The Red Crib Sheet: Acids
WHAT ARE THEY?
Less intimidating than they sound, exfoliating acids are suddenly in every beauty range and called ‘liquid exfoliants’, ‘toners’, ‘tonics’, ‘resurfacers’ and ‘peel pads’. They work by breaking down the bonds between dead skin cells, loosening them so they flake off. Those you’ll often spot on labels are glycolic and lactic, aka alpha hydroxy acids.
WHY USE THEM?
Acids can deliver smoother and brighter skin. With regular use you should find that superficial pigmentation from sun damage starts to fade and pores look a bit tighter. Plus, if you don’t have a layer of dead skin cells, anything you put on top will be more effective. Glycolic acid can boost cell renewal, while lactic acid helps with hydration. If you have breakouts, try salicylic acid – it’s oil-soluble, so it can penetrate into the pores to unclog them.
WHO SHOULD USE THEM?
Most of us can benefit – who doesn’t want glowy skin? Newbies and those with sensitive skin will want to take it slowly. A mild tingle is normal, though less likely if you have oily skin or are a seasoned user. Full-on redness and irritation is not good. If glycolic acid alone feels too strong, try it in a combination of acids or steer away and go for the gentler lactic, mandelic or polyhydroxy acids as they don’t penetrate as deeply.
HOW SHOULD YOU USE THEM?
We like liquid exfoliants and pre-saturated peel pads as they are quick and easy to use. Cleanse, then use the liquid (on cottonwool) or pad as you would a toner. Ensure there’s no oil left on your skin as the acid will be less efficient. Moisturise afterwards. Most can be used daily, though build up from once or twice a week if you haven’t used an acid before or have sensitive skin. You can also try using a gentle scrub afterwards for extra smoothness. Every two weeks is enough – or use a muslin cloth as often as you like – but be gentle.
WHEN SHOULD YOU USE THEM?
WHAT ELSE DO YOU NEED TO KNOW?
Some, though not all products, list the percentage of acids in the formulation, which will naturally make you wonder if higher is better (most come in between 4% and 10%, though there are higher). But, it’s the formulation and pH levels that really count to achieve the benefits while minimising irritation. Unless you have a chemistry degree and pH checker handy, our advice is to vote with your feet. If you don’t like or see results, move on to another brand.
WHAT TO BUY:
1. ,£10. A cult buy at a great price
2. , £22.49. The pads have extra exfoliating action
3. , £73.50. Good for sensitive skin
4. ,£28. Best for congested skin
5. , £33.50. Loved by beauty insiders