Scrub! Scour! Scratch! It all sounds a bit brutal, doesn’t it? All of this buffing up and sluicing down. Surely skincare shouldn’t be this barbaric? After all, how can we expect our faces to come out looking fresh, smooth and healthy if we put them through hell trying to get there?
It’s a tricky one. But as they say, where there’s a will, there’s a pH-balanced ultra-smooth, non-comedogenic way. And that way is chemical exfoliation. Forget your crushed apricot seeds and micro-beads — because chemical exfoliants are the new, silkier way to soften your skin. They’re the smooth without the rough.
How do chemical exfoliants work?
They’re not as scary as they sound. Whack ‘chemical’ in the name of any beauty product — especially one that gets this close to your eyes — and you’ll likely start wincing before you’ve even applied it. But these exfoliants are not only completely safe for everyday use, but also largely natural.
And, while they come in many different forms — think masks, serums, tonics etc — they all work in the same way. Using mostly natural extracts and a trio of acids — glycolic, lactic and salicylic — these products accelerate cell turnover to refine the surface of your skin and make it appear smoother. In simpler terms, they strip away the finest top layer of skin to reveal the fresh, flush glow below.
They're also incredibly easy to use
Easily the easiest way to exfoliate, the mask options don’t require any vigorous cleansing, any specialist scrubbing kit or really any strenuous work at all. Simply apply as often as the product suggests, kick back — or even go to sleep — and let the products do their work.
From Ren Skincare, this Renewal Mask uses grape and blackcurrant seed oil to remove dead skin cells and reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. Kiehl’s overnight facial peel is another natural option; with cactus and quinoa extract accelerating skin cell turnover to give you more radiant skin by the morning. Or, if you’re looking to combat particular patches of your skin, this twice-weekly treatment from Elemis targets uneven skin texture and even scarring.
Ren Glycol Lactic Radiance Renewal Mask
Kiehl’s Nightly Refining Micro-Peel Concentrate
Elemis Dynamic Resurfacing Gel Mask
And it’s not all masks and peels…
Of course, there are quicker ways to exfoliate. Not all of us feel comfortable sleeping with a face mask applied, or have the time to sit around every evening while our peel slowly does its good work. But you don’t have to defer back to destructive abrasives if time is of the essence. Instead, there are chemical serums, tonics and concentrates that’ll do the job just as well — and in half the time.
From Horace, this reasonably priced option many not clear and cleanse your face of every pollutant, but it does get rid of any excess sebum — the oily secretion that can build up and lead to spots and blemishes. Malin + Goetz’s Resurfacing Serum does exactly what it says on the little white bottle; smoothing and brightening by clearing away any dirt, grime or sweat. And Shisheido’s day and night concentrate does it all — reducing dullness, visible pores and excess oil and boosting your skin’s strength and vitality.
Horace Tonic Lotion
Malin + Goetz Resurfacing Face Serum
Shiseido Men Active Energizing Concentrate