Chemical exfoliation has made the biggest difference to the health tone and texture of my skin. My skin is smoother, my texture as improved and pores have reduced in appearance. I split my chemical exfoliation routine into 3 parts, one focuses on using acids such as BHA and AHA one evening and then in the middle of the week I use my retinoid treatment.
I space out the two because I don’t want to over exfoliate my skin, which can happen and it’s not nice. The third component of my routine is the moisture aspect, because all of the treatments I use are focused on removing dead skin cells, it can lead to my skin being dry. So I have to make sure that I compensate for the dryness that will result from my routine.
I won’t go into two much detail about the moisture part of my routine just because it will make the blog post super long and I don’t want to overwhelm you with text and information.
When I apply my chemical exfoliants I have an order that they go in. Most exfoliants like this have a preferred PH that they operate at, if the PH is too high, then the exfoliant will try to lower your skin’s PH to it’s optimal preference which causes it to focus more on that, instead of the actual reason you applied it. BHA’s have a slightly lower PH than AHA’s, so I apply by BHA before my AHA.
In addition to making sure that I adequately moisturize my skin, I always make sure to wear sunscreen when I’m leaving the house. Chemical exfoliants make your skin more photo-sensitive, so you want to make sure that you have good sun protection when leaving your house. Otherwise you may make your skin worse. Photo-sensitivity with unprotected skin can cause hyper pigmentation. BHA’s and AHA’s have been shown to make skin sensitive for up to a week or 7 days.
Cosrx BHA Blackhead Power Liquid
BHA’s are oil soluble, they are able to penetrate into the pore, which contains sebum, and exfoliate the dead skin cells that build up inside the pore. This is good for dealing with black heads, BHA’s are also good at getting rid of dead skin and allowing new skin to grow, they also work to correct dark spots, photo-damage, and improve the skin's texture. Due to there oil solubility I like to use my BHA as the first step in my chemical exfoliation routine, right after I’ve cleansed my face. I don’t apply a toner or serum before it so there’s no buffer between my face and the BHA.
Now their are two frame of thoughts when it comes to waiting times, some are for them and some say that waiting has no effect on how well the BHA works. I’m a part of the former group, I always wait when I apply a chemical exfoliant. I don’t feel anything or see anything happening to my skin while I wait but in the long term I see the difference in the appearance of my skin and the improvement in my skin tone.
I haven’t experienced any irritation when I use this product but you do want to take care and do a patch test before fully committing, otherwise you may end up with a face that is inflamed and irritated.
Mizon 8% AHA Peeling Serum
I’ve told the story before about the first time I used this serum, when I first started using this serum I found it to be ineffective and a waste of my money. I was already planning on not repurchasing it when I came across the reddit group Asian Beauty. This where the concept of wait times was first introduced to me, after I started implementing a 30 minute wait time the next time I use this product I immediately saw results. The size of my pores were drastically reduced. Now I attribute this change to the AHA loosening up layers of dead skin cells that were clinging to the surface of my skin and not to the fact that my pores shrunk or changed their shape, this is something I discuss a little more in my blog post about Skin Care Myths.
AHA’s unlike BHA’s are water soluble so they don’t penetrate as deep into the skin as a BHA does. AHA’s are said to improve fine lines and reduce the look of wrinkles, help with blemishes as well as hydrate. AHA’s also help with hyper-pigmentation and reducing the appearance of your pores.
The Ordinary Azelaic Acid Suspension 10%
This is the last step that I do in my chemical exfoliation routine. This product looks and feels like a regular face cream, not typical of what you usually expect from a chemical exfoliant. I layer it on top of the other products that I’ve previously applied to my skin and do my standard 30 minute wait time.
One of the reasons I started using this product is that I heard it worked great for those with deeper skin tones. Because it works at reducing the keratin the skin produces it fights against the hyper-pigmentation that usually occurs when those of deeper skin tone scar. It does work great with those of other skin tones whether they be fair or dark.
Azelaic acid is meant to brighten the skin tone while visibly improving the evenness of skin texture and reducing the look of blemishes. It also helps with cell renewal.
The Ordinary Granactive Retinoid 2% Emulsion formerly Advanced Retionoid 2%
I’ve had a love hate relationship with this product. When I first started using it, I was in love but after a time I saw that my skin was reacting to it and so I stopped using it. As time when by though I realized that it was due to my own fault why I had experienced the negative reaction to my skin. I forgot one of the main things one must do when using any type of chemical exfoliant, moisturize, excessively so.
When I started moisturizing my skin properly after using this product then I saw improvement without any irritation. The emulsion is a thin off white liquid that is dispensed with a dropper. I like to apply this on freshly cleansed skin, using a few drops I massage it into my skin and then wait for 30 minutes before moving on with the rest of my skin care routine.
The benefits of adding a retinoid to your skin care routine is that retinoids the buildup of dead cells in the skin's pores and follicles, they also promote the growth of healthy cells and promote faster skin cell turnover. If the term cell turnover is weird or unfamiliar to you it simply means that our skin produces new skin cells which travel from the lowest layer of the epidermis to the top layer and then shed off the skin. This is what prevents the buildup of dead cells on the skins surface.
The Moisture Aspect
Although using chemical exfoliants as produced favourable results in my skin, it also has the potential to leave my skin dry and irritated if I don’t take care to moisturize enough. Making sure that I adequately moisturize my skin has been one of the things that I struggle with most often in my skin care routine, it’s just so easy to skip all the layers of toner, serum and cream.
As redundant as they may seem, all those layers are actually quite important. I find that using the Guerrison 9 Complex products works well for my skin, they provide excellent moisture and even though they apply light and easy to the skin they seem to lock in the moisture of the previous layer. I currently use, the toner, essence, lotion and face cream. I’ll talk about these more in another post.
Do you use chemical exfoliants in your skin care routine? If so which ones do you find work the best for you skin?
Are you unfamiliar with the whole chemical exfoliation thing, no worries here are a few posts where I talk a bit more about them here , as well as offer some resources that provide more in-depth information.