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What is a chemical exfoliant and why do you need it in your skincare routine?

What is a chemical exfoliant and why do you need it in your skincare routine?

If you want noticeably smoother, clearer and more radiant skin, keep reading to learn everything you need to know about a chemical exfoliant and why you need it in your skincare routine! 


What is exfoliating?

There are two types of exfoliators on the market: chemical and physical. While each possesses its own benefits, both chemical and physical exfoliants effectively eliminate dead skin cells and debris from the outermost layer of the skin, known as the epidermis, promoting accelerated cell turnover. 


As we age, our skin's natural ability to shed dead cells slows down, which can be compounded by factors like stress, and prolonged sun exposure. This leads to dry, flaky skin on the surface that becomes harder to remove. By effectively removing these dead skin cells, we ‘make-up’ for the gradual slowing down of the skin's natural renewal process. 

What are chemical exfoliants?

The term 'chemical' in chemical exfoliants refers to acids that help renew the skin. These acids can come from various sources, including plants, but may also be synthetically produced or derived from other natural substances.


How do exfoliating acids work?

Chemical exfoliants work differently than ‘physical’ exfoliants, rather than removing dead cells by scrubbing them off, they use a mild chemical reaction to break down dead cells. These acids work to dissolve and loosen the cells by breaking the bonds that hold skin cells together. From there, the top layers of the skin cells shed, revealing regenerated skin. 

The breakdown on chemical exfoliants

There are three main types of chemical exfoliants that will provide a variety of skin-loving benefits. Alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs): The AHA family of acids are derived from natural sources, like fruit, milk or sugar. These water-soluble acids exfoliate the outermost layer of your skin, stimulating cell turnover and revealing a smoother, more radiant complexion. 

Poly hydroxy acids (PHAs): Like their AHA counterparts, PHAs function in a similar manner, but with one key distinction: PHA molecules have larger sizes, preventing them from penetrating as deeply into the skin. As a result, PHAs are generally regarded as less irritating.

Beta hydroxy acids (BHAs): BHAs are a great treatment option for acne-prone skin; working to effectively target blemishes, reduce inflammation, and restore balance to the skin, all while maintaining optimal skin health. 

There is no ‘best’ acid as each is different, however they do have a wonderful synergistic effect, meaning they can enhance each other’s benefits if they are formulated together. 

What are the benefits?


- Improves the skin’s natural moisture barrier, hydration and skin radiance.

- Targets hyperpigmentation and acne scarring. 

- Reduces redness, evens skin tone and texture.

- Suitable for most skin types - including sensitive. 

- Enhances other active ingredients' effectiveness.

- Help to unclog pores, preventing the formation of blackheads.

How often should you use chemical exfoliants?

How often you use chemical exfoliants depends on your skin type. Our general guide is one to three times a week, however, there isn’t one answer for all. For those with sensitive skin, start by using it once a week. This will allow your skin to get used to the product, gradually building up a tolerance. Thankfully, it’s easy to notice when you’re exfoliating too much or not enough. Not sure if you’re overdoing it? (read this blog!)

Where do chemical exfoliants fit into your routine?

They go on first once you’ve cleansed. Your chemical exfoliant should be seen as the last step of your cleansing routine and/or the first one of your leave-on products. Be mindful that products that contain AHA’s may increase the skin’s sensitivity to the sun so SPF sunscreen is an absolute daily essential!

Now you know all about chemical exfoliants for the skin…

It’s time to add a chemical exfoliant to your own skincare routine! It seems only fitting we introduce you to our chemical exfoliant, the Saya Brightening Peel

Saya Brightening Peel 

Experience the transformative power of Saya's Brightening Peel. Designed as an overnight miracle worker, this treatment delicately exfoliates, preserves your skin's vitality, and boosts hydration. The result, enhanced texture, even skin tone, and a visible reduction in pigmentary inconsistencies. For a radiant, rejuvenated complexion, apply to freshly cleansed, dry skin before bedtime. If you're new to our peel or looking for optimal outcomes, check out our comprehensive FAQ for expert guidance.

Saya - Natural Australian Skin Care

Saya Skincare offers natural, science-backed formulations that deliver remarkable results. By harnessing the power of active ingredients, combined with the rich resources of native Australian botanicals, and drawing upon extensive research and education, we have created a skincare line that effectively nourishes and fortifies the skin barrier, resulting in a radiant and vibrant complexion.


Saya’s natural Australian skin care is rich in powerful active ingredients to promote healthy and balanced skin. The result is natural skincare that performs synergistically with your skin; encouraging it to naturally balance and heal itself. Discover why everyone is switching to natural skincare, and why you should consider it too!


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