A 5 Step Full Body AHA/BHA Chemical Peel Routine

This is a full guide to the AHA/BHA peel. The Ordinay’s AHA/BHA peel is an effective but inexpensive way to exfoliate your back and chest. Exfoliation and revealing glowy skin can have benefits for not only the face but for all over the body. Doing a full body exfoliation can  help with things like keratosis pilaris on the arms and legs, it can help with razor burn, and even folliculitis. Folliculitis looks like little bumps or pimples, and they are common on the buttocks. For all of these skin concerns, exfoliation can be great and using the AHA/BHA peeling solution is a wonderful option. However, take into account that this product can sting and burn. Because it is the highest concentration of AHAs and BHAs that you can get over the counter, there’s a lot of room for things to go wrong. 

The Ordinary AHA 30% + BHA 2% Peeling Solution - $8.00



While The Ordinary’s AHA/BHA peeling solution is very potent, it can make an amazing body exfoliant when used properly. Before starting, make sure that you patch test and be sure to follow the manufacturer's directions (10 minutes on dry skin). But before you even put it on, there are a couple of things you need like an applicator brush, a gentle body cleanser, an acid neutralizer, and a towel. Having a good acid neutralizer allows you to rinse the acid peel off just in case it gets somewhere that it shouldn’t be or becomes irritating. Once again, before doing this all over the body, you’ll need to patch test first. Even using it on the face first will allow you to gauge it's effect before applying it to your entire body. 

Chemical peel Neutralizer - $11.95

Eco tools foundation brush to apply -$4.89


#1 The first step before full application is cleansing. 

You don’t want any serums, sweat, or oils on your body when applying this. Cassandra enjoys cleansing with a really gentle body cleanser first. For this, body cleansers that are non-exfoliating and don’t leave any kind of film behind are great. Cassandra particularly loves this one.

Nécessaire Fragrance-Free: The Body Wash - With Niacinamide -$25

You want to make sure that your body wash is removed completely. Again, make sure that your body wash has no exfoliating acids, no little beads, and no other exfoliants because the AHA/BHA is going to do the exfoliation and the glowing up for us. Once you’ve finished cleansing, and you're out of the shower, dry off, and pat down with a towel because this needs to be applied on dry skin.

#2 Secondly, locate your sensitive areas, any cuts, or wounds.

If you’re worried about the solution dripping into some of those more sensitive areas, you can use Vaseline to make sure you protect those. Next, you want to be sure that you’re careful around eyes, nose, and body. 

Solimo Petroleum Jelly -$3.07

For safe, even, and easy application, Cassandra likes to apply the AHA/BHA solution with a fan brush or a foundation brush. A fan brush will give you lighter coverage and a foundation brush will give you a thicker, more even coverage. When it comes to this bottle, it has 30 ml or one fluid ounce of product, and when using a brush, Cassandra finds that she can do two to three neck-to-toe coverings before running out. So, considering that the entire bottle is under ten dollars, it’s actually a really good bang for your buck. Compared to a traditional full-body chemical peel, this cost much less. Now, she does like to apply this with a brush for ease of application. Having  a cup or a mug that you can drop the brush into is also helpful. 

#3 Now, we’re ready to apply. 

Tie up your hair if necessary, and remember to put on a timer because you don’t want to leave this on for more than 10 minutes. Now, first begin applying the peel to the most resilient areas or least sensitive areas of your skin. For Cassandra, that is normally the shoulders, chest, and back. That is where Cassandra’s skin tends to be thickest. So, she covers this first.

If you want to exfoliate the armpits or any skin folds where the skin rubs, be very gentle, and let it sit for only 5 minutes. Completely avoid the genital areas and any areas on the body that have cuts or open wounds. Also, don’t apply this to an area that has mucus membranes (eyes, nose, and mouth). You don’t want the peel to get inside of the body. 

Next, Cassandra moves onto her arms and legs. She starts with her lower legs, knees, and elbows because they tend to have thicker skin. Finally, she move upwards to areas on the stomach which tend to be a lot more sensitive. As you’re applying, check how your skin feels. Is your skin stinging, or does it feel okay? Although it’s fine to stand in a steamy bathroom, the water should be off at this time, and your skin should be dry. 

Make sure that you are not applying this on any cuts, bruises, or fissures in the skin. Some of the areas that Cassandra likes to apply this are the knees and elbows. Knees and elbows can tend to get a little bit rough. This exfoliates them because the AHAs help moisturize those areas. Cassandra also loves this solution on dry knees and elbows. Another great place to put this is your lower calves especially if you have shaving bumps. This works so well for areas with stubble or ingrown hairs. If you’re like Cassandra, and you get folliculitis, or pseudofolliculitis, this peeling solution is also great. A lot of people confuse these skin concern for acne, but they're not. In addition to exfoliating, avoiding humid climates and tight clothes also helps with folliculitis. If you want to exfoliate psuedofolliculitis on the buttock area, remember that we should not going into the creases.

This peel also works fantastic on the chest and the back if you have sun spots, hyperpigmentation, active acne, and scars. Cassandra has active acne all down her back, and it’s been fantastic for resolving that. Of course, this is a hard to reach area, so using a foundation brush or a fan brush can be very beneficial.

However, we don’t want chemical burns, rebound hyperpigmentation, or overstripping. So, make sure that you only apply this for 10 minutes (except for the arm pits), and don’t do it more than once or twice a week. Cassandra does it maybe once or twice a month. 

#4 Once 5 minutes (sensitive areas like armpits) or 10 minutes has gone by, it’s time to wash off. 

While rinsing, make sure that the water isn’t too hot. Hot water after a chemical peel is not a good idea, but make sure the water isn’t freezing cold either. The safest thing you can do is use room temperature or lukewarm water. Rinse gently or put cleansing soap on your sensitive areas to provide a buffer from the AHA/BHA. If it gets into any of those areas, make sure you’re rinsing and flushing that out. This isn’t a major concern though. Cassandra has been doing this for a year, and nothing has gone wrong. 

Once you’re done, you want to pat yourself dry, and make sure that you’re not scrubbing at the skin because you just exfoliated. Make sure that you pat dry and remove any water or moisture from your skin. Now that your skin is freshly exfoliated, you can apply a hydrator or moisturizer. It's best to use something with little potential to irritate the skin upon penetrating it. A hydrator with ceramides, glycerin, niacinamides, and  antioxidants are wonderful. Just avoid anything that has any sort of exfoliating acids, heavy fragrance, or essential oil. Since you just exfoliated the outer layer of your epidermis, the stratum corneum, you don’t want ingredients like that penetrating deeply. 

It’s also to good to protect this new layer of skin from the sun. 

Because we’ve removed those dead keratinocytes, those outer skin cells, our skin is more susceptible to sunburn.

#5 So, make sure that you’re using sunscreen. 

You can even wear long sleeves and a hat while you’re driving in the car. You could also drape a towel around your arm to prevent getting any unnecessary sun exposure. When it comes to body sunscreens, you can use the same sunscreen that you use on the face, but normally facial sunscreens cost more. 

Some really good sunscreens are the UV Aero from Elta MD which is good  although it's pasty. The Think Baby is a good one. It’s inexpensive, but a bit pasty as well. Cassandra often uses it all over her body. Here are some other good but inexpensive body sunscreens too 

Juice Beauty SPF 30 Oil-Free Moisturizer - $32

REN Clean Screen Mattifying SPF 30 - $40

MyChelle Sun Shield SPF 28 - $25.99

The Ordinary Mineral SPF 30 w Antioxidants - $9.70

Cleure Daily SPF 40 -$40

Dermalogica Invisible Physical SPF 30 - $45

Mineral/physical sunscreens are great for after the AHA/BHA peels. If you aren’t used to chemical sunscreens, it could burn, especially after you freshly exfoliate the skin. So, as long as you don’t mind a little bit of white cast or rubbing it in, a physical sunscreen would be a great option. Don’t forget to take before and after pictures to see if it’s working. Taking before and after pictures helps to see if your ingrown hairs, acne scars, sun spots, ashy ankles, and ashy knees are improving.  Be safe, review the instructions, and enjoy beautiful butterflies!