Skinsmith's Complete Guide to Chemical Exfoliation

The Skinsmith | 16th June 2022

Chemical Exfoliation

What is Exfoliation?

Exfoliation is the removal of dead skin cells to reveal a fresh more glowing complexion.
We lose the top layer of dead skin cells, called the “stratum corneum” about every 30-40 days in a normal skin cell cycle. However, there are times when this natural exfoliating process doesn’t work quite as well as it should and needs a little help!

There are four main ways to exfoliate, physical exfoliation, enzymatic exfoliation, mechanical exfoliation and chemical exfoliation.

Physical Exfoliation uses “gritty” particles that physically scrub away the dead skin
Enzymatic Exfoliation uses enzymes that dissolve away the dead skin cells by breaking down the protein in the cells
Mechanical Exfoliation is the use of an external device to exfoliate the skin. It can be as simple as a face cloth or as technical as a professional salon machine such as a micro-dermabrasion.

Chemical Exfoliation uses gentle hydroxy acids to remove dead skin. These skin friendly acids dissolve away the “glue” that holds the skin cells together helping with their removal, there are 2 types: Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHA) and Beta Hydroxy Acids. (BHA)

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How Does Chemical Exfoliation Benefit Your Skin?

Chemical exfoliation for the face is often a blend of acids and enzymes that are applied topically and work on the surface and depending on the exfoliant, within the deeper layers of the skin. On the surface of the skin, they work to remove the dead skin cells whilst in the deeper layers they help to stimulate collagen and elastin production. On the surface of the skin chemical exfoliation reveals a brighter, smoother, more youthful appearance as the new cells are no longer hidden underneath the dead cells! Within the skin chemical exfoliation can help improve firmness, elasticity and support, resulting in a younger complexion with minimised lines, wrinkles and sagging.

When you exfoliate your skin regularly you will also find that your other products work more effectively and you often use less as the dead skin is no longer acting like a barrier to those products!

There are many different kinds of Hydroxy Acids and some work better on certain skin types:

Chemical Exfoliation for Acne:

Acne tends to go hand in hand with an oilier skin type. The best chemical exfoliation for acne is a Beta Hydroxy Acid called Salicylic Acid. This hydroxy acid is oil soluble which means it works best on oily skins as it helps to reduce excess oil, clears congested pores whilst minimising enlarged pores. Try Clear Skin Willow Bark Exfoliaitng Peel designed especially for oily and acne skin types.

Chemical Exfoliation for Sensitive Skin

Look for a gentler, lower percentage in your exfoliant for sensitive skin. Mandelic Acid, from the bitter almond is a very gentle alpha hydroxy acid and can help to reduce redness in the skin as well. Another popular AHA for sensitive skin is Lactic Acid as it also hydrates, soothing the skin. Opt for Calm Skin Chamomile Exfoliating Peel with chamomile to calm and sooth the skin whilst gently exfoliating for a smoother texture.

Chemical Exfoliation for Dry Skin

Chemical exfoliants with fruit acids can help to increase the skins moisture levels, helping to treat dryness. Eminence uses Passion Fruit and Lemon Extracts which aid cell renewal and help skins moisture levels. Again, Lactic Acid is a great option as it is hydrating and gentle on the skin. Firm Skin Acai Exfoliating Peel is our favourite chemical exfoliation for dry skin types.

Chemical Exfoliation for Uneven Skin:

You will often find Lactic Acid in chemical exfoliants for uneven skin as it can help to brighten the complexion, although other ingredients are often added to address the hyperpigmentation or uneven skin tone such as; Natural Hydroquinone Alternative and Licorice Root. Bright Skin Licorice Root Exfoliating Peel is great for uneven skins and also as the chemical exfoliation for aging skin.

Discover The Benefits of Exfoliation By...

... reading our full guide here.

You can also learn more about the key benefits of exfoliation by speaking to a member of our experienced and friendly team today on 01305 300950 or by emailing We look forward to hearing from you.

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