How to Use Chemical Exfoliators | Advice from the Derm

July 08, 2021
How to Use Chemical Exfoliators | Advice from the Derm

Regular exfoliation is a non-negotiable for healthy skin! Both AHAs (Alpha Hydroxy Acids) and BHAs (Beta Hydroxy Acids) are chemical exfoliants that help desquamate or shed the top layer of skin that’s overstaying its welcomeIn this post, Dr. Zenovia breaks down the science of these ingredients and provides information on how to incorporate chemical exfoliants into your weekly skincare routine for glowing, balanced skin.  

Exfoliation with Alpha Hydroxy Acids 

AHAs are water-soluble acids that mainly work on the surface levels of the skin. Over time, AHAs can help improve skin texture, pigmentation issues, and boost the production of collagen and hyaluronic acid. Due to their hydrating properties, AHAs are great exfoliants for normal to dry skin types. Common AHAs found in skincare topicals include glycolic acid, lactic acid, malic acid, and mandelic acid.  

Note from Dr. Zenovia: AHAs can increase your skin’s sensitivity to the sun so be sure to apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen daily! 

Exfoliation with Beta Hydroxy Acids 

BHAs are oil-soluble acids which makes them great exfoliants for clearing excess oil and dirt from the pores. One of the most popular BHAs is salicylic acid which breaks up comedones, pore blockages that lead to acne. Compared to AHAs, BHAs can penetrate much deeper into the pores so they are very effective for acne patients.  

How to Incorporate Chemical Exfoliants Into Your Skincare Routine 

After cleansing the skin, apply your chemical exfoliant. Some chemical exfoliants are sold in liquid form and need to be used with a cotton pad. Others come as pre-soaked pads. Dr. Zenovia’s 10% Glycolic Acne Control Peel Pads are formulated with glycolic acid (an AHA) and salicylic acid (a BHA) to accelerate the removal of dead skin cells, unclog the pores, and promote the skin’s cellular renewal process. These pads are also enhanced with Dr. Zenovia’s proprietary REG-ulate360 Complex™ to balance hormonal acne and regulate sebum production for healthy, clear skin. 

Be sure to use gentle circular, upward motions when applying your chemical exfoliant. Wait at least 30 seconds so that the product can fully absorb into the skin. Next, apply your serums and moisturizers. Moisturizing is imperative because many exfoliants can cause skin dryness.  

Dr. Zenovia recommends exfoliating 3-4 times a week. If you are a beginner, start with once a week in the evenings and increase usage over time. Over-exfoliation can damage the skin’s delicate barrier. If you have a sunburn or dry patches skip on exfoliation and focus on keeping the skin hydrated and protected.  


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