Acid Exfoliants: Database

This spreadsheet is meant to be a starting point to show that there are different acid exfoliation products at various price points and strengths and with different combinations of AHAs/BHA. 

Here is a link to more information (and an infographic) about the different types of AHAs and BHA

Here is a link to a post and infographic on Free Acid Value


Clicking on the link below will open up the complete Excel spreadsheet. I added different tabs to help sort through the list of 105 products. There is a tab that shows products that can be considered mild, moderate or strong based on their free acid value, and I added a tab to look for products with Glycolic acid (either alone or in a blend), Lactic acid (alone or in a blend), Mandelic acid (alone or in a blend), or salicylic acid.

I still need to add more products that only have salicylic acid (BHA), but this is a starting point.

Click here for the database.

*Some links in the table below are affiliate links. When you make a purchase through these links, I will earn a very small commission (this commission is in no way added to the price you pay for any items purchased through these links). This compensation helps support the time and effort that went into creating and maintaining content for you all.

If you want to filter the data, you will need to click on “Data” –> “Filter views”–> “Create a temporary filter view”

Important Things to Note:

  1. In terms of the ingredients, this ONLY focuses on the type and percent of the featured AHA/BHA. It is important to also look at the complete ingredient list as some products might include other ingredients that could help reduce irritation, increase irritation, or provide additional benefits other than exfoliation.
  2. When companies listed a range of pH values, I went with the high end of the range.
  3. The lower a product’s pH, the greater the potential for irritation.
  4. In products with blends, the pKa for the first acid listed in the ingredient list was used to calculate the free acid value. Therefore, the % free acid is a rough estimate for acid blends.
  5. A percentage may be listed in the name of the product, but that doesn’t indicate it’s free acid value. I left those percentages in so that you could find the correct product as some names only change in terms of percent acid (e.g., Garden of Wisdom Mandelic Acid 15% vs. Garden of Wisdom Mandelic Acid %10 Serum).
  6. It is helpful to look at the total acid percentage in addition to the free acid percentage. A larger overall acid percentage (found under the “total acid percentage” will have a buffering effect thanks to equilibrium).
    • Two products with the same total acid percentage but different free acid percentages could give more similar results than two products with different total acid percentages but the same free acid percentage. (Thanks to @Labmuffinbeautyscience for pointing this out!)
  7. If formula’s change, the pH may change as well. Also, some countries may have slightly different formulations, so it is always beneficial to pH test your own products.  For some pH strips and meters see this post.
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