Acids or Chemical Exfoliants in Skincare: What Are They?
Chemical exfoliants are acids that react with the skin to remove dead skin cells and excess oil, which can result in dullness, pimples, and clogged pores. They help to dissolve the bonds that hold the skin's cells together, causing the top layer of the skin to shed, resulting in skin regeneration and smoother, clearer skin that glows from within. They're found in high concentrations in dermatologist-recommended chemical peels and in lower concentrations in over-the-counter cleansers, masks, scrubs, moisturisers, and toners.
There are three types of chemical exfoliants: AHAs, BHAs, and PHAs. These acids are all acids, although their penetrating power and skin suppleness differ.
Alpha Hydroxyl group (AHAs)
AHAs are typically obtained from fruits and have the capacity to dissolve in water, allowing them to operate on the skin's surface to improve texture and firmness without creating any irritation. They promote the creation of new collagen by increasing cell turnover. They are mild on the skin, making them a good alternative for people with sensitive skin.
Beta Hydroxyl group (BHAs)
BHAs, on the other hand, are oil-soluble, which means they penetrate deeper into the skin, benefiting not only skin texture but also pore unclogging and oil and sebum control. They're anti-acne favourites because they exfoliate not only the top layer of skin, but also the sebaceous glands deep within the pores, clearing them of any whiteheads or blackheads that may form.
Poly Hydroxy Acids (PHAs)
Because PHAs contain larger molecules than AHAs, they are ideal for extremely sensitive skin because they cannot penetrate deep into the skin and only function on the top layer. They are gentle and moderate, causing no irritation and can be used by persons with eczema or rosacea. They're great for hydrating the skin from the inside out, and they're also great for dry skin!
While the concept of applying acid to your skin may sound intimidating, certain acids can actually benefit your skin. Varying acids have different effects on your skin, so finding the perfect one for you is crucial if you want to achieve bright skin.