It's time to wise up on your acids...
Exfoliating acids like glycolic acid have surged in popularity in the last few years; you may have heard some of the hype but aren’t quite sure what it’s all about. Luckily for you, we’re well acquainted with skincare acids.
While BHAs like salicylic acid penetrate deep into your pores to unclog them, AHA glycolic acid’s structure means that it only works on the surface layers of your skin.
The reason it’s such a wonder ingredient is that it can break down the bonds that hold dead skin cells together as well as helping to dissolve sebum, the oil naturally produced by your skin. This means its a great addition to your routine
Intrigued? Read on for the best glycolic acid products that team Marie Claire swears by and remember: Glycolic acid can increase skin’s sensitivity, so during the day always use one of the best SPF moisturisers with a factor of at least 30.
Glycolic acid peels
Max-strength peels are performed by a professional, but you can buy some less powerful (and less expensive), 15-minute treatments that you can do in the comfort of your own home.
These usually contain an active ingredient of glycolic or lactic acid, or combination of several usually around the 10% mark. Try Lancer’s Caviar Lime Acid Peel, which also contains retinol for an anti-ageing boost, or Superdrug Naturally Radiant Glycolic Overnight Peel for a lower price point.
These usually cause a slight stinging or warming sensation on the face, so don’t be alarmed that you’re having a bad reaction if your face starts to tingle or if there’s some redness after using.
Glycolic acid toners
AHA toners leave your skin brighter and fresher looking as they slough off pore-blocking dead skin cells from the surface. If you choose to use one in the morning rather than at night time, remember to always follow up with a high SPF, as the freshly-revealed skin underneath will be especially sensitive. Dr Dennis Gross’ Alpha Beta Universal Daily Peel are pre-soaked pads for gentle exfoliation on a daily basis.
Glycolic acid solutions are a good starting place if you’re using AHAs for the first time, as you can introduce them to your skin gradually. Start with once a week with a 5% exfoliant (less if your skin is particularly sensitive), then build your way up to as much as every evening if you feel necessary.
Read on for the Marie Claire edit of the most effective glycolic acid products we always keep in our bathroom cabinets.
This wonder peel contains five different types of AHAs and BHAs to reveal radiance and smooth the complexion on the daily. The treatment comes in two parts: The exfoliating first step, followed by an anti-ageing neutraliser. Worried about sensitivity? There's a more gentle option on offer, as well as a more intensive version for seasoned skincare acid pros.
Possibly the most popular liquid exfoliant on the market, Liquid Gold has earnt itself cult status. As well as glycolic acid, it also contains licorice, a great anti-inflammatory agent. It definitely tingles upon application so you can feel it working, but skin feels soft afterwards.
A fruity concoction for your skin, this fast-acting mask works to slough away dead skin cells and reveal radiant skin underneath. It's a bit like slathering lemon curd all over your face - just, you know, far better for your skin.
Suitable for both morning and evening cleanses, this fruity cleanser contains pumpkin, papaya and pineapple for a glycolic and lactic wash. It's super creamy, foaming very slightly for a really satisfying clean; we found that skin'x texture looked better after just one use.
This citrus mask is great for an instant hit of radiance when you're looking for a pre-party quick fix. Very tingly at first, it dies down as the leaves your skin with that soft, fresh, baby face feeling.
Glow Tonic is one of the most recognisable glycolic exfoliating toners on the market, a gentle formula containing no oil. It's alcohol free, meaning those with sensitive skin tend to get on well with it too.