Dermaquest Skin Therapy Glyco Creamy Cleanser Age Management ($33, 8 fl. oz.).

Yes, there are a few ingredients to dislike in this formula. But I can't help it. I like what I'm seeing in the mirror. And despite the transient, tingling pain that this 15% glycolic acid formula brings about (about the highest you can get for an at-home treatment), I find it endurable and without any after-irritation... even for my sensitive skin.

Most impressive for me is the miraculous smoothing and dissolving of the congested pores around my chin. But that's not all it does.

In addition to being deeply cleansing and exfoliating, topical application of glycolic acid (GA) has been shown to be an effective anti-ager: reversing sun damage (such as mottled pigmentation), stimulating collagen & elastin production, quickening cell turnover, increasing skin's thickness & firmness, and smoothing rough and wrinkled skin. (For more, check out "What is it? Glycolic acid.")

Dermaquest ups the AHA ante by including lactic acid (LA) high up on the list. Unlike GA, LA's forte is more about anti-dryness than anti-aging, but it makes sense here because aged skin is per usual dry skin. And please remember, as is the case with all AHAs, it's necessary to practice good sun protection measures (such as applying sunscreen daily) since these ingredients up your skin's photosensitizing activity.

Unfortunately, there are some potential irritants in this formula that may cause trouble for your skin. I, for one, have not experienced anything, however. Still, I think it's important that I point these out:

ammonium hydroxide. Ammonium hydroxide is a common Ph balancer in skin peels that can cause irritation to the eyes and mucous membranes. What's more, even at diluted concentrations it has been shown to be highly toxic to aquatic animals, and for this reason is classified as dangerous to the environment.

phenoxyethanol and caprylyl glycol. Regular readers at TIA know how we feel about the preservative phenoxyethanol. According to the FDA, it can depress the central nervous system and may cause vomiting and diarrhea.” However, we must admit that preservatives such as this (and caprylyl glycol) may be a necessary evil, a needed presence to keep other nasties at bay.

PEG-60 almond glycerides. Like with most PEGs, which enhance a formula's skin penetration effects, the main concerns really are about contamination. According to a report in the International Journal of Toxicology by the Cosmetic Ingredient Review (CIR) committee, impurities found in various PEG compounds include ethylene oxide; 1,4-dioxane; polycyclic aromatic compounds; and heavy metals such as lead, iron, cobalt, nickel, cadmium, and arsenic. Many of these impurities are linked to cancer.

However, responsible manufacturers do make efforts to remove these impurities, however. So just make sure that your PEGs are coming from a respected brand.

Dermaquest does make amends to any possible assaults on your skin by adding a bevy of soothing ingredients to its lineup. To begin with, there's DI-PPG-2-myreth-10-adipate, or, DMA, which has been shown to reduce irritation and inflammation caused by cosmetic products.

On a less synthetic note, there's also saponaria officinalis extract, of which research shows it to have good antiviral and antibacterial properties; and then there's plantago lanceolata leaf extract, aka the English plantain, which contains a natural, healing epidermal growth factor plus astringing qualities.

I don't know if that's enough good to balance out the bad, but I must say that I'm going to continue using it.  I just like the way it makes my skin look and feel, and I reckon you would as well.  Tis a pity I can't give it a full recommendation though, there's just too many nasties in here.


Water (aqua), glycolic acid, sorbitol, cetyl alcohol, stearyl alcohol, ammonium laureth sulfate, latic acid, ammonuim hydroxide, caprylyl glycol, saponaria officinalis extract, quillaja saponaria bark extract, camellia sinensis (green tea) leaf extract, plantago lanceolata leaf extract, PEG-7 glyceryl cocoate, phenoxyethanol, Di-PPG-2-myreth-10-adipate, PEG-60 almond glycerides, lavendula angustifolia (lavender) floral water.