Beneath our surface layer of skin (which can be uneven, slightly rough and speckled with dark spots) is an untouched oasis of baby-softness waiting for its moment to shine. The question is, how do we access it? Simple. By taking the time to exfoliate.
If your mind immediately went to an abrasive, irritation-causing scrub, don’t panic. With a chemical exfoliant, you won’t have to exert any elbow grease in order to budge those dead skin cells.
What is the difference between a chemical and physical exfoliant?
When discussing exfoliators, they typically fall into two categories: physical and chemical. Physical exfoliation involves scrubbing away dead skin cells manually, whereas chemical exfoliants employ the help of AHA and BHAs like glycolic, lactic and salicylic acid, to dissolve cells on the surface. The latter leaves skin with a radiant glow and helps to fade dark spots, minimise pores and clear out stubborn blackheads.
Scroll down for our favourite chemical exfoliators that will leave the skin clear and luminous.
ELEMIS Dynamic Resurfacing Pads
Using a patented tri-enzyme technology, these lactic acid-soaked pads work to reduce the appearance of dark spots, large pores and uneven skin texture. The result? Luminous, smooth and healthy-looking skin.
$84 at MECCA
Read more on ELEMIS Dynamic Resurfacing Pads here…
Dr. LeWinn’s Reversaderm Corrective Skin Peel
Pink pepper and grapefruit may sound delicate, but this ingredients list packs a punch. Using 15 per cent glycolic, lactic and mandelic acid, the Dr. LeWinn’s leave-on gel works overnight to deeply exfoliate below the surface, while the upper layer of skin will experience an unclogging of pores and elimination of imperfections.
“This peel had become my holy grail! I honestly brought this product on a whim because I loved the packaging. I didn’t expect to love it as much as I do. I have had trouble finding a facial peel that actually provides results without irritating or stinging my skin. This peel does just that!” – Cindz14
$27.69 at Chemist Warehouse
Read more Dr. LeWinn’s Reversaderm Corrective Skin Peel reviews here…
John Plunkett’s SuperBright Exfoliating Skin Brightener
For laser-like resurfacing in a bottle, this overnight exfoliator contains professional-strength quantities of AHAs that will dissolve dead skin cells while you sleep.
“The Plunkett’s SuperBright Exfoliating Skin Brightener helps reduce fine lines and surface discolouration, revealing brighter, clearer new skin without pain, redness or peeling.” – Justmoi
$29.95 at Plunkett’s
Read more John Plunkett’s SuperBright Exfoliating Skin Brightener reviews here…
L’Oréal Paris Revitalift Laser Glycolic Acid Pads
Delivering an at-home chemical peel, these double-sided, pre-soaked pads sit as the first step in your skin care routine after cleansing. A 9.6 per cent glycolic complex works to resurface the skin and reduce wrinkles while the addition of soothing agents maintain a gentle balance.
$35 at Chemist Warehouse
Read more L’Oréal Paris Revitalift Laser Glycolic Acid Pads reviews here…
Nu Skin® 180°® AHA Facial Peel and AHA Facial Peel Neutralizer
This two-step exfoliating routine works to sweep away sun damage, fine lines and pronounced pores. Following an exfoliation with lactic acid — aimed at reducing the appearance of wrinkles — a neutralising pad is then applied to soothe, calm and reduce irritation.
$88 at Nu Skin
Read more Nu Skin® 180°® AHA Facial Peel and AHA Facial Peel Neutralizer reviews here…
Carbon Theory Tea Tree Oil & Glycolic Acid Breakout Control Cleansing
If you have acne-prone skin, this is our top pick. Each pad is soaked in organic tea tree oil to eliminate breakout-causing bacteria sitting on the skin, plus glycolic acid to smooth and balance a tired complexion.
$32 at asos
Paula’s Choice Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Liquid Exfoliant
Good luck finding a chemical exfoliant round up without this product on it. As the Paula’s Choice global bestseller and a popular dupe for Biologique Recherche’s cult- favourite Lotion P50, this leave-on formula will fight acne, unclog pores and remain gentle enough to be used twice a day.
“It’s a game changer and helps to keep my skin looking beautiful and fresh. I love it and won’t be without it now. A staple in my routine. The hype is real.” – Ray Jay
$42 at Paula’s Choice
Read more Paula’s Choice Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Liquid Exfoliant reviews here…
Main image credit: @laraworthington
Do you use a chemical exfoliant? If so, which one do you use?