Are Chemical Exfoliants Good for Dark skin?

You have probably seen ingredients such as alpha-hydroxy acids and beta hydroxy acids advertised on many skincare products.

If you are wondering what they are and if they are good for dark skin then we have the answer for you.

Alpha-hydroxy acids (AHA)

AHAs are water-soluble acids made from sugary fruits.

If you see glycolic, lactic, tartaric, or citric acids then these are all AHAs.

They are great for:

  • Reducing fine lines
  • Fading pigmentation and age spots
  • Reducing the appearance of enlarged pores

As a person with darker skin who may be prone to hyperpigmentation we advice that you wear sunscreen after using any AHA products.

If you have sensitive skin this may cause irritation as AHA exfoliates dead skin and the top layer of your skin. We advice that you use minimum concentration of 5-10% then work your way up. Apply every other day.


Beta-hydroxy acid (salicylic acid)

BHA is an organic compound commonly known as Salicylic acid.

It occurs naturally in the bark of the willow tree, some are present in wintergreen leaves, Gaultheria procumbens, and in sweet birch bark.

closeup photo of brown tree bark

If you go to the store you are bound to find a product with Salicylic acid. 

They are great for:

  • Acne prone skin
  • Removing dead skin
  • Getting deeper into the pores to remove excess sebum
  • Improving texture of sun damaged skin
  • Unclog pores and reduce inflammation
  • All skin types
  • Can clearing pimples, blackheads, and whiteheads
  • Fading dark spots

As a person with darker skin who may be prone to hyperpigmentation we advice that you wear sunscreen after using any BHA products.

Studies have shown that salicylic acid is less irritating than skin care products containing alpha-hydroxy acids, while providing similar improvement in skin texture and color.

Whether salicylic acid successfully exfoliates the skin depends on concentration and pH of the product. Exfoliant products that are too alkaline will not work.

Anyone who uses salicylic acid must be sure to rinse it off according to product instructions.

People with sensitive skin should not use salicylic acid.


Check out some safe chemical exfoliants that have proven to work well on darker skin.

3 secrets to clear skin 

- Balance your hormones

- Increase your antioxidant intake

- Reduce your carbs & dairy intake

Rich Skxn