Whilst visiting Avon's research center last week, I met Janice Teal, chief scientific officer and an Avon veteran of more than 20 years. I asked what she considered to be the biggest breakthrough in skincare during those decades. After a moment's thought, she replied, "glycolic".

A member of the alpha hydroxy acid (AHA) family, glycolic acid (derived from sugar cane) reacts with the upper layer of the epidermis, weakening the binding properties of the lipids that hold the dead skin cells together. This allows the outer skin to “dissolve” revealing the underlying skin. I find that after a couple of years of using (mostly IMAGE Skincare's Ageless) four or five times a week on my face, twice a week is now enough. I am using a glycolic - a new find from Lexli - daily on my neck and assume that at some point I'll be able to rein that back. Looking for cheaper alternatives to IMAGE, I have found Reviva's 5% Glycolic and a slightly stronger one by Kiss My Face. For really stubborn areas, such a heels and elbows, reach for Glytone with nearly 30% glycolic.

Ingredients in IMAGE Skincare Ageless Serum:

Water, aloe barbendensis leaf extract, lactic acid, glycolic acid, sodium hyaluronate, algae extract, artemesia vulgaris, polysorbate 20, hydroxyethylcellulose, phospholipids, cucumber, arnica montana, yeast (faex) extract, chamomile, grape seed, spearmint oil, eucalyptus leaf oil, disodium EDTA, malic acid

Ingredients in Reviva Glycolic Acid Renaissance Cream:

Purified water, 5% glycolic acid polymer (extracts of sugar and rhubarb), extracts of pumpkin, peach, sage, comfrey, chamomile, witch hazel, vitamins A, D, E, safflower oil, sunflower oil

Ingredients in Lexli glycolic exfolliant with aloe vera:

Aloe Barbadensis, Purified Water, Jojoba Esters, Vitamin C, Tridecyl Stearate, Neopentyl Glycol Dicaprylate/Dicaprate, Tridecyl Trimellitate, Glycolic Acid,Cetearyl Alcohol, Polysorbate, Butylene Glycol, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Green Tea Leaf Extract, Ceteareth-20, Vitamin E, Salicylic Acid, Vitamin A, Vitamin D3, Magnesium Aluminum Silicate, Jojoba Oil, Glycerin, Allantoin, Panthenol, Cetyl Alcohol, Octyl Palmitate, Glycereth, Dimethicone, Urea, Xanthan Gum, BHT, Sodium Metabisulfite, Tetrasodium EDTA, Diazolidinyl Urea, Methylparaben, Propylparaben

Ingredients in Glytone Ultra Heel and Elbow Cream:

Water, Glycolic Acid, Cetearyl Alcohol, Stearic Acid, Mineral Oil, Glycerin, Peg-40 Stearate, Tocopheryl Acetate (Vitamin E), Magnesium Aluminum Silicate, Potassium Hydroxide, BHT, Methylparaben, Propylparaben

Ingredients in Kiss My Face Peaches & Creme Moisturizer:

Water Purified, Mixed Fruit Extracts of Lactic Acid, Glycolic Acid, Citric Acid, Malic Acid, Tartaric Acid, Isopropyl Palmitate (Coconut Derived Emollient), Emulsifying Wax (Coconut Derived Emulsifier), Stearic Acid, Glyceryl Stearate (Vegetable Derived Emulsifier), Coco Caprylate/Caprate (Coconut Derived Emollient), Glycerin (Vegetable Emollient), Safflower Oil, Sunflower Seed Oil, Jojoba Oil, Sweet Almond Oil, Olive Oil, Soy Bean Oil, Shea Butter, Squalane (Olive Oil Derived Moisturizer), Aloe Vera Gel, Retinyl Palmitate (Vitamin A), Tocopheryl Acetate (Vitamin E), Allantoin, Lecithin, Peach Leaf Extract, Lemongrass Extract, Orange Blossom Extract, Sugar Cane Extract, Citrus Pectin Extract, Grapefruit Seed Extract, Fragrance, Methylparaben, Propylparaben, Sodium Hydroxymethylglycinate (Vegetable Derived Preservative)