Chemical exfoliation continues to grow in popularity in the skincare community, and is now an imperative step in a skincare routine. Chemical exfoliants effectively are acids that get rid of dead skin cells, they aid in improving ones complexion, brightening the skin and fading scars and blemishes on the face.
Benefits of using exfoliants
Chemical exfoliants are beneficial to combatting and treating many skin issues and concerns, such as acne, dry and bumpy/textured, as well as after effects of sun damage and ageing.
Clinical experience has proven that including chemical exfoliation as a part of your skincare routine, helps clear up conditions such as acne quicker. Quicker clearance and treatment leads to less scarring. Most of the body's sebaceous glands are located on the face, back, and chest. Acne is most commonly found in these areas. It is caused by epidermal hyperproliferation, a process that occurs when the follicle becomes clogged by the epidermal cells lining it, which leads to the formation of open and closed comedones. Exfoliating the dead surface cells of the skin allows for better absorption and optimization of topical skin care products.
Ageing skin improves dramatically with the regular use of exfoliants. Skin becomes firmer and smoother, and there is an increased thickening of the skin at the deeper layers.
Extremely dry skin becomes less of a challenge when it is treated with exfoliants. Moisturizers are more effective and better absorbed on exfoliated, dry skin.
AHAs, BHAs & PHAs
There are three main types of chemical exfoliant. All are acids, but some are gentler and less penetrative than others, these consist of AHAs, BHAs and PHAs.
Alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs)
AHAs include the likes of glycolic, lactic, citric, and malic acid. They tend to come from fruits, but can also be produced synthetically.
With the ability to dissolve in water, they work on the surface of the skin to improve its texture.
Glycolic and lactic acid are commonly used AHAs in skin care. Opt for a concentration of between 5 and 10 percent for high effectiveness.
Beta hydroxy acids (BHAs)
BHAs are oil-soluble, so they can penetrate your pores, as well as work on the skin’s surface.
These deeper-working acids not only benefit skin texture, but also unclog pores and remove acne-causing sebum.
Examples of BHAs include salicylic acid and tropic acid.
Poly hydroxy acids (PHAs)
PHAs work in a similar way to AHAs. “The difference is that PHA molecules are larger, so they cannot penetrate as deeply.
And although they don’t go as deep, PHAs have additional hydrating and antioxidant benefits.
What should you use to exfoliate?
Certain skin types gain more from AHAs, BHAs, and so on. Figure out your skin concern and you’ll be on your way to finding the right hydroxy acid.
If you have dry or sensitive skin?
BHAs can soothe and calm skin, making them ideal for sensitive skin types or people who experience redness.
If you have oily or acne-prone skin?
BHAs, particularly salicylic acid, are great for clearing pores of all the substances that can lead to breakouts.
If you have combination skin
Combination skin requires the best of both worlds. Go for a serum containing salicylic acid for an anti-inflammatory exfoliating effect.
If you have mature skin
AHAs can help diminish the signs of ageing by targeting fine lines and deeper wrinkles. They can also deal with roughness, leaving skin glowing.
If you have hyperpigmentation or scarring
To reduce the visibility of dark marks and scars, use a BHA like salicylic acid that can encourage skin cell turnover or a strong AHA formula.
If you have signs of sun damage
AHAs have been proven to be effective in reducing the appearance of sun damage.