as they have larger molecules that don’t penetrate too deep inside. These are found to cause minimal to no skin irritation.
Another one that you can try is Azelaic acid, like The Ordinary Azelaic Acid Suspension, that has multiple skincare benefits like calming down irritated skin along with very mild exfoliation.
Chemical ExfoliaNTS For Normal/Combination Skin
If you’re one of the lucky lads with normal or combination skin, you can basically try any exfoliating acid that targets your main skin concern the best way.
You can alternate between glycolic acid and salicylic acid or choose others depending on how your skin is feeling. Pick out any product that you want to try from other skin categories and get started with some chemical exfoliation!
Can you use chemical exfoliators daily?
One thing to remember when it comes to exfoliation is that DO NOT go overboard. The ideal frequency is to exfoliate your skin with leave-on products no more than 2-3x/week. When you start over-exfoliating, your skin’s barrier weakens and you end up with more troubled skin.
If you are using them as a wash-off treatment (cleansers, face masks) or at an extremely low strength, they can be used daily.
Want to know more about these acids? Read my blog on different skincare acids and how you can benefit from them.