As an alpha-hydroxy acid (AHA), glycolic acid is a skincare ingredient that’s invaluable for its exfoliating properties. The secret to its success is its size – the small molecule is able to penetrate the skin barrier, slough away dead skin from the surface, unclog pores, fade pigmentation and soften lines and wrinkles. But, like all great skincare ingredients, glycolic shouldn’t be left to languish in the bathroom cabinet to be pulled out for special occasions; rather, it should be used consistently throughout the year to maintain smoothness. Here are the best glycolic-acid products you need to know about now…
Best for year-round smooth skin: Amanda Harrington New Skin Advanced Glycolic Body Scrub
Amanda Harrington’s aptly named ‘New Skin’ body scrub helps to keep skin smooth, elbows soft and knees silky all year round with its mix of both chemical and physical exfoliation. The gritty bio-degradable castor beads smooth the surface of the skin, while the glycolic and fruit acids work to quicken skin cell turnover, resulting in smoother skin for longer. Massage into wet skin two or three times per week, and the day before applying a fake tan to ensure an even-color result.
Best for vacation: Noble Panacea The Brilliant Prime Radiance Serum
These handy sachets by Noble Panacea are invaluable for your travels. Each one contains the perfect amount of formula for one application, plus it utilizes glycolic acid and the retinol alternative bakuchiol to prompt collagen production while the skin is exfoliated. Apply one sachet to a clean face every evening and follow with a generous application of moisturizer.
Best for targeting crêpey textured skin: Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare Alpha Beta Head To Toe Glow Kit
There’s a reason that Dr. Dennis Gross’s daily facial peel earned cult-like status: it smooths uneven texture, reduces the appearance of pores, fine lines and UV-induced pigmentation. Now, those benefits can be felt from hairline to toes. This kit includes the excellent daily face peel as well as exfoliating towelettes for the body. Just wipe over limbs after showering and allow to dry before applying moisturizer. Make sure to pay particular attention to the décolleté, where skin can become crêpey, and even underarms, where follicles can become blocked.
Best for professional results at home: Glo Skin Beauty GlyPro AHA Resurfacing Peel Kit
Glo Skin’s kit is truly everything you need to gently but effectively resurface your skin. It includes a glycolic cleanser, liquid exfoliant, glycolic peel, neutralizer, retinol and all the paraphernalia you need, such as gauze, swabs, reusable cotton rounds and a mixing cup. If you have very sensitive skin, this isn’t the treatment for you, but for everyone else it helps to buff over uneven texture, lift pigmentation and soften lines. As a professional-grade treatment, some downtime should be expected, with redness and some peeling lasting around five days.
Best for overnight exfoliation: Révive Moisturizing Renewal Cream – Nightly Retexturizer
Some glycolic treatments are too aggressive to be used daily, but Révive’s overnight cream contains soothing shea, squalane and allantoin in addition to glycolic to help rein in sensitivity and rehydrate while targeting lines and discoloration. Apply a generous layer to cleansed skin each evening and be sure to follow with SPF come morning, as your skin may be more sensitive to UV rays.
Best for blemish-prone skin: Omorovicza Silver Skin Saviour Mask
A genius combination of salicylic acid (BHA), glycolic (AHA), colloidal silver (antibacterial) and niacinamide (strengthening) makes Omorovicza’s intensive 15-minute mask ideal for anyone with stressed and misbehaving skin. Apply to cleansed skin once a week or the evening before a special event to reduce redness and sensitivity.
Best for ingrowing hairs and clogged pores: Verso Body Peel
Combining glycolic acid with salicylic acid and hydrating gluconolactone, Verso’s twice-weekly body treatment helps to smooth texture and unclog pores that could otherwise lead to unsightly and uncomfortable ingrown hairs. We find it’s best to use during a shower: cleanse, pat skin dry and massage into skin. Don’t forget the backs of your arms, where keratosis pilaris is common. After two or three minutes, hop back under the spray and rinse. Follow with moisturizer.
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