What Is Chemical Exfoliation & Why You’re Missing Out
During my teen years, I was a scrubber. Every since my first tube of St. Ives Apricot Scrub, I would grind and press and and rub my face as hard as I could. For some reason, I thought face scrubs were the key to smooth, glowing, flawless skin.
What I did not know was that I was just aggravating my current pimples, encouraging the formation of clogged pores and creating micro-tears in my skin, a welcome opening for more acne-causing bacteria. It was like laying down a doormat that said, “All painful, hard-to-get-rid-of pimples welcome!”.
About 5 or so years ago, I started experimenting with chemical exfoliation. If it had acid in the name, I was all about it. But with all good things, I overdid it and ended up with burn spots, redness and peeling patches.
So as you’re reading this, you’re probably thinking “Geez girl, what did your face ever do to you?!” But what I’m really trying to say is, that in moderation and with the right ingredients, chemical exfoliation is a must-have in every skin routine.
While our skin exfoliates on it’s own everyday, factors such as regular unprotected sun exposure and aging causes our natural exfoliation process to slow down or even stop altogether. The results are dull, dry, flaky skin, clogged pores, uneven skin tone, wrinkles, and loss of firmness. When done correctly, chemical exfoliation removes dead skin cells, brightens dark marks, evens tone, smoothes texture and encourages/speeds up cell turnover.
There are two different types acids that chemical exfoliators fall into – Alpha Hydroxy Acid (AHA) or Beta Hydroxy Acid (BHA). AHA’s work on the skin’s surface, are best for normal to dry skin, and are known for reducing visible signs of sun damage. Products containing Glycolic and Lactic Acid fall into this category. BHA’s (beta hydroxy and salicylic acid) work on the surface and inside the pore, which is great for people with oily skin, clogged pores, and blemishes. Pick up skin-care containing Salicylic Acid if you’re looking for maintain and prevent bumps.
Start with a lower percentage of whatever type of chemical exfoliation you are trying out and DO NOT go over the recommended application time if it’s in a peel or mask form. In this case, longer is not better. You may experience some tingling which is normal but if something ever becomes painful, discontinue use immediately.
Also, SPF is CRUCIAL when it comes to using any sort of acid. Your skin will be extra sensitive and the sun can cause serious discoloration and irritation. I’m a big fan of floppy hats and SPF of 30 or higher if you’re spending more than a few hours outside.
If you’re just starting out:
If you’ve been tried chemical exfoliation before:
Have you ever tried chemical exfoliation? Did you love it or hate it? Do tell.