Chemical exfoliants are acids which help to remove dead skin cells to reveal healthy skin cells. There are two types of chemical exfoliants, Alpha Hydroxy Acids, also known as AHA's, and Beta Hydroxy Acids also known as BHA. Alpha hydroxy acids work not only to exfoliate skin but also help skin rejuvenation and may help tackle an uneven skin tone.
The most common alpha hydroxy acids are glycolic acid and lactic acid. Glycolic acid has the smallest molecule size meaning it can penetrate deep into the skin. With regular use glycolic acid can increase overall thickness of skin by boosting collagen and elastin production. If you have sensitive skin, glycolic acid may not be for you since it can for some people cause inflammation depending upon the strength used.
Lactic acid is ideal for sensitive skin types because of its larger molecule. It may be derived from dairy or corn and helps improve skin discolouration and age spots.
Salicylic acid is the most common beta hydroxy acid, BHA. Because it is oil-soluble, salicylic acid is best for oily, acne-prone skin. It can get deep into the pores where it can help remove debris and oils to help prevent acne breakouts.
Chemical peels for at-home use much higher concentrations of AHA's and BHA. Always patch test and follow the instructions.