There are a variety of acids that each serve a different role in terms of ‘chemical exfoliation’. Chemical exfoliants are very effective and are a brilliant alternative to using your St Ives Apricot scrub! Be vital in ensuring you're using an acid that's right for your skin type.
AHA vs. BHA vs. PHA chart above and the purpose of each acid!
PHAs, also known as polyhydroxy acids, are the newest acid to take over ingredients lists and news feeds all over the beauty world. They are much larger in molecular size compared to the more common AHAs like glycolic and lactic acids. Essentially, their benefits are the same as AHAs, polyhydroxy acids may be a good alternative for those with sensitive skin, including those with rosacea and eczema, who cannot tolerate AHAs and BHAs.
AHAs alpha-hydroxy acids, and that covers your glycolic, citric, and lactic acids all have their own strengths, but they mainly work by nibbling away at skin cells to reveal more glowy skin hiding underneath. AHAs can be pretty intense, so depending on the concentration of your product, you probably want to limit your usage to once or twice a week. As always, start off slow and see how you go!
Then you have your BHAs, or beta-hydroxy acids, which is where salicylic acid can be found. This type of acid is brilliant at flushing out blocked pores, which is why you always hear it recommended for things like acne or keratosis pilaris —that rough skin you have that never quite seems to go away. "Physical exfoliators can be a bit scratchy," explains Joanna Vargas, celebrity facialist and founder of Joanna Vargas Salon and Skincare Collection. "Chemical ones are more controllable in terms of depth of the peel—and they technically are more uniform."
As for as how often you should use a chemical exfoliant, it depends on your skin type! Wearing SPF daily is non-negotiable. Removing part of the dead skin layer will slightly increase sun sensitivity!