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A frequently asked question is whether it is OK to use glycolic acid and other AHAs or retinol with a serum that has growth factors. For example, KI or Cellular Repair Serum by E’shee and Medik8 Growth Factor; or those with human conditioned media, such as ReLuma or AQ. Would those heavy-duty exfoliators interfere with the growth factor actives? The answer is yes, and more so than I originally surmised.
To get to the bottom of this question, I initially turned to Nataly Giter, the founder of E’shee and she explained to me that exfoliation is not just removing the dead skin layer (which is beneficial), but it also strips the protective layer of lipids from the surface. The skin will first replace the protective layer, and only then will it start producing new collagen and elastin.
This means it will take longer to see results from the growth factor serum. Given that they are on the pricier end of the serum spectrum, this is not a good thing, as taking longer to see results means using more product while becoming disappointed and frustrated.
We all love glycolic/AHA exfoliants, but they are best used in moderation. Some people are using a nightly mask with 10% glycolic concentration. It seems that if you want to preserve the protective lipids, it would be better to cut this kind of thing back to once – or twice a week, at most.
So if you are introducing growth factors into your beauty routine, the advice seems to be to wean yourself off the glycolics and retinols. It is easy to get addicted to them because they seem to instantly resurface the skin, but if you allow the growth factors to do their thing, your skin’s condition will improve due to collagen production. Certainly, my experience of using growth factor serums for the past couple of years is that they have rendered heavy-duty exfoliation almost unnecessary.