Dr. Oz has spoken. Alpha hydroxy acids and, in particular polyhydroxy acid, are powerful wrinkle treatments and skin lighteners. Make a note of names to look out for: D gluconic acid is a polyhydroxy acid also known as gluconolactone. Polyhydroxy acids are purported to be the next generation of AHAs. What excites me is the claim that, unlike AHAs, PHAs do not increase sensitivity to the sun, they are also powerful antioxidants that protect cell lipids and membranes from UV damage. I first came across polyhydroxy acids in a so-so product called Exuvience Age Reverse. Since then I have found more and better. Here are my Five Best with the power AHA, polyhydroxy acid.

  • Osmosis Polish Enzyme/Firming Mask

    Osmosis Polish Enzyme/Firming Mask ($44). Per Osmosis, our new best friend PHA is “a chelating agent in that it binds the copper that activates the Tyrosinase enzyme, and also provides protection from UV damage.” In this mask there is another AHA, lactic acid. Plus antioxidant cranberry and beet. A very mild enzyme mask that will keep dull skin at bay while the scent will make you feel pampered. According to our reviewer, Dennis, there was no stinging or burning to get the nicely “polished” result.
  • Arcona Mandarin Brightening Peel

    Arcona Mandarin Brightening Peel ($78) will give your skin a wake-up call. It doesn’t cause the skin to actually peel, but it does exfoliate and regular weekly use for the past couple of months has faded freckles and softened coarse-looking skin. With skin-lightening ingredients such as Sepiwhite, Mandarin Peel is part of my arsenal of dark spot treatments. glycolic acid, lactic acid and gluconic acid. They make this mask pretty intense, but I nevertheless found that Mandarin Brightening Peel was never too tingly for the sensitive skin on my face, but perfect for my neck.
  • Tilth Beauty A Flawless Serum

    Tilth Beauty A Flawless Serum ($62). With retinol, along with gluconolactone (polyhydroxy acid), Tilth’s serum pleasantly surprises even those more used to prescription retin-A. Our reviewer, Becky, noted increased brightness and clarity of her skin after only two weeks of nightly use. The time-released retinol ensures the formula is gentle and, as always, Tilth’s ingredients err on the natural.
  • Skinfinite Peptide Repair Serum

    Skinfinite Peptide Repair Serum ($69 in the shop). I found this to be packed with many of the cutting-edge antioxidants and growth factors of more expensive products. As well as gluconolactone (polyhydroxy acid), there’s a moisture-binding peptide derived from rice and rH‐Oligopeptide‐1, with as many as 53 amino acids to stimulate cell growth to repair wrinkles. I particularly like thioctic (R‐lipoic) acid and wonder why we don’t see more of it. It seems to do lots of useful things such as helping to recycle other antioxidants, containing free radicals and serving as an anti-inflammatory.
  • PureCeuticals Grape Seed Hydrating Crème

    PureCeuticals Grape Seed Hydrating Crème ($54). This moisturizer had me at hello with its pretty coral color, unobtrusively grapey scent and light, almost whipped texture. Gluconolactone is in this case is derived from sugar. As I wrote in my review, it is a great ingredient that is water attracting, a free-radical scavenger, protector from UV rays, and may even improve rosacea-prone skin. As you would expect, Grape Seed Hydrating Crème has antioxidant grape skin extract, boosted by licorice, raspberry and spinach extracts.