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I had a perplexing experience with a chemical exfoliant, and months later I'm still not sure what was going on with my skin. I've dealt with acne for years, and I've come to the conclusion that it's partly hormonal and partly due to genetically oily skin and large pores. Anyway, several months ago I started using The Ordinary's AHA 30% + BHA 2% Peeling Solution because I wanted to try chemical exfoliation. (At the time, I didn't realize I should gradually introduce my skin to chemical exfoliants and not just bombard it, although it seemed not to matter.) It contains glycolic, lactic, and salicylic acids.

Basically, it was like a miracle cure overnight. I went from having pretty constant, mild-to-moderate breakouts on most parts of my face to having pretty clear skin, and this lasted for about a month. I thought I had found an actual solution (which was euphoric considering how many products and methods I've tried), but my acne came back suddenly and even worse than before around a month after I started using the product. When it came back, I kept using the peel and only used it once a week to see if it was just temporary, but the breakouts persisted and I got painful zits where I had previously gotten my skin under control, so I stopped using it. 

When I used it, I only used it 2-3 times a week, like the instructions say, and I was sure to never leave it on longer than 10 minutes. I never experienced much burning or any other irritation like dryness or redness. I wasn't combining it with anything other than maybe tea tree oil. I use a mild face wash and mild moisturizer. I just don't get why it stopped working so suddenly. As of now, I've gotten my face a little more under control, but it still seems like I get more aggressive zits on my chin than I did before I used the product. For many months prior and throughout my use of the peel I was also on a steady treatment for my hormonal acne, which had reduced my most painful acne in certain parts of my face (yet didn't keep this painful acne from flaring up again after using the peel). So I know my breakout while on the peel wasn't due to a sudden flux in hormones.

Has anyone had any experiences like this using this product or the chemical exfoliants in it? I am debating if I should reintroduce chemical exfoliants more into my skincare routine, considering how great they supposedly are for acne and scarring. I started using The Ordinary's Glycolic Acid 7% Toning Solution a few months ago because I thought my skin probably still needed light exfoliation, but I only use it at night and only on the parts of my face that get mild acne--I keep it away from the parts of my face that tend to break out worse. It seems to do an okay job, but I still don't know what to think. Any other advice or knowledge as to what happened here or the nature of chemical exfoliants would be greatly appreciated! :)

Edited by jewel22

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Unfortunately I’ve found the same. When I first bought the above feeling solution it seemed to work wonders and gives baby soft skin. Recently, whenever I use it I get really painful acne pop up afterwards. I think it is due to stripping the skin and exposing it to aggravating elements (sun, air pollution). I’ve even found that weaker acids that used to work on my skin now dry it out and strip it so have had to stop completely. For me, topical antioxidants are the most powerful in clearing inflammatory acne. My skin loves The Ordinary’s ALA. 

I think leave on acids can be too harsh on sensitive acne-prone skin. For more directly killing acne bacteria and fading scars, try topical vitamin C (in addition to Niacinamide for oil control).

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Thank you for sharing your experiences! I've wondered if those kinds of acids may just be too harsh on my skin. I did try a topical antioxidant cream once, but I will definitely be checking into different antioxidants again. I've also never tried niacinamide, and after searching it up it sounds like something worth trying. Thanks again! :)

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