Arrow Fat Left Icon Arrow Fat Right Icon Arrow Right Icon Cart Icon Close Circle Icon Expand Arrows Icon Facebook Icon Instagram Icon Hamburger Icon Information Icon Down Arrow Icon Mail Icon Mini Cart Icon Person Icon Ruler Icon Search Icon Shirt Icon Triangle Icon Bag Icon Play Video
  • Beginner Acids: How To Get Started With Acid Exfoliation
  • Post author
    Kay Beauty

Beginner Acids: How To Get Started With Acid Exfoliation


Hello my fellow beauty lovers! Kay Beauty here, for another edition of skincare tips for you lovelies! Today we are going to discuss beginner acids. Many of you have told me that starting acid exfoliation can be intimidating with the sheer amount of information and the variety of products out there, so maybe it’s a time for a bit of hand-holding!

If you have no idea what acid exfoliation is, please take a look at one of our previous posts: AHAS, BHAS, AND PHAS: WHICH ACIDS ARE RIGHT FOR YOUR SKIN? This will give you a general overview of what chemical exfoliants are, and which ones you might want to use.

A Few Words Of Caution

One of the greatest dangers with starting acid exfoliation is over-exfoliation and irritation. The best advice I can give you is to LISTEN TO YOUR SKIN. If it feels taut, itchy, and stings, it’s a good idea to back off of the acid exfoliation and let your skin recover.

The second danger is sun damage. Acid exfoliation (especially with AHAs) can leave your skin more sensitive to the sun. I know I don’t need to tell you to be wearing sunscreen every day, but be hyper vigilant with the broad-spectrum sunscreen when you’re exfoliating.

Now, let’s go step by step with a few different sample products, so we can understand how to apply them to the skin.

Cosrx AHA 7 Whitehead Power Liquid


The Cosrx AHA is a classic acid exfoliation product. AHAs help to smooth skin texture, lighten pigmentation, and impart a glow to the skin. This light AHA liquid contains 7% AHA, which is an effective concentration, but not overly harsh.

How to use it:

  • Cleanse your skin with a mild cleanser, and pat your skin dry
  • Apply the AHA evenly over the skin with your hands or a cotton pad (if using hands, be sure to rinse off the liquid afterwards)
  • Give the AHA liquid a few minutes to absorb and to do its work before continuing with the rest of your skincare routine
  • Give your skin extra nourishing and moisturizing products to help it recover from the exfoliation
  • When first starting, use every 3-4 days and then increase frequency as your skin permits

Note on wait times: You may have heard that you should wait after cleansing your skin to allow your skin’s pH to normalize before applying AHA, and to wait several minutes again after applying the AHA to allow the acid to work. While wait times may optimize the efficacy of the product, this isn’t something you need to worry about as a beginner. If anything, you want to err on the side of slightly more attenuated or weaker effects rather than the optimal strength possible!

Wish Formula Optima 7 Pads

Wish Formula is an up and coming KBeauty brand that specializes in treatment products with effective actives such as AHAs and BHAs. I’m quite excited to see what new products they have to offer! The Optima 7 Pads contain a 5% AHA solution, which is quite gentle, making it perfect as a beginner acid product. The jar contains 50 sheets, and when used every few days will last you a few months.

How to use it:

  • Cleanse skin gently with a mild cleanser and pat skin dry
  • Swipe pads GENTLY over skin. Because this AHA is in a pad form, be careful not to physically over-exfoliate by rubbing the pad too hard on your skin.
  • Give the AHA a few minutes to absorb and to do its work before continuing with the rest of your skincare routine
  • Give your skin extra nourishing and moisturizing products to help it recover from the exfoliation
  • When first starting, use every 3-4 days and then increase frequency as your skin permits

As you can see, you’re using it almost exactly the same way as the Cosrx AHA Liquid, except in pad form.

Wish Formula C200 Bubble Peeling Pads

You can trust a KBeauty company to make a utilitarian skincare step like exfoliating into something fun and innovative. In this case, the Wish Formula C200 Bubble Peeling Pads contain a sponge saturated in AHA and Vitamin C, and a bubbling formula. You squeeze the sponge to make it bubble up and massage it over your face for 3 minutes. Unlike the previous two AHA products discussed, you rinse the solution off after exfoliating with it.

This is the one of the most unique exfoliating products I’ve seen on the market. It also gets great feedback for how effective it is and how fun it is to use.

How to use it:

  • Cleanse skin and pat dry
  • Remove C200 sponge pad from package and squeeze to produce bubbles
  • Massage the textured sponge side over face GENTLY for 2-3 minutes (stick to 2 if you have more sensitive skin)
  • Flip the sponge over (you can move the ribbon to the other side) and use the smooth side to pat the essence into your skin until absorbed
  • Rinse off the excess foam with lukewarm water
  • Continue with your skincare routine

There are a few exfoliating products that need to be washed off, like the Neogen Wine Peeling Pads, so be sure to take a look at what the package instructions say to do.

General Guidelines

  • In general, use acid exfoliants directly after cleansing skin
  • The exception to putting acids directly on cleansed skin is if you want to use a pH-adjusting (acidic) toner to prep your skin so the acids can be more effective. I wouldn’t recommend this if you’re a complete beginner though.
  • Follow up with your regular skincare routine, taking extra care to moisturize and nourish the skin, because even the most gentle exfoliation compromises the skin’s moisture barrier to some extent
  • When you’re using an exfoliating product, your skin might purge its clogged impurities by breaking into small pimples or whiteheads. This can be normal and should resolve within a couple weeks. However, if your skin is reacting with major breakouts, inflammation, irritation, or a rash, PLEASE STOP. Not all products are for everyone.

I’ll leave you with a little infographic I made if you need help visualizing where to put acids in your routine.


I hope you enjoyed this week’s blog post, and leave me a comment if you have questions!



  • Post author
    Kay Beauty

Comments on this post (0)

Leave a comment