face peels
Photo: Harper’s BAZAAR

Traditionally, when we think about exfoliation, face scrubs automatically spring into our minds. The truth is, many face scrubs were either made of plastic microbeads (very bad for the environment as they get washed into the oceans and end up causing pollution, which is why the use of microbeads have become largely restricted) or roughly grounded granules (that can cause micro tears in fragile skin), which explains why they have racked up a bit of a bad rep amongst the environmentally-friendly and those with sensitive-prone skin. As a result, more people are looking at chemical exfoliators to get the job done.

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And while chemical exfoliators have been in existence for decades, they used to be restricted to doctor’s office, where a high concentration of acids is applied to give skin an overhaul, revealing fresh and youthful-looking skin. However, in recent years, they’ve found their way into at-home products (at mild and safe concentrations of course) so women and men are able to target various skin conditions without worrying about aggravating their skin. And thanks to the constant improvement of technology and new formulations, chemical exfoliators, aka face peels (as many of them are known as) now feature sophisticated ingredients that are able to combat pigmentation, wrinkles, blemishes and roughness without ever being overly harsh.

The main ingredient found in face peels are exfoliating acids: AHAs and BHAs. AHAs, or alpha hydroxy acids, are water soluble compounds that dissolve the “glue” that holds dead skin cells on the surface of our skin, sweeping them away to reveal clearer, softer skin beneath. As a result, skin looks brighter, feels smoother and products also penetrate better.They can increase skin’s photo-sensitivity so it’s usually advised to be conscientious with sunscreens if you’re using products that contain AHAs. Some AHAs that are commonly found in skincare include: glycolic acid, lactic acid and mandelic acid.

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BHAS, or beta hydroxy acids, are oil soluble compounds so they are able to penetrate the sebum plugs that clog pores. Since they also have anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties, they are usually found in products that are best suited for oily and blemish-prone skin. The most common BHA found in skincare products is salicylic acid. However, more often than not, skincare products contain both AHAs and BHAs for multiple benefits. Here, 10 face peels to try for all your skin concerns:

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