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“Exfoliation Demystified: What’s the difference between AHAs, BHAs, PHAs?”

“Exfoliation Demystified: What’s the difference between AHAs, BHAs, PHAs?”

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Sometimes simplicity is key when it comes to skincare. After playing chemist in our bathrooms for the past few years and trying 11-step skincare routines, we think it’s time to get back to basics and get out the door! If you choose one thing and one thing only to improve your skin, exfoliation is the best way to see instantly radiant results.

Proper exfoliation is essentially removing the dead cells from the top layer of your skin, the epidermis. Your skin is constantly repairing and replacing itself and because of this, those old cells can be left behind. It’s important to incorporate exfoliation into your skincare routine to keep your skin healthy and glowing. If the dead cells are not sluffed off, your skin can become dry and flakey, your pores can become clogged and your skincare products won’t be able to penetrate and do their job. You paid good money for that skincare and we hate to see you throw “cash in the trash” (as our Founder, Jamie O’Banion, often says ;))

When it comes to exfoliation you’ve got options…

Physical or “manual” exfoliation

This type of exfoliation can be done with a scrub, but not all manual exfoliants are for everyone. Some scrubs can be irritating and overly abrasive to your precious skin barrier, especially those containing sugar or nut particles that have jagged edges and can create micro-tears in the skin. It’s important to avoid too much manual exfoliation, it can leave the skin sore with breakouts or rashes. Tip: If you’re an aggressive scrubber (no judgment), use your ring finger and pinky to exfoliate as these naturally apply less pressure than your forefingers or palm of hand.

So what manual exfoliant should you choose? We admit, we’re a bit biased, but we LOVE Glass & Gloss, our pro-grade, two-step facial from home that instantly delivers velvety smooth skin and a natural glow. Glass & Gloss is formulated with round nanodermabrasion crystals that gently buff the skin’s surface for glass-like skin without irritation. Don’t take our word for it, over 70 5-star reviewers agree!


Glass & Gloss

“As an Esthetician and Pro MUA for over 20 years, I am hesitant about ANY manual exfoliate ingredients!! But this is amazing with no scratches or damage to worry about like many drugstore exfoliate ingredients that can break capillaries on the face. With this it was smooth, delicate yet absolutely effective!! Must Try!”

– Esthetician/MUA

Chemical or “liquid” exfoliation

This type of exfoliation uses acids or enzymes to break down the surface cells. Although the term chemical can sound intimidating, everything is a chemical, even water, and acids found in fruit are often used in skincare! Acid groups called AHAs, BHAs, and PHAs are having a trending moment in beauty – as they should! Highly sensitive and acne-prone skin types respond very well to chemical exfoliants because they are less likely to irritate the skin. At first glance, it may feel like you need a chemistry degree to keep it all straight, but here is a simple breakdown of our fave acids:

AHAs are alpha hydroxy acids and the most common type used for a light chemical peel. These are acids that do their thing on the surface of the skin, helping to even out texture, balance oily skin and reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. AHA all-stars include Glycolic Acids (made from sugar) and Lactic Acids (made from milk.)

BHAs are beta hydroxy acids and are more effective for acne-prone skin. These acids dive into the pores and clear out excess “baggage” like dead skin and oil that make pores appear larger. Plus, they regulate oil production so your skin can focus on other things, like being the natural beauty it really is! BHA heroes include Salicylic and Citric Acids. 

PHAs are polyhydroxy acids and a trendy beauty ingredient to banish fine lines and wrinkles. Studies have also suggested that PHAs can help hydrate skin and boost skin cell regeneration. With larger molecules these acids have humectant powers, hydrating the skin as they exfoliate. They also help boost collagen production. PHAs are perfect for more sensitive skin types. We love Gluconolactone Acid!

Now, if you go to the dermatologist for a full-on chemical peel, you are committing to downtime and visible skin peeling along the way. The good news is, that there is an at-home solution that delivers gorgeous results - without downtime or that “snake skin” vibe. If you want to glow on-the-go without even trying, meet your new best friend, Swipe & Glow Peel Pads. Imagine you combined your resurfacing exfoliator, clarifying toner, and hydrating serum into one multi-tasking pad and all you had to do was swipe for clear, glowing skin. Skincare dreams do come true 🤩

Swipe & Glow 3-in-1


Swipe & Glow Peel Pads are clinically proven, single-step peel pads, pre-dosed with multi-acids (AHA/BHA/PHA) plus Niacinamide. These dynamic peel pads brighten the skin after one use while also clarifying and reducing the look of fine lines, uneven skin texture, oiliness, and enlarged pores. They are gentle enough to use everyday thanks to our PHAs and perfect dosing. The “little and often” approach is the way to perfect skincare vs going hard with overly potent formulas that ultimately cause your skin to freak out (Ain’t nobody got time for that).  


Swipe & Glow Peel Pads

Remember, exfoliation is key to any proper skincare routine and it’s the one step you don’t want to skip. No matter what skin type you have, Swipe & Glow Peel Pads have what you need for your best skin yet. Say “Buh-Bye” to dull skin, enlarged pores, and uneven tone. Take back your glow and let your skin steal the show!