Chemical Exfoliation 101: The Benefits and Dangers of Exfoliating

By JBurroughs

3 minute read

The most common means of removing dead skin cells used to be through small grains (found in face scrubs), a brush, or a scalpel under the trained hands of a specialist. However, recently, more skincare users are migrating to chemical exfoliators. In fact, the global market for chemical peels alone is booming, and forecasted to grow from $737 million in 2019 to $1.5 billion by 2025. This rise is attributed to not just an increased collective interest in beauty but a series of more effective and gentler exfoliation formulas concocted by skin researchers globally.

Of course, like any other product you try on your skin, you need to be aware of its benefits and dangers before you adopt it into your routine. This guide will help you with your chemical exfoliation research.

Benefits of Chemical Exfoliation

Treats and prevents acne

Acne usually happens when the hair follicles get clogged up with skin cells, bacteria, and dirt. Topical treatments typically help in healing acne, though, nowadays, chemical exfoliation can also do the trick! Chemical exfoliators with alpha hydroxy acids (AHA), for example, decrease oil production and eliminate bacteria. Additionally, AHA unclogs your pores, preventing breakouts, accelerating the healing of acne scars, and reducing inflammation in the process.

Reduces signs of aging

As mentioned before, chemical exfoliation removes layers of the skin to stimulate new skin cell growth. Aside from improving the texture of your skin, however, a chemical peel also triggers the production of elastin and collagen. Both are necessary for your skin to be tighter, smoother, plumper, and stronger. Consequently, you will notice a reduced appearance of wrinkles, fine lines, age spots, and dry patches.

Brightens skin

Aside from reducing acne scars and age spots, chemical exfoliation also results in brighter and healthier skin. Products with AHAs and vitamin C help in decreasing hyperpigmentation, which leads to brighter skin. Moreover, with the repetitive motion of exfoliation, you are stimulating lymphatic drainage for internal cleansing and skin detoxification. You are also increasing blood flow to boost cellular health and nourish the skin’s surface. Exfoliation also increases cell turnover, constantly creating fresh, healthy cells.

Dangers of Chemical Exfoliation

Might damage the skin

While chemical exfoliator ingredients, such as AHAs, retinoic acid, and vitamin C can be highly beneficial, they can also be damaging to your skin too if applied with the incorrect dosage.

That is why, as much as possible, avoid buying these products without researching the business that offers them. Seek out companies, like Cetaphil and Neutrogena, who advertise how they work with professionals with a background in skin health. Those who have a background in modern healthcare management are not only taught the foundations of clinical strategies, but also how to advise companies and their clients on health-related concerns. These professionals can create guides for the application of various chemical exfoliators, helping you evade skin damage in the process.

Might trigger complications

Chemical exfoliators like peels and scrubs might lead to skin complications, although the frequency and severity of such are quite low. You may notice redness and swelling post-exfoliation, for instance, though these normally subside within a few hours. Sometimes, the exfoliated skin may be different in color too, either becoming darker or lighter than the rest of the face — especially if the product doesn’t mesh well with your skin. In worse cases, it may even cause scarring.

This is why it’s important to test the chemical exfoliator first on a small patch of skin on your hand and see how it reacts to the formula overnight. It also helps to know what skin type you have, as this will determine the type of ingredients and frequency of exfoliation that works for you. For instance, if you have oily skin, you will need oil-controlling ingredients, like beta-hydroxy acid, but if you have dry skin, you need hydrating ones, like AHAs.

Chemical exfoliation has plenty of benefits, though you have to do your research on the individual product that you will use before applying it to your skin. Should any serious skin complications arise, however, don’t hesitate to visit your local dermatologist and ask for their input.

Written by JBurroughs, 28-09-2021