When done using a proper approach for your skin type, skin exfoliation will reduce irritation and help you get desired outcomes. Chemical exfoliants benefit some skin types more than others. You’ll be well on discovering the proper acid after you’ve identified your skin type.

Chemical Exfoliation Based On Skin Type

1.      Dry or sensitive skin

Dry skin is characterized by low sebum production. The low sebum makes it easier for the skin to lose water easily due to environmental influences like temperature and air currents. What is left is dry skin. People with dry skin benefit from Ordinary Lactic Acid that contains alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs). AHAs exert their effect on the skin’s surface and therefore prevent moisture loss.

On the other hand, sensitive skin refers to a skin type easily irritated by factors that a well-balanced skin would easily tolerate. Beta hydroxy acids (BHAs) are the best choice for people with sensitive skin types. Also, polyhydroxy acids (PHAs) found in COSRX Hydrium Moisture Power Enriched Cream are a good choice for sensitive skin types.

2.      Oily or acne-prone skin

An oily skin type has an overproduction of sebum (Seborrhea). Formulations such as Paula’s Choice Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Exfoliant contain BHAs, which are good for unplugging skin pores. The only drawback is making the skin drier. Combining salicylic acid with AHAs has been proven to counteract this effect.

Chemical Exfoliation by Skin Type

3.      Combination of skin

Combination skin has both dry and oily parts. In the face, the oily part forms a T-shape (forehead, nose, and chin) while the cheeks are dry. Because of these attributes, this skin type requires exfoliants that are good for oily and dry skin. CeraVe Resurfacing Retinol Serum is a lightweight gel formulation that unplugs clogged pores and removes excess sebum in the T-zone.

4.  Mature skin

Mature skin has signs of aging, such as the appearance of wrinkles. AHAs alleviate skin aging by removing fine lines and deeper wrinkles to deal with these manifestations. They also can improve the feel of the skin enabling a glowing appearance. L’Oreal Paris Skincare Collagen Face Moisturizer has several anti-oxidants and AHAs capable of alleviating signs of aging skin.

5.      Hyperpigmentation or scarring

Prolonged exposure to the sun and skin inflammation may result in the overproduction of melanin as a protective factor leading to visible dark marks and scars. Strong AHA formulations can reduce the visibility of scars and hyperpigmented areas by encouraging cell turnover. With lactic acid, glycolic acid, citric acid, malic acid, and salicylic acid, SkinMedica AHA/BHA Exfoliating Cleanser removes dark spots and hydrates the skin.

6.      Sun-damaged skin

AHAs have demonstrated impressive in minimizing the effects of sun damage. Combining two AHAs, glycolic and lactic acid restores even skin texture and removes surface hyperpigmentation while boosting normal cell turnover by combining two acids. Both are present in Paula’s Choice RESIST Smoothing Treatment.

7.      Skin prone to ingrown hairs

AHAs such as lactic acid and BHA (salicylic acid) are two acids that can mitigate ingrown hairs. They do this by removing dead skin, smoothing the feel of the skin, and mechanically pulling ingrown hairs to the surface. For added relaxing effects, use Malin + Goetz Essential Grapefruit Face Cleanser.

How Often Should a Person Exfoliate?

The frequency of chemical exfoliation of the skin depends on the skin type. People with oily skin need to exfoliate more frequently than those with dry or sensitive skin types. Besides, an individual should exfoliate less frequently if they use a stronger exfoliant (in terms of concentration and pH).

If you experience skin irritation, you should consider doing it less often or switching to an alternative exfoliation approach. Dermatologists recommend one to three times a week to reduce the risk of too much exfoliation and the likelihood of skin irritation. Skin exfoliation should be halted temporarily in the event of skin irritation until the skin has healed. 

Consulting a duly qualified healthcare practitioner, such as a dermatologist, may aid in uncovering the optimal frequency of skin exfoliation.

What Could Happen in Case of Over- or Under-exfoliation?

There are usually tell-tale signs of over-exfoliating or under-exfoliating.  A rough feel, a dull appearance, and the sense that your skincare exfoliants are no longer performing owing to an accumulation of dead skin are all signs of not exfoliating enough.

Halt exfoliation until your skin has fully recovered if you suffer any of the symptoms mentioned above. Irritation, redness, and drying are typical side effects of exfoliating too much. Breakouts and peeling are also possible.

What happens in Over or Under-Exfoliation


Exfoliation aids in the removal of dead skin cells and fosters a glowing look of the skin. Physical and chemical exfoliation techniques are both efficient and friendly on the skin.

Chemical exfoliation is a simple and efficient approach to achieving that cherished shine as long as you are attentive to your skin’s needs. Before exfoliating, one should examine their skin type and proper ways to ensure they get the maximum benefit. Exfoliating too much or using chemical exfoliants not compatible with your skin type can wreak havoc on the skin.

Always begin cautiously and with a modest concentration. If your skin appears to be okay, gradually increase the frequency and concentration of the exfoliants until you get the intended outcome.