Chemical exfoliants have grown from skincare fad to daily essential, and it’s about time you find room in your vanity for products of this nature. If you aren’t dialled in on what they are, here’s the lowdown: chemical exfoliants are a type of active acid-based ingredient that renews your skin in a manner far less harsh than a peel or a physical exfoliant — recall the rock-hard granules in a St. Ives’ Apricot Scrub. There are different strains of it, each designed to remove impurities from your skin in a unique manner. Commonly labelled as AHAs, BHAs, or PHAs on products, chemical exfoliants absolve your complexion from a whole host of issues ranging from acne, problematic pores, visible signs of ageing, and more.
We once delved deep into the category of products, explaining what each acid is exactly, and how they help your skin (read all about that here). Now, with every skincare manufacturer proffering chemical exfoliants in one form or another, it’s time to zone in on the products themselves. Which one should you buy, and which suits your needs best? We suss out the best, qualified by our own experience of the product and user reviews off the Internet. Just remember, your mileage may vary after use.
From cleansing pads, masks, serums and the like, here are the best chemical exfoliants in every format to get you on the road to baby-smooth skin.
As its name suggests, Kate Somerville’s Exfolikate Glow moisturiser truly does give your complexion a tangible glow. Created with the combination of two potent AHAs, glycolic and lactic acid, as well as fruit enzymes, this lightweight cream is beloved for how it turns your skin from dull to radiant overnight.
S$99. Available at Sephora.
Pixi is best known for its Glow Tonic, a glycolic acid toner many swear by for its ability to reduce blemishes and solve hyperpigmentation issues. A convenient replacement to the liquid toner is the handy Glow Tonic To-Go exfoliating toner cotton pads, which comes with 5 per cent glycolic acid and aloe vera, as well as ginseng to hydrate. It’s super handy and far easier to travel with.
S$28. Available at Sephora.
BHAs, also known as beta-hydroxy acids, cleanse your skin from within and are best for reducing clogged pores and blemishes. Paula’s Choice 2 % BHA Liquid contains salicylic acid, a classic chemical exfoliant for sloughing off dead skin cells and minimising enlarged pores, so this is your new go-to should those be your pertinent skin concerns.
S$45. Available at Paula’s Choice.
Sunday Riley’s Good Genes treatment is the poster child for the wonders of AHAs. It’s got stellar reviews on every beauty retail platform and has a legion of users who swear by this lactic acid exfoliator. This product remedies zits, reduces fine lines and rids you of hyperpigmentation issues. Use at night and wake up to brighter skin that gets you looking like you’ve got good genes.
S$148 for 30ml, S$223 for 50ml. Available at Sephora.
While AHAs and BHAs are now a norm in the skincare world, PHAs, or poly hydroxy acids, are still an up-and-coming category. These are the gentler siblings of AHAs, which serve to remove dead skin cells to smoothen your skin. Another plus side to PHAs is the fact that they draw water molecules to your face to moisturise it, resulting in a plumper visage with use. Lixir’s serum combines AHAs and PHAs to detoxify the skin, with reviewers touting its exceptional benefits for acne-prone complexions.
S$40. Available at Sephora.
Masks are perfect for deep fixes, and Tata Harper’s Resurfacing Mask is exactly that with BHAs and fruit enzymes in the mix. This all-natural skincare brand creates their mask with pink clay, white willow bark and pomegranate enzymes to transform problem skin to perfection, with dramatic results visible after just a couple of uses.
S$88. Available at Sephora.