chemical exfoliation 101

For as long as I can humanly remember, having clear skin has always been a major priority of mine. However, as I have grown, so has my experimenting and it is something I have become fully invested in.

When I first got into skin care, my favorite parts of my regimen were exfoliating + toning. I typically used to use brown sugar scrubs to exfoliate or just about anything with a coarse texture. At first my skin was "glowing" or so I thought. In actuality, many of the scrubs I was using to exfoliate my skin were a little too abrasive at times causing my skin to become red and irritated. In hopes of getting rid of my irritated skin, I decided to do some research and refine my skin care regimen. Many sources suggested exfoliating less, which I did for a while, but I still wasn't happy with the results. I felt like I wasn't reaching my full GLOW, so I turned to chemical exfoliants. If you're anything like me, you're probably a little apprehensive because of the name, but I'm here to give you all the need-to-nows about chemical exfoliation so that you can make an informed decision for yourself.

WHAT: First and foremost, what is chemical exfoliation? Chemical exfoliation is the use of chemicals that ultimately aids in the production of new cells, helping skin appear brighter + smoother. AHAs + BHAs are the most common types of acids used in chemical exfoliants.

HOW: So down to the nitty gritty of how a chemical exfoliant actually works... Let's start first by revisiting the most common types of acids: AHAs + BHAs. AHAs stand for alpha hydroxy acids and BHAs stand for beta hydroxy acids.

AHAs are water soluble molecules that work to remove all of your dead skin cells. Some of the most common AHAs are lactic + glycolic acids. AHAs most commonly work to chemically remove any dead skin + build up that may exist on the outermost layer of skin.

BHAs are oil soluble molecules that tend to work on beyond the outermost layer of skin. Salicylic acid is the most commonly used BHA. It's best to use products with BHAs when you're looking for a much deeper, intense chemical exfoliation. In addition to helping with deep exfoliation BHAs are helpful in getting rid of any inflammation you may be combatting.

Pro-tip: If you're ever confused about what acid does what + in what order, remember your ABC's. (A)HAs should come first because they work on your outermost layer of skin + (B)HAs come second because they work on the deeper layers of your skin.

WHO: Contrary to any initial intimidating thoughts you may have about chemical exfoliants, according to licensed dermatologists, they are suitable for just about everyone.

Because AHAs are water soluble they're typically best for people who have dry skin. BHAs are better suitable for people who have oily, acne prone skin since it contains oil-soluble molecules.

If you're a little skeptical about trying out chemical exfoliants try a few masks that include papaya and/or pineapple because both fruits contain enzymes that will naturally exfoliate your skin without too much abrasion.

WHY: So why should you turn your back on your beloved physical exfoliator? Well, it's quite simple actually... chemical exfoliants simply do a better job of removing dead skin. Instead of just moving dead skin cells around on your face, chemical exfoliants work hard to actually break down those dead skin cells to reveal brighter, smoother skin. A lot of times depending on what is used to create the texture in many physical exfoliants, your skin can suffer from tears that are often so small you can barely see them.

WHEN: The best time to apply chemical exfoliants is after you've thoroughly cleaned your face and moisturized. A lot of product goes a long way when it comes to chemical exfoliants. It is also best to apply them at night because upon application, your skin becomes more sensitive to sun. Remember to note that when using chemical exfoliants imperative that you regularly use sunscreen to protect your skin from any unnecessary damage.

WHERE: Apply chemical exfoliants all over your face to ensure a bright + toned appearance.

Happy (chemical) exfoliating!

** DISCLAIMER: While I am a very passionate skin care enthusiast, I am not a dermatologist or licensed esthetician (yet). To ensure that I provide the most accurate information I spoke with a dermatologist concerning the use of commonly used exfoliating acids + toners. **

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