Intermediate Exfoliating Acids

Intermediate Exfoliating Acids

By Kate Limond
13/04/2023 | Read time: 5m

If you’ve used gentle acids and you’re looking to step up your exfoliation, here’s two medium strength products that aren’t harsh!

Jumiso Yes, I Am Toner AHA 5%


It’s pretty watery compared to the Cosrx AHA 7 Whitehead Power liquid.

Whilst I prefer the texture of the Cosrx, the Cosrx has a chemical smell – I find it doesn’t bother me because I can’t really smell it anymore. But it might be off-putting for some people!

The Jumiso isn’t as easy to apply as the Cosrx but it’s more gentle and it smells great! People sensitive to lemon oil would struggle with this, no stinging or signs of redness from the lemon oil!


There’s whole host of great ingredients in this product!

Obviously, there’s the acids – a combination of lactic and glycolic acid, which is excellent because lactic acid is more gentle than glycolic acid. So combining the two makes it easier to tolerate, which is why I’ve called this “intermediate acids”.

It’s unusual to see an exfoliating product that also has my beloved fermented ingredients, so I just had to try it! This is my latest ode to ferment but I’ve written plenty of others, like this and this.


Because of the lemony scent, I was a bit concerned about irritation, particular in conjunction with the acids. However, there was no stinging on application, which I mentioned above, and no irritation the next day.

I also use Benton Aloe BHA Skin toner and to be safe, I separated these – Benton AM, Jumiso PM. I stopped using Cosrx AHA whilst I tested the Jumiso, to avoid over-exfoliation.

I think the Jumiso would be a great option if you’ve used one of Cosrx’s daily acids or the Beauty of Joseon Green Plum Refreshing AHA + BHA Toner and you’re looking for something a bit more potent.

However, sadly, the Jumiso broke me out. I don’t expect it to be purging because I’ve been using an AHA for nearly six months now and I’ve also used lactic acid before too. In case you haven’t heard the term “purging” it refers a period of adjustment where your spots come to the surface because your skin cells are turning over more quickly than they were before you started the product.

I’m really sad about the breakout because the Jumiso smells so nice, has fermented ingredients and I was looking for a less intense acid than my Cosrx AHA Whitehead Power liquid that I can use more often.

Despite the fact it broke me out, it’s a good intermediate product with great Ingredients.

Skin1004 Madagascar Centella Toning Toner


It has a thin water-like texture and it’s very similar to the Jumiso in that respect.

I would, of course, rather have something a bit thicker but I’m not going to argue with a good product that is thinner than I’d prefer!


First, let’s talk about PHA: poly hydroxy acid, an ingredient that exfoliates (gluconolactone in this product).

So I’ve written about acids before here but PHAs are a bit special: they are less irritating than AHAs and they can also even out skin tone!

If you thought glycolic acid would be too harsh for your skin, a product with PHA is a great alternative.

Whilst the Skin1004 has PHA and niacinamide, the ingredient concentrations aren’t disclosed, so it’s hard to know if those ingredients are included in effective amounts.

However, the overall ingredient list is excellent: PHA (exfoliating and moisturising), niacinamide (brightening and potentially barrier repair), betaine (moisturising), liquorice extract (brightening), hyaluronic acid (hydrating) and adenosine (anti-inflammatory).

Because it’s a well-rounded ingredient list, I will forgive the fact that there’s no information on percentages and let’s not forget Skin1004’s signature ingredient: centella asiatica!

I’ve written lots about centella asiatica’s soothing properties before, in toners, serums and sheet masks, so I won’t repeat it all here!

I had tried a Skin1004 product before and I was impressed by it so I’m really pleased UNBLEMISH now stocks this brand!


I’ve tried a few AHA products and they always sting baby pimples. Always!

This Skin1004 product doesn’t sting at all – I wonder if the centella asiatica offsets any potential irritation?

Other reasons could be that AHAs tend to be at a lower pH than the Skin1004 (this is 5.5 according to their site) so that might be why they sting. It could also be down to the concentration – there might not be as much PHA in this as there is AHA in the Cosrx AHA Whitehead Power liquid, for example.

Of course, we’re all wearing sunscreen daily regardless of whether we’re using acids or not but AHAs can make your skin more sensitive to the sun.

Great news: PHAs don’t! So I feel comfortable using this regularly in the morning.

As with anything I mention about acids: start out slow if you’re new to chemical exfoliation. And even if you’re not, go slow when you add a new acid product to your routine. And patch test!

Thanks to all my lovely K-Beauty products that have been strengthening my barrier over the last few years, I can manage acids without too much of an issue. I’m still cautious when introducing a new one.

I happened to give my skin saviour, Isntree C-Niacin Toning Ampoule to a friend in need, and then I got a breakout all along my jaw line from a hair product. Sigh.

Anyway, in the absence of the Isntree, the Skin1004 came to the rescue! It’s been helping to reduce the breakout in a nice, calming manner – although it doesn’t work as quickly as the Isntree for me.

The Skin1004, like the Isntree, is a great gentle product that is very hydrating and should help with breakouts. I’m pretty sure it’s going to be a regular product in my routine going forward!

Final Word

It’s excellent to know that I’ve got several products that really gentle but will help with breakouts.

As always, what is easy to tolerate for me might be harsh for you: please patch test, introduce a new acid slowly and listen to your skin!