Until a decade ago, physical scrubs were the only exfoliators that we knew. Since then we have come a long way in using chemical exfoliators at home. Earlier it was only known to be used in dermatologists’ clinics in the form of a peel. But now in the internet world, with proper knowledge, we can use them by ourselves. Safer and weaker formulations are available over the counter however stronger formulations are best used under consultation. Today’s post will help you find out the Best Chemical Exfoliator For Face based on your skin type and skin concern. Let’s quickly know the types of chemical exfoliators and their functions.
Table of Contents
Types of Chemical Exfoliators
|FORMS||1. Glycolic Acid (Derived from Sugarcane)|
2. Lactic Acid (Derived from Milk)
3. Mandelic Acid (Derived from Bitter Almonds)
4. Malic Acid (Derived from Apples)
5. Tartaric Acid (Derived from Grapes)
6. Citric Acid (Derived from Lemons, Oranges)
|1. Salicylic Acid (Derived from Willow Bark Extract)|
2. Betaine Salicylate (Derived from Sugar Beet)
1. Lactobionic Acid (Derived from Milk)
2. Gluconolactone (Derived from corn)
|TYPE||Water-soluble acids with small molecular sizes are the strongest among the three.||Oil-soluble with slightly larger molecules effectively work on unclogging pores.||Water-soluble with a larger molecular size hence are the least irritating acids.|
|FUNCTION||Exfoliation (upper layer of the skin)+ Moisturization + Brightening.||Exfoliation (deep within the pores) + Anti-Inflammatory.||Exfoliation (on the surface of the skin) + Hydration + Anti-Aging.|
|BENEFITS||Hyperpigmentation, Surface Wrinkles, Fine Lines, and Uneven Skin Tone.||Clogged pores, blackheads, and pimples.||Locks moisture to reduce fine lines & wrinkles.|
|SUITABLE||All Skin Types, including Dry Skin.||Oily & Acne Prone Skin.||All Skin Types, including sensitive skin.|
|SIDE EFFECTS||Causes sun sensitivity||Can cause purging on some.||Nothing major.|
15 Best Chemical Exfoliator For Face & Body
Salicylic Acid Exfoliator For Oily Skin
1. Paula’s Choice 2% BHA Liquid Exfoliant
Hands down, this is the Best Chemical Exfoliator For Acne Prone Skin. Made from clinically proven ingredients, Paula’s Choice 2% BHA Liquid is said to dramatically improve one’s skin texture. It’s a non-abrasive leave-on product with 2% Salicylic Acid to unclog pores, combat blackheads, fight acne, and even out skin tone. It also contains Green Tea Extract which is an antioxidant and is really good for the skin.
|1. One of the Best Salicylic Acid-Based Chemical Exfoliator.||1. Not ideal for sensitive skin.|
|2. Hydrates, brighten, and smoothen fine lines.|
|3. Clears skin’s surface debris to reveal fresh skin from within.|
|4. Unclogs pores and prevents new pimples.|
|5. Cruelty-Free and Leaping Bunny Certified.|
|6. Paraben and Fragrance-Free.|
2. Cosrx BHA Blackhead Power Liquid
Cosrx BHA Blackhead Power Liquid is a much-raved Korean Chemical Exfoliator among the Asian beauty community. It contains 4% Betaine Salicylate, a gentler form of Salicylic Acid which is as effective as 2% Salicylic Acid along with 64% Willow Bark Extract to provide gentle exfoliation. It keeps the pores clean, reduces blackheads, and reveals smoother, brighter skin. This product is much gentler than Paula’s BHA and is suitable for beginners & sensitive skin types.
|1. Contains minimal effective ingredients.||1. Takes time to work on stubborn blackheads.|
|2. No parabens, alcohol, phthalates, or fragrance.|
|3. Non-drying, gentle formulation suits all skin types including dry skin.|
|4. Controls excess sebum and reduces blackheads.|
|5. You need a few drops each time, so one bottle lasts long.|
3. Stridex Daily Care Acne Pads Maximum Strength
Stridex Pads, as you can guess, are exfoliating wet pads that are soaked in 2% Salicylic Acid. Its keratolytic action unclogs pores and effectively dissolves deep down oil and skin impurities. Its proven formula clears up existing pimples as well future breakouts. These pads are great to treat body acne and ingrown hairs.
|1. The potent formula is highly effective for acne and blackhead control.||1. The fragrance is overpowering.|
|2. Known to work for closed comedones and cystic acne.||2. Not for sensitive skin.|
|3. Alcohol-Free Formula.|
|4. Great for back acne and body exfoliation.|
Recommended by Dermatologists, Sebogel contains 2% salicylic acid and 6% Niacinamide. The combination of both makes this an excellent chemical exfoliator for oily acne-prone skin. It’s highly efficient in regulating sebum production thereby reducing acne and excess oil. It also adds a visible glow to the skin. If you are looking for a Niacinamide Gel with Salicylic Acid, this is highly recommended.
|1. Glycerin and Aloe Vera Based Gel Formula.||1. It’s not a moisturizer per se, so follow it up with a good moisturizer or squalane oil.|
|2. Fights off acne, pimples, inflammations, and other infections.|
|3. Helps to prevent blackheads.|
|4. Softens and smoothens skin.|
|5. Works as a salicylic acid spot treatment as well.|
|6. Niacinamide brightens and strengthens the skin barrier.|
Glycolic Acid Exfoliator For Dry Skin
5. Pixi Glow Tonic
This award-winning, invigorating glow tonic is infused with 5% Glycolic Acid to exfoliate and purify your dull skin. The Glow Tonic is further infused with Aloe Vera, Red Ginseng, Witch Hazel, and Horse Chestnut Seed, all of which are beneficial for the skin. This is one of the highly raved glycolic acid toners known to be highly effective for acne and acne marks. It also smoothens skin texture and brightens your complexion. This is a great chemical exfoliator for the body to get rid of ingrown and discolorations.
|1. Efficiently exfoliates the skin.||1. Contains fragrance.|
|2. Accelerates cell renewal.|
|3. Gives a brighter and healthier glow.|
|4. Fades fresh acne marks significantly.|
|5. Aloe vera soothes and hydrates the skin.|
|6. Paraben Free & Alcohol-Free Toner.|
|7. Suitable for all skin types, except sensitive skin.|
6. Cosrx AHA 7 Whitehead Power Liquid
Cosrx AHA 7 Whitehead Power Liquid is a Korean Chemical Exfoliator that makes your skin silky smooth. It contains 7% Glycolic Acid and Apple Water to clear dead skin cells that are deep within the skin. It also contains 2% Niacinamide which strengthens the barrier function. Using it twice or thrice a week is more than enough to brighten up your dull skin and smoothen your rough skin.
|1. No frills minimal ingredients.||1. It doesn’t smell that good.|
|2. Contains skin brightening Niacinamide and skin-soothing Panthenol.|
|3. Helps a lot in reducing dullness & pigmentation.|
|4. Evens out the skin tone.|
|5. Clears up whiteheads.|
|6. Can be used as a spot treatment.|
7. Glyco 6 Glycolic Acid Cream
Glyco 6 Cream is affordable, Dermatologists Recommended Chemical Exfoliator. As you can tell, it contains 6 % Glycolic Acid in a cream base that leaves the skin a bit moisturized. So it’s great for those with dry skin. It’s a result-oriented product that works for acne marks, dark spots, and discolorations.
|1. Budget Friendly.||1. Contains fragrance, which is mild and pleasant.|
|2. Dermatologists Recommended.|
|3. Cream-based formulation is not dry on the skin.|
|4. Clears pores and makes skin even-toned.|
|5. Works on closed comedones and hyperpigmentation.|
|6. Helps with fine lines and wrinkles as well.|
8. AHA Glow Face Wash
If you are an absolute beginner with chemical exfoliation, this is the one I’d recommend. Made with 1% Glycolic Acid, this face wash effectively cleanses the skin removing impurities and dead skin cells. It helps fight active acne, lightens acne marks, and removes suntan. This is one of the best chemical exfoliators for beginners with oily and acne-prone skin.
|1. Good for beginners.||1. Can dry out the skin, so follow up with a moisturizer.|
|2. Along with Glycolic Acid, it contains 5% Aloe Vera and Vitamin E.|
|3. Refreshes the skin instantly.|
|4. Removes tan and brightens up the skin.|
|5. Fights acne-causing bacteria.|
|6. Excellent for oily acne-prone skin types.|
Mandelic Acid Exfoliator For Beginners
9. Kaya Purifying Toner
The Kaya Purifying Toner contains one of the mildest AHA in the lowest concentration making it one of the Best Chemical Exfoliator For Beginners. It also contains Niacinamide and Rose & Cucumber Extract to soothe the skin. The Kaya Toner not only reduces acne but also instantly tones, refreshes, and stabilizes the pH of the skin. It’s suitable for everyday use.
|1. Contains 1% Mandelic Acid which is gentle on the skin.||1. Contains fragrances, that may not suit sensitive skin.|
|2. Lightweight, non-sticky toner.|
|3. Controls excess oil production.|
|4. Heals and Prevents acne breakouts.|
|5. Alcohol-Free Formula|
10. By Wishtrend Mandelic Acid 5% Skin Prep Water
This is one of my favorite Mandelic Acid-based Korean Chemical Exfoliator. It’s very gentle on the skin and suitable for all skin types. Made with 5% Mandelic Acid, it improves uneven texture, dullness, and pigmentation of the skin. It has antibacterial properties which are great for inflammatory acne.
|1. Beginner-friendly.||1. Not easily available.|
|2. Provides gentle exfoliation.||2. It looks pricey, but it’s a huge 120 ml bottle that lasts long.|
|3. Doesn’t tingle or irritate the skin.|
|4. Panthenol has humectant properties to retain the moisture level of the skin.|
|5. Centella Asiatica protects and soothes the skin.|
|6. Works on acne and blemishes.|
Suganda has a 5% Mandelic Acid along with Panthenol and Centella Asiatica which is beginner-friendly as well.
Lactic Acid Exfoliator For Beginners
11. Deconstruct Beginners Exfoliating Serum
Deconstruct Beginners Exfoliating Serum is a well-formulated chemical exfoliator that contains 5% Lactic Acid to gently exfoliate without drying, 1% Hyaluronic Acid to plump the skin, and 1.5% Probiotics to fight microbes and strengthen the skin barrier. This effective combination of ingredients gives a brighter and healthy glow to the skin.
|1. Unique combination of ingredients.||1. None as such.|
|2. Has a pH of 3-4, ideal to provide noticeable exfoliation.|
|3. Improves skin texture and tone.|
|4. Suitable for all skin types, including dry and sensitive skin.|
|5. Free of fragrance, silicones, parabens, pthalates & sulphates.|
|6. Cruelty-Free and Vegan.|
12. Isntree Clear Skin 8% AHA Essence
Isntree Clear Skin Essence is yet another potent Korean Chemical Exfoliator with 4% Glycolic Acid and 4% Lactic Acid. It turns your dull lifeless skin into lustrous, softer, smoother skin. The essence further contains Centella Asiatica and Hyaluronic Acid to soothe and hydrate the skin. It’s the least irritating despite its powerful formulation.
|1. Mild Keratin Exfoliant.||1. Availability might be an issue.|
|2. Contains soothing ingredients.|
|3. Improves skin tone and texture.|
|4. Clears pores and brightens the complexion.|
|5. Suitable for all skin types, especially Normal to Dry.|
|6. Free of Alcohol, Parabens, Fragrance & Essential Oils.|
PHA based Chemical Exfoliator For Sensitive Skin
13. Minimalist PHA 3% + Biotic Toner
Minimalist PHA 3% + Biotic Toner is a pH balancing, pore tightening, gently exfoliating, and skin hydrating toner. It rebalances the skin microbiome with the addition of Prebiotics and Probiotics. It also contains Hyaluronic Acid, Polyglutamic Acid to immensely hydrate the skin.
|1. Non-comedogenic.||1. Can be a bit oily for oily skin types.|
|2. Has a pH of 4-4.5, hence it’s the least irritating.|
|3. Budget-friendly and beginner-friendly.|
|4. Contains Niacinamide & Salicylic Acid as well.|
|5. Provides gentle exfoliation, while infusing hydration & tightening the pores.|
|6. Alcohol-Free and Fragrance-Free.|
|7. Reasonably priced.|
Salicylic Acid & Glycolic Acid Exfoliator
14. Rejuglow Face Wash
Rejuglow is one of the Best Salicyclic Acid Face Wash for Oily, Acne-Prone Skin. It’s formulated with a blend of 2% Glycolic Acid and 1% Salicylic Acid that’s effective in controlling acne breakouts. The face wash reduces sebaceous filaments and whiteheads significantly. It’s a skin rejuvenating glow treatment product as it claims. It lightens acne marks, removes tan, rejuvenates the skin, and makes it glow from within.
|1. Affordable, pH-balanced formula.||1. Contains added synthetic fragrance, though it’s mild.|
|2. Gently exfoliates and brightens skin.|
|3. Makes skin baby soft and refreshed.|
|4. Non-drying, unlike most acid-based cleansers.|
|5. Removes tan effectively.|
|6. Suitable for all skin types and also beginners.|
15. The Ordinary Peeling Solution
The Ordinary Peeling Solution is a highly concentrated peeling solution with 30% AHA and 2% BHA. It’s a wash-off mask that gives results in less than 10 minutes. It is highly effective in improving the skin’s texture and tone. The solution is to be used once or twice a month max, and not more.
|1. Instantly smoothes and softens skin.||1. Strictly not for beginners. A patch test is recommended.|
|2. Clears out the congestion of pores.|
|3. Improves skin tone and texture.|
|4. Great for blemish-prone skin.|
|5. Alcohol-Free, Silicone-Free, and Oil-Free.|
These are some of the Best Chemical Exfoliator in the market. Have you tried any of these?
Let us know in the comments section below.