Today we'll go through some commonly asked questions on chemical exfoliation.
Should I be using AHA or BHA?
Depends on your concerns. AHAs are better at eliminating dullness/hyperpigmentation; BHA is better at reducing congestion and blemishes. To target all of above, use a blend of both!
Which is the best type of AHA?
The best AHA is not the strongest one, but the one that works best for you. Glycolic acid, the smallest AHA, is the most penetrative/potent. Lactic acid, being bigger, is milder.
But formulation is just as important as the type of acid. Not all glycolic acid products are strong; not all lactic acid products are gentle.
Does a higher acid % mean a stronger product?
Product pH also strongly affects its potency. If a product is not within pH 3-4, it will not exfoliate. A 5% lactic acid at pH 3 is stronger than a 10% lactic acid product of pH 6. Due to the logarithmic nature of the pH scale, something at pH 3 is 10 times more acidic than another at pH 4.
I'm new to AHA/BHA. What acid % should I start with?
Start with 5% AHA or 0.5% BHA once every 2 nights. Gradually increase frequency if necessary. At the right frequency, your skin will look smooth, bright and hydrated. If you experience lasting discomfort, flakiness/peeling and redness, you have over-exfoliated. Go lower and slower!
Do acids 'thin' the skin?
No, because new skin cells are continually being formed at the base of our epidermis. Chemical exfoliants only remove the outermost epidermis layer - stratum corneum. With regular usage, glycolic acid has been shown to thicken both dermis and epidermis layers, boosting skin's structural resilience.
Should I wait to apply a moisturiser after using a chemical exfoliant?
No. It takes a lot (of product or water) to change the pH of the chemical exfoliant significantly. So there is no need to wait in between product application - the pH of your chemical exfoliant will remain low enough to be an effective exfoliant even after another product is used on top of it.