What is a chemical exfoliant? What is a solution? How do I use a chemical exfoliant? Do I need to use a chemical exfoliant? What else can I use when I use a chemical exfoliant?
Let’s get into the nitty gritty but also big picture, starting with a dictionary:
Chemical Exfoliation (v): Remove dead skin cells and push skin turnover. They are known to help smooth the skin as well as help it glow. As we get older the turnover of cells slows and using a chemical exfoliant helps speed that process back up giving us the skin we had back in the day.
AHA (n): Alpha-hydroxy acid. Works on the skin’s surface, enhancing our skin’s moisture by breaking down what holds dead skin cells together. Because of that grossness, it is normally recommended for people with dry skin. BUT on average AHA is water soluble, meaning it doesn’t get into your pores.
BHA (n): Beta-hydroxy acid. Is not water soluble making it capable of getting deep into our pores. This makes it more popular for people with oily skin and skin prone to clogged pores. It also is great for sensitive skin because it is naturally more gentle.
Lactic Acid (n): Is a type of AHA that comes from milk (weird) and works on the surface which makes it more gentle. It helps improve texture, reduce discoloration and prevents breakouts. It is said to lighten the skin which again is weird but makes sense since it helps with dark spots.
Glycolic Acid (n): Is also an AHA but it is the smallest form which allows it to penetrate into the skin. Besides doing everything stated above that AHA’s do Glycolic acid also stimulates collagen production. It helps clear out pores, blackheads and improve skin texture and color.
Retinol (n): Not an acid I know but is in the same conversation. Retinol is a type of Vitamin A and seems to do similar things to your skin that acids do: unclog skin, firmness, discoloration and overall anti-aging. The main difference, it is not an exfoliant, it enhances properties of your skin.
ok okay, these all sound the same….they technically are. So which do you use? The ones your skin likes best.
Now to the popular products out there that contain acids…well the ones I have 😉
Dr. Dennis Gross Alpha Beta Peel Pads: has both AHA and BHA as well as something that helps protect skin from the shit in the environment. Peels are a combination of acids that remove the dead skin cells and then treat the fresh skin with anti-aging ingredients that brighten and firm your skin. I really like how these are pre-soaked pads and you’re getting a lot of product each time. They are pricey not going to lie to you but I think they are worth it. I noticed a difference right off the bat and even now after starting to use them again after a few months off. I have started to cut them in half…money saver! Putting the other half back in and wrapping it up in a hair tie.
Paula’s Choice: First off they have an awesome quiz that helps you find the best AHA/BHA product for you because they have a lot! I have the pore refining treatment with 2% BHA. Each product has different percentages of AHA or BHA and targets specific things along with different formulations. Great if you are a little picky!
Glossier Solution: Has both BHA and AHA (lactic acid + glycolic)- double duty! Wait, it also has PHA which I am new to. PHA is another type of AHA or from the same chemical family (?) but attract water which helps moisturize your skin. So it does everything discussed above for the great Glossier price tag. It also has aloe which helps soothe after all the chemicals. This has a cool press and releases trigger (I don’t know what to call it) that you put a cotton swab or ball on. I don’t know if it’s because I am using a ball vs swab but I felt like I needed to press into the container a lot to get the ball wet. This is sounding weird. I’m done.
Sunday Riley Good Genes Lactic Acid Treatment: Has 5% lactic acid as well as licorice, lemongrass, and aloe which all help with radiance, brightness and soothing. Marketed mainly for sun damage, large pores and keep your skin clear.
Biologique Recherche P50 Toner: Honestly this French brand is too cool to share a ton about itself besides the fact its beloved haha. It is made up of lactic acid, onion extract, and salicylic acid. I got the mini size over a year ago and use it sparingly but overall like it! I am thinking that when my beta peel pads run out I will get the big bottle of this instead. It does smell weird but feels awesome and after lots of stalking learned how you should be applying it. Press and release the cotton pad upward moving along the sides of your face not concentrating as much on your cheeks that tend to react more. Guessing this should be how you apply all chemical exfoliants.
Sunday Riley Luna Night Oil: A retinol oil that aims to boost the plumpness of skin while doing everything else a retinol does through the night. I love this product and have found better results when I am not skimping on it and use a full pump.
Okay so now what? Which do I use? Can I use them together? Some people say hell no NEVER use one in the AM one in the PM. Others say this is a myth and if your skin can handle it go for it. You can also combine retinol and vitamin C, so throw that in there too!
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