A “basic” skincare routine generally involves just three steps (that should’ve been ingrained in us by now): cleanse, tone, moisturise. Perhaps the occasional serum, if we feel our skin needs it. But that’s more like the usual skin maintenance – like “housekeeping” – to take care of skin health.
If you’re looking to take your routine up a notch – which would, of course, translate to a clearer, smoother and brighter complexion – we recommend adding an extra step to the basics. Include a product that chemically exfoliates your skin.
Now, before you jump at the thought (Chemicals! Exfoliation! Both together!), chemical exfoliation is anything but scary or painful. It also doesn’t include using scrubs (which may potentially cause micro tears in your skin).
Instead, these chemical exfoliators are mostly products that are infused with alpha-hydroxy acids (AHAs) which help to slough away dull, dead skin cells that your cleanser may not be able to get at.
Common AHAs used in skincare products include glycolic acid and lactic acid. Most of these products are leave-on ones that you simply slather on like how you’d use a moisturiser. The acids in these formulas then work on the uppermost layers of the skin’s, “eating away” the dead (or dying) cells to reveal radiant, brighter, cleaner skin beneath.
For people who’ve never tried chemical exfoliants before, we suggest incorporating just one product first so that your skin gets used to the effects of AHAs. Take your pick from our favourite ones below:
DR. DENNIS GROSS ALPHA BETA UNIVERSAL DAILY PEEL, $135 FOR A BOX OF 30 SHEETS
The universal formula in these wipes is a combination of five different acids: glycolic, lactic, malic, citric and salicylic. The founders, Dennis and Carrie Gross, call this the at-home equivalent of a chemical peel, without the recovery time. The formula is made to be gentle enough for first-time peel users.
Use step one to “activate” the AHAs, then wait two minutes before using step two, which has neutralising and soothing actives to calm and balance the skin.
SUNDAY RILEY GOOD GENES ALL-IN-ONE LACTIC ACID TREATMENT, FROM $148
It’s not the brand’s best-selling product without good reason – potent, concentrated lactic acid works almost instantly in exfoliating dull and pore-clogging dead skin cells.
Rosier skin can be seen within minutes of using the face treatment. Cherry on top: it’s also enhanced with liquorice for a brightening effect, and aloe to soothe irritated skin.
ALLIES OF SKIN BRIGHT FUTURE OVERNIGHT FACIAL, $159
Use this as a sleeping mask, to wake up to brighter, clearer skin.
The formula has a blend of AHAs, retinol and probiotics that work together to rid skin of dullness.
All these active ingredients are encapsulated in a concentrated hyaluronic acid gel, and are slowly released throughout the night to constantly nourish and exfoliate your skin as you sleep.
PIXI GLOW TONIC, FROM $9
This is a toner than a face treatment. Use this as a supplement to your cleanser to really get healthy, glowing skin. Its gentle exfoliating properties, thanks to glycolic acid in the formula, slough off dull skin patches.
DR. ROEBUCKS DAINTREE AHA BRIGHTENING MASK, $36
Infused with caviar lime (that’s rich in AHAs), this natural exfoliating mask will not only reveal brighter skin, but also even out uneven skin tone. Apply a thick layer for 10-20 minutes as a wash-off mask, or a thin layer as an overnight treatment.
This article was first published in Her World Online .