Score Smooth, Radiant Skin With an Exfoliating Acid

They’re gentler than physical exfoliants, but still just as effective (if not more).

Chemical exfoliant? On my face? The thought may sound intimidating, but chemical exfoliants made with acids (such as salicylic, glycolic and lactic) can actually be gentler on your visage than physical exfoliants, which include grains or ground nut shells. Here’s what you need to know.

A Little Goes a Long Way

Gently pat this on after cleansing and toning, but before moisturizing. Paula’s Choice

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Beta hydroxy acid (BHA, also known as salicylic acid) is known for unclogging pores and targeting breakouts, especially on oily skin. It’s particularly effective for digging out the gunk in pores that leads to white- and blackheads.

On the Go

Toss an individual packet in your overnight bag to wake up to even, glowing skin. M-61

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An exfoliating pad is milder than applying the acid straight to the skin, which makes it ideal for chemical exfoliant newbies. Glycolic acid, also known as alpha hydroxy acid (AHA), is best suited for oily or combination skin rather than ultra-dry or sensitive types.

Fade Hyperpigmentation

Cell turnover reduces the appearance of fine lines and dark spots. Perfect Image

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Lactic acid is derived from milk and retains moisture, which makes it the ideal chemical exfoliant for dry skin. Combined with kojic acid, it can fade sun spots and hydrate while exfoliating.