Blog Post for Paula’s Choice Skin Care

Chemically Exfoliate Skin


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Chemical exfoliants have to be the correct PH in order to properly exfoliate away dead cells on skin.


We all have heard that we ideally need to exfoliate skin at least 1-2 times a week to slough away dead skin and uncover smoother rejuvenated skin, but did you know that using a gritty physical exfoliant can be more irritating and damaging to your skin than using a chemical exfoliant? Lately in the beauty industry, chemical exfoliants are taking all the attention away from physically abrasive exfoliants. Here at Paula’s Choice, we created our exfoliants with all skin types in mind, that will diminish away all of our skin concern problems and woes. In this article, we talk about why you should incorporate chemical exfoliants, to reveal the best skin of your life!  


What’s the difference?

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Despite traditional beliefs that skin needs to be exfoliated with gritty ingredients, using abrasive ingredients on skin can cause irritation, and inflamed skin. Chemical exfoliants minimize irritation and exfoliate dead skin away gradually, and over time.


Physical exfoliants have a gritty texture that when massaged onto skin, wash away dead skin cells. However, when chemical exfoliants are applied to skin, skin is gently exfoliated overtime by peeling away the old and dry skin. This process allows new, regenerated smoother skin that is brighter and has less wrinkles than the older skin. Depending on your skin type and concerns, chemical exfoliants penetrate deeper into the layers of skin, and are less irritating than abrasive physical exfoliants.  


How Does it Work?

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The layers of skin where chemical exfoliants penetrate into the top layers of skin, the epidermis and dermis.


There are two types of exfoliants, beta-hydroxy acids (BHA) and alpha-hydroxy acids (AHA), which diminish various skin concerns and problems over time. In the beauty world, BHA is popularly referred as salicylic acid and AHAs such as glycolic acid and lactic acid. Alpha-hydroxy acids (AHA) are small  molecules that penetrate the top layer of skin (epidermis) to dissolve and slough away dead skin cells. Using AHA exfoliants has been shown to increase cell regeneration, generating new skin cells that reveal younger, brighter, and even toned skin. Beta-hydroxy acids (BHA) works this same way by dislodging grime and dirt deep into the pore (AHA doesn’t), preventing blemishes and acne. BHA is an anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial ingredient commonly used in acne products and treatments, and is extremely helpful in clearing and staving away acne.


Chemical Exfoliant Benefits


  • Promotes Skin Cell Regeneration
  • Younger & Brighter Skin
  • Treats Acne
  • Reduces Fine Lines, Age Spots, Scars, & Freckles


Which is Best for My Skin?


Both AHA and BHA are beneficial ingredients to include in your skin care regimen, determining which product is right for you depends on your skin type, and skin concerns. If your skin is oily, BHA will be impactful in dissolving dirt and oil that accumulates in the pore. If your skin is dry, using a gentle and low acidic AHA is beneficial in removing away excess dry and dead skin.  A skin care regimen including both AHA and BHA will benefit all skin types. Since no skin type or concern is one size fits, Paula’s Choice has formulated a variety of chemical exfoliants suitable for every skin type and concern.


Exfoliating Cleansers


Unfortunately, exfoliating cleansers are more hype than any good. In order for chemical exfoliants to work on skin, the formulation needs to have a balanced PH that can allow the exfoliant to work, and needs to left on the skin in order to absorb and penetrate the product to exfoliate the top layers of skin. Since cleansers are washed off of the face, investing in a chemically exfoliating cleanser is a waste of money. Opt for a mild and gentle cleanser that won’t irritate the face. Depending on the sensitivity of your skin, using an abrasive cleanser can be harsh and irritating to use on the face.


Chemical Exfoliants VS. Chemical Peel


We’ve all heard of chemical peels and you may be wondering, are chemical exfoliants the same as chemical peels? Chemical peels use the same ingredients in chemical exfoliants, however at a higher concentration anywhere from 20%- 70% glycolic acid, which removes the entire top layer of skin through blistering and peeling. Consumer and at home chemical exfoliants are between 5%-10%  glycolic acid, which gradually sloughs away the top layer of dead skin cells on skin, gradually and overtime. This means less irritation and down time than a chemical peel.


What Else Should I Know?


If you are alternating between BHA and AHA chemical exfoliants, be mindful of how your skin reacts. Irritation can occur from overuse of chemicals on the skin, and being gentle with skin is key when reducing sensitivity and skin problems. To add on, exfoliating the skin reveals new and sensitive skin that is very susceptible to skin damage from the sun, and is recommended to wear sunscreen while using exfoliants on the skin. Wearing sunscreen will prevent sunburn, and fine lines, wrinkles, and premature aging that is caused by the sun.


Best BHA + AHA Product Recommendations


Oily Skin

Lightweight liquids and gels are the best products suited for oily skin, absorbing and clearing the skin while minimizing pores and oil.


BHA Liquid




AHA Liquid




Dry Skin

Lotion and rich emollients are suitable for exfoliating most dry skin types smoothing away dry dead skin, revealing even and brighter skin.


BHA Lotion

AHA Lotion


Combination Skin


A liquid or gel consistency are best suited for combination skin that is oily and dry periodically. Alternating between BHA and AHA exfoliants will keep fluctuating skin, clean and clear of problems.


BHA Lotion




AHA Lotion







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