Chemical Exfoliants: The Tingly Secret Weapon Your Skincare Arsenal Needs

Chemical exfoliants (peels), work by breaking the bonds between your skin’s cells by breaking up dead skin and creating a clean, even surface. They penetrate deeper into the skin than physical exfoliants, and often have a smooth, gel-like texture versus a gritty texture found in regular exfoliants. A chemical peel is ideal for skin with sun damage, pigmentation, acne scarring, fine lines, clogged pores and more.

There are three different stages of chemical exfoliants ranging from superficial to medium to deep. Superficial peels are OK to do at home, but a medium or deep peel should be done by a licensed cosmetologist.

  1. Drunk Elephant TLC Sukari Baby Facial (click here)

This at-home facial contains 25% AHAs and 2% BHAs, which makes it a high-intensity mask. It has the consistency of hummus—it even contains chickpea flour to brighten the skin. This facial penetrates the skin with strong ingredients like lactic acid and citric acid.

  1. The Ordinary Peeling Solution (click here)

Although it is an entirely different consistency and an entirely different price tag, many people in the beauty community claim that this solution is a dupe for Drunk Elephant when it comes to results. It is a liquid consistency that looks like wine or blood on the skin. If you saw the Kim Kardashian vampire facial, this will give you that appearance at home—have fun scaring your S.O. or roommate!

  1. Tarte Knockout Tingle Treatment Toner (click here)

If you are worried about the tingly sensation from chemical exfoliants, this is the most gentle on the list. This Tarte toner has calming, soothing, and even hydrating ingredients like niacinamide and glycerin to keep the skin balanced without over-stimulating it.

The mix of lactic acid and salicylic acid in this toner is ideal for minimizing pores, reducing oils, and clarifying the skin, without the same risk of redness and irritation. This is a great treatment if you have sensitive or dry skin, but still want to fight things like acne and roughness.

  1. Glossier Solution (click here)

If you have oily skin or acne, this is the product for you. The solution is thin as water and when applied with a cotton pad, it penetrates the skin to fight acne, redness, and enlarged pores.

The before and afters on the Glossier site are beyond impressive, but this solution can be very drying if you are sensitive to benzoyl peroxide or have easily irritated skin. I would recommend this tingly toner for teens and young adults with oily skin.

  1. Biossance Squalane + Glycolic Renewal Facial (click here)

Here we have a two in one: this facial provides both chemical and physical exfoliants. The scrub-like mineral spheres can be too intense for some skin types, so this treatment should be used once per week at most.


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