Back in the day, we used to use physical exfoliants(scrub) to remove dead skin cells. But they can be harsh sometimes, Especially the ones which have walnut and apricot particles in them. It can cause micro-tears in our skin. So nowadays people are hyping about chemical exfoliants.

Chemical exfoliants are everywhere on the internet. Urmi Goraiya, lifestyle creator at Trell, told HerZindagi that "basically, they are acids that get rid of dead skin cells, clean out your pores, give smooth and even-toned skin and reduce the appearance of aging signs. But if you do not use them correctly, your skin can get worse instead of getting better. There are three main types of chemical exfoliants. All are acids, but some are gentler than others."

Here is a brief understanding of chemical peels and the do's and don'ts to their usage by her.

AHAs (Alpha Hydroxy Acids)

As they are water-soluble, they work on the surface of your skin and make your skin smooth. AHA includes glycolic acid, lactic acid, and malic acid. Glycolic acid and lactic acid are mostly used in AHAs. They are used in concentration ranges from 5 to 10 for the high effectiveness.

BHAs (Beta Hydroxy Acids)


BHAs are oil soluble. They penetrate your pores and work on the surface of our skin as well. These acids benefit skin texture and also help in unclogging pores and removing acne-causing sebum. Examples of BHAs are salicylic acid and tropic acid.

PHAs (Poly Hydroxy Acids)

PHAs work in a similar way to AHAs. The difference is that the PHA molecules are larger, so they cannot penetrate as deeply. That is why they are less irritating than AHAs. PHAs like gluconolactone and lactobionic acid has additional hydrating and antioxidant benefits.

Know Which Type To Use?

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AHAs are used to improve mild areas of discolouration and our skin tone. BHAs, on the other hand, is best for acne-prone or oily skin due to their pore-unclogging properties. If you have highly sensitive skin, a less intrusive PHA may be the route to go down.

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Let us have a look at Do's & Don'ts of chemical exfoliation.

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  • They make your skin photosensitive so make sure to use them at night.
  • Always wear sunscreen after using chemical exfoliants.
  • Do a patch test before trying it out.
  • Use it only once/twice a week.
  • Start with lower concentration if you are a beginner. Do not go for 10% and 25% directly, it can be very harsh and irritating on your skin. Start with 2% or 5%. Once your skin got used to it, you can switch to a higher concentration.

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  • As these are actives, do not mix them with other actives like Vitamin C, Retinols, etc.
  • Do not use them on wet skin, otherwise it will tingle you a lot.
  • Do not apply it on broken/injured skin.
  • Do not use all the products containing chemical exfoliants at the same time. If you are using toner containing AHA/BHA then do not use a serum with the same in it.

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