Your Guide to Chemical Exfoliation – Times of India


Exfoliation is one of the most important steps in the skincare routine and if done right, can give you glowing skin, but if you try to fluke exfoliation it can ruin your life (This is an exaggeration, but it is pretty bad). It’s like a relationship, it can sometimes irritate you, can be emotional and stressful. But, it is the best thing that can happen to you. We have heard about physical exfoliation, this is the only exfoliation that was given to us when we first entered the game of skincare. We were given a face wash, a scrub and a moisturiser. Let’s first talk about the mechanics of physical exfoliation. You can use scrubs or silicon brushes to exfoliate your skin. Physical scrubs use grains to give you that deep cleaning but if not used gently it can cause micro-tears in your skin and do more harm than good.

As you start going from level 1 to level 10 in the skincare game, you will come across different areas of skincare, be it the monster of DIY trends, or the hero of moisturisers. We will now learn about the 11th level of the skincare game i.e. Chemical Exfoliation, a gentler way to give you that clean skin.

If you’re on Instagram or follow any beauty influencer you must’ve heard about chemical exfoliation and if you haven’t let me explain it to you. Chemical exfoliation is the use of chemicals to get rid of dead skin cells and impurities. It uses chemicals to exfoliate the skin gently and give it that brightening effect. Different chemicals target different concerns and skin types. But don’t be afraid of using a chemical exfoliator! It is not as scary as it sounds, in fact, it is gentler than physical exfoliators and is advised by many dermatologists. And you’re using a lot of these chemicals long before you even noticed it, it has been incorporated in our face washes, toners, moisturisers and masks for years.

If you’re ready to level up your skincare regimen, keep reading:

AHAs (Alpha-hydroxy Acids):

AHAs derive from natural substances and are water-soluble acids. They peel away the first layer of the skin and work on the topmost layer, it makes the skin smoother to touch. It is advised that beginners should start with a lower concentration of these acids, especially extremely dry skin or sensitive skin. You can’t use higher concentrations of these acids right away and need to build your skin’s tolerance to these acids. AHAs are used for:

  • Uneven skin tone
  • Fine lines
  • Enlarged pores
  • Pigmentation

All AHAs provide exfoliation but there are some differences in each type of AHAs. Irrespective of these differences you should always wear sunscreen to protect your skin from sun damage, sunburns and spots as AHAs make your skin sensitive to the sun. Different types of AHAs are:

Glycolic acid:

It is the most common type of AHA and is widely known throughout the world. It derives from sugarcane and provides a significant amount of exfoliation. It has the smallest molecules in all of AHAs and goes deep into your skin to give you the exfoliation you need. It also has antibacterial properties that can help acne-prone skin keep breakout at bay. It is great for people with normal, combination and oily skin but can irritate extremely dry skin and sensitive skin. If you’re a beginner, you should look for products that are between 5 and 10 per cent, as it is the perfect concentration for Indian skin.

Lactic Acid:
It is another common AHA and is derived from lactose in milk. It’s also known for its significant exfoliation, anti-ageing effects, pore minimisation and treating hyperpigmentation. If you’ve never used lactic acid you should find products that are between 5 to 10 per cent in concentration. It is gentler than glycolic acid and is a better choice for sensitive skin types.

Mandelic Acid:
It is the mildest form of AHAs and has a large molecular size, allowing it to work only on the skin’s surface and is the best choice for sensitive skin type. It is derived from almond extracts and helps in reducing pore size and improving texture. This form of AHA can be used by any skin type as it is a very gentle exfoliator.

BHAs (Betahydroxy Acids)

They are oil-soluble acids and go deeper into the skin to unclog pores, reduce sebum production and remove dead skin cells. BHAs are mainly used for acne and sun damage. It is more suitable for oily, combination and acne-prone skin types. They are generally made for everyday use but a beginner should start by using them once or twice a week and build their tolerance to the product. BHAs don’t make you sensitive to the sun but you should wear sunscreen every day to avoid further sun damage and protect your skin.

Salicylic acid:

This is the most common type of BHAs and is a known treatment for acne-related problems. It also reduces skin inflammation and is a godsend for acne-prone, oily skin type.

PHAs (Polyhydroxy Acid)

This is the newest acid that is introduced to the world of exfoliation. They fall under the AHA family but have a very large molecular size in comparison to other AHAs. They are a non-irritant, provide hydration and are gentler than any other form of exfoliation. This ingredient is not so famous in the Indian market and there are very few products that have PHA in them. It is best used when combined with other exfoliators and can be used by any skin type.

Things to Remember

Chemical exfoliation is great, but there are some things you need to remember if you want the perfect glow.

  • Do not exfoliate more than 2 times a week
  • Wear sunscreen every day and reapply every two hours
  • Start out slow, do not use high concentration products if you are a beginner.
  • Consult a dermatologist, if you face issues
  • Do your own research about the products and then use them

This is your guide to Chemical Exfoliation, I hope you learnt something and it was fun for you!

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