If you're wanting to make a visible difference to the tone and texture of your skin, look no further than AHAs and BHAs.
- An alpha hydroxy acid (AHA) is best suited for those whose main concern is dark spots and sun damage, since it exfoliates the skin's upper most layers.
- A beta hydroxy acid (BHA) is best for treating acne and blackheads since it is able to dissolve the oil that clogs pores. You could even layer the two ingredients at the same time for maximal benefits.
Glycolic acid is an alpha hydroxy acid (AHA) naturally derived from sugar cane. This chemical exfoliant has the ability to remove dead skin cells to reveal brighter, fresher skin, without scratching at the surface.
Glycolic acid is the most common exfoliant for a chemical peel, though there are other options for those with very sensitive skin. When I had my peel at Miracle 10 (documented here) they used a 20% Lactic Acid, and thanks to the great results I've been using their daily lactic acid cream ever since.
Since my skin is a bit too sensitive for the fierceness of glycolic products, I have asked for the help of my wonderful mother to give her unbiased review of three popular products currently on the market.
Note that with use of any AHA product, you must wear sunscreen outdoors since your refreshed skin will burn much faster.
Paula's Choice Skin Perfecting Gel 8% Glycolic Acid
- Lightweight gel spreads well
- 100ml is only $28 usd, or $40 cad
- Dispenses an appropriate amount through the pump
- Requires an added moisturizer over the top
- No SPF
- I find that it doesn't get absorbed quickly
- SPF 30 does an excellent job at keeping your skin safe from sun exposure
- Pump dispenser allows for an appropriate amount of cream
- Glides nicely over skin and is readily absorbed
- Pricy at $45 cad for 50ml
- There's a little tingling if you have any sensitivity or irritated areas
NeoStrata Glycolic Renewal Smoothing Cream 5% Glycolic Acid
- Very hydrating, great for dry skin
- A nice base for under makeup
- Can be found at any local Shoppers Drug Mart
- The thicker texture means more cream is necessary to cover the entire face
- The squeeze tube was hard to use, but this is only a sample size (full-size is a pump also)
Each of these products is very unique, and has its own strengths - lightweight gel, SPF for daytime, and extra hydrating for dry skin. It's never too late to start incorporating more advanced ingredients into your skincare routine, especially for anyone concerned about fine lines and age spots.
After many weeks of testing, my mom noticed minor improvements in her skin's appearance, and will continue to use products containing glycolic acid. Though I can't promise that you'll wake up all of a sudden to spotless porcelain skin, these products aim to preserve that youthful glow for years to come.