Building the ultimate skincare routine is all about covering your bases with products that are right for you. One of the main essential building blocks of skincare is exfoliation. However, the methods of exfoliation have evolved as the methods of the skincare and wellness world have progressed, so it’s time to update your exfoliation approach. For many of us, when we think of exfoliation, we think of using a shower gel containing beads or granules and scrubbing away with a loofah. Whilst yes, this can (when using the right ingredients) be a great option for exfoliating our bodies, it is not so suitable for the soft and sensitive skin on our faces. Even as a tween, I remember using facial cleansers containing little plastic beads, which spoiler alert, did not do my skin any favors! So, what should we be using for facial exfoliation nowadays? The answer is... chemical exfoliants! Say goodbye to lackluster skin and hello to a radiant smooth complexion by incorporating the ideal exfoliant for your skin into your beauty regime.
What are chemical exfoliants?
Chemical exfoliants are types of exfoliants that use chemicals, rather than physical granules to remove dead skin cells. These exfoliants typically contain ingredients like alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) and beta hydroxy acids (BHAs). Chemical exfoliants can come in many forms, including toners, serums, and masks. They are a great alternative to the gritty and abrasive physical exfoliants that we’re used to.
What is an AHA exfoliant?
AHA stands for alpha-hydroxy acid and is derived from plant sources such as sugarcane or fruit. It works by breaking down the bonds between dead skin cells, revealing a brighter, smoother complexion. AHA exfoliants have several benefits for our skin. A significant benefit is that they can reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, as well as helping to stimulate collagen production, so they are a great option for those of us who are looking for anti-ageing skincare. There are several types of AHA exfoliants, but some popular varieties include glycolic acid and lactic acid.
What is a BHA exfoliant?
BHA stands for beta-hydroxy acid, an oil-soluble acid that works by penetrating deep into the pores to clear out excess oil and dirt, as well as lifting dead skin cells to reveal a layer of healthy, radiant skin underneath. BHAs tend to be on the harsher side, as they are able to reach the deep layers of our skin, as opposed to AHAs which function at the surface layer of the skin.
Which chemical exfoliant is right for me?
As with any form of skincare, there is an abundance of products on the market, leaving us with an overwhelming plethora of options. This means that it can be difficult for us to know what product is right for us. The best suited exfoliant for you is largely dependent on your skin type, which is why it is imperative that you first know what skin type you have so that you can treat it correctly.
Dry or sensitive skin
If you have dry skin, it is best to opt for an AHA as this is the gentler of the chemical exfoliants. Dryness also tends to be a more surface-level skin concern, which is the layer at which AHAs operate.
If you have oily or acne prone skin, using a BHA is a great option as it is most effective at penetrating deep into the pores to address this skin concern. It will fight oil and remove dead skin cells clogging our pores, as well as improve skin texture and help repair acne scars.
If you have combination skin, you have a bit more freedom when it comes to selecting a chemical exfoliant for your skin. You can use either AHA or BHA exfoliants, or even use them both together! The two types of chemical exfoliants can be layered if your skin can handle it, or you can use one in the morning and one at night. Remember to always follow your chemical exfoliant with a good application of SPF!
It is important to note that both AHAs and BHAs are strong humectants, meaning they have a peeling effect which can cause the skin to become dry or even irritated if they are overused, particularly if your skin isn’t used to them. This is why it is best to ease your skin into the use of chemical exfoliants and keep to using them a few times a week rather than every day. Additionally, make sure you check with your dermatologist or skincare specialist to check if chemical exfoliation is right for you.
So, it’s time to part with your abrasive physical exfoliant in favors of the more modern option! Incorporating a chemical exfoliant into your skincare regime might just be that extra kick that your skin needs to really glow!