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Chemical Exfoliants | TDXO Spring Skincare Guide

Over the last few years, chemical exfoliants have grown in popularity and become a staple in skincare routines (myself included). It's the formula and results that you found when scheduling an appointment with a medical clinic - but now at your fingertips, LITERALLY, in skincare products.

Step into my laboratory, people.

What's a chemical exfoliant? Chemical exfoliants are acids that react with the skin, removing built-up layers of dead cells and excess oil that can cause dull skin and blemishes. You probably have already seen these names on product labels and just didn't know what they were!

This takes the place of those physical exfoliants (with the little beads in them) that DO remove dead skin - but ultimately damage it as well by leaving little scratches all over. That's no bueno. Now we have a way to exfoliate without damaging or irritating the skin!

First, let's clarify the two TYPES of acids used in chemical exfoliants:

  • The AHA (Alpha-Hydroxy Acids) Family: including glycolic, lactic, mandelic, malic and tartaric. These are the ones you go to if you're trouble shooting texture, pigmentation, pores or dull complexion.

  • BHA (Beta-Hydroxy Acids): mainly consist of salicylic acid — are oil-soluble and can dive deeper into your pores. If blackheads, spots and general oiliness are your concern, this is the move for you!

Now, here's the TYPES of chemical exfoliants that you've seen floating around:

  • Glycolic acid - used to improve the skin’s appearance and texture through exfoliation while reducing fine lines, hyperpigmentation, dark spots and uneven skin tone

  • Lactic acid - helps exfoliate as well as speed up cell regrowth

  • Salicylic acid - plows through pore blockages. It’s also an anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory acid which helps to calm and clarify the skin

Word to the wise: if you are new to acids, though, it’s wise to start with a chemical exfoliant twice a week and work your way up to daily.

Here's where you can start your journey with chemical exfoliants!

The Ordinary AHA 30% + BHA 2% Peeling Solution

The solution helps fight visible blemishes and improve the look of skin texture and radiance. It's a 10-minute, exfoliating facial combining AHA and BHA to tackle blemishes. It's also great for all skin types.

Why I love it: It smooths the look of skin texture for a more radiant look. It's like a professional-grade facial in your bathroom!

Buy it here

Dermalogica Retinol Acne Clearing Oil

This is a high-performance oil combining retinol and salicylic acid to target breakouts and reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles overnight.

Why I love it: this one has super skin-friendly oils. I love retinols to begin with - and this one has a unique booster and application that minimizes irritation.

Buy it here

Paula's Choice CLINICAL 1% Retinol Treatment

This treatment is VERY high-strength. So it's not a starter option for you! But this is another retinol and peptide formula that addresses wrinkles, large pores, and discoloration.

Why I love it: once again, another retinol! The ingredients are a big win for me too: oat, willow bark, and licorice extracts. It applies very lightweight and sheer which is always a plus!

Buy it here

Peter Thomas Roth Peptide 21® Amino Acid Exfoliating Peel Pads

These peel pads are GENIUS. One to three times a week, you apply them to your face, neck, chest, and even the top of yours hands for a few minutes. Rinse. And then enjoy the tingling as those peptides treat your fine lines and wrinkles!

Why I love them: not only are they easy to use, I love the green tea and chamomile they're packed with that adds to the calming and smoothing nature

Buy them here

AMOREPACIFIC Treatment Enzyme Exfoliating Powder Cleanser

If we're talking about science experiments, this cleanser is perfect. It's powder to foam exfoliating PLANT-DERVIED cleanser that removes dead skin cells, impurities, and makeup while moisturizing! So effing cool.

Why I love it: First, it's plant-based. Which you know is a big win for me. You can use it at morning or night. And also, the bottle always gives you the proper amount to use, which is important when it comes to exfoliants.

Buy it here

Paula's Choice Skin Perfecting 25% AHA + 2% BHA Exfoliant Peel

And rounding up the favorites is this beauty here. It's a rinse-off, AHA and BHA combination peel that DRAMATICALLY, refines texture, smooths the look of wrinkles, and unclogs pores in just 10 minutes. Since this is professional-grade, it's important to use this SOLO and only use it one time a week

Why I love it: I'm not kidding when I say it makes a dramatic difference after each use. Which is a huge bonus.

Buy it here


*Some of the links included in this blog post are affiliate links - so if you choose to purchase these products, just know that you're pouring resources right back into the TDXO Community and experiences for everyone in it!*

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