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Whether you are 30 or 60, glycolic acid will boost the complexion, help even out skin tone, close pores and stimulate cell renewal. Glycolic acid reacts with the upper layer of the epidermis, weakening the binding properties of the lipids that hold the dead skin cells together. Glycolic usually comes from sugar cane and is an AHA (alpha hydroxy acids) and others with similar actions are malic acid (from apples), lactic acid, citric and mandelic (almonds). This 2012 round-up of the Five Best with hydroxy acids, includes picks for sensitive skins as well as for those that want results. After some agonizing, I decided that Skin-Lasting Super Hydrator didn’t quite qualify, but it deserves an honorable mention for its lactic acid and keen pricing, as does drugstore stalwart AmLactin. Here are the ones that made it:
Skinfinite’s Purify Facial Cleanse ($30 for 6fl oz in the TIA shop). This is a new find and I have come to like it more and more since I reviewed it in April. It is very effective without being harsh and it is coming into its own as the weather gets warmer. The hydroxy acids are lactic acid (an alpha hydroxyl acid) and salicylic acid (beta hydroxyl acid). They work in a complimentary fashion: alpha hydroxy acids are water soluble, beta hydroxy acids are lipid (oil) soluble. Alpha hydroxy acids loosen the glue-like substances that hold skin cells together, shedding the top layer of dull, damaged skin. BHAs also penetrate deep through the epidermis to exfoliate the dead skin cells and excess oil built up in the pores. Plus, there’s lactic acid from yoghurt. Read my full review.
La Vie Celeste’s Restorative Exfoliating Gel Mask ($60 in the TIA shop). One of my all-time favorite products for refreshing the complexion and regular use will help with mild hyperpigmentation. With a 5% concentration of glycolic in a soothing base of organic aloe, this lovely mask is given a helping hand by exfoliating bamboo grains, licorice and bearberry extract (this is loaded with alpha arbutin a natural – and safer – hydroquinone). Organically sourced antioxidants include white tea (supposedly better than green tea) and melon. Gentle, but more effective than other 5% glycolic formulations that I have tried. Read the full review.
Luximyl GlycoPeel 20 Rapid Exfoliation Lotion ($60). 20 stands for 20% and this is good for targeting age spots. GlycoPeel is designed to be used with Lumixyl’s Topical Brightening Crème. However, it is a very good exfoliant even used solo. Based on glycolic, malic, lactic and citric acids, GlycoPeel 20 is reinforced with useful antioxidants including green tea, wheat, algae, yeast, comfrey root (which can speed up the replacement of skin cells as well as providing some protection against the sun) and plantain, a very good source of vitamins A and C and with a reputation for soothing irritated skin. There are several other good things, ultimately far outweighing the bad (propylene glycol, and phenoxyethanol). I’ve been using it on my knees, which (trust me) need the help and results are fantastic. Read the full review of GlycoPeel.
Juice Beauty Green Apple Peel ($39) A popular product with the Truth In Aging community. The full strength version is a bit too strong for my face, but it is a great exfoliator for the sun-damaged skin on my neck and I appreciate the refreshing apple scent and the mostly organic ingredients (with nothing to dislike apart from phenoxyethanol and sodium hydroxide). There is also a “sensitive” version. The glycolic comes from organic cane sugar and the other hydroxy acids are from apple, lemon, grape and milk.
Lather 10-Minute Brightening Mask ($28 in the TIA shop). Good at brightening and smoothing fine lines. Niacinamide is the first ingredient to be listed. Niacinimide is a derivative of Vitamin B3 that suppresses melanin from reaching the surface of the skin and protects the skin from further UV damage. Lactic and kojic acids are both brighteners that are rounded out by mulberry, which studies have shown to inhibit tyrosinase activity and bearberry, a natural source of alpha arbutin. Tolerated by sensitive skins. Read the full review.