THE IN-TRAY

Glycolic acid: the glow-boosting gamechanger your skin (and scalp) needs

WHEN IT COMES TO TRANSFORMATIVE INGREDIENTS, GLYCOLIC IS SUPERSONIC. AND THERE’S NEVER BEEN A BETTER TIME TO EMBRACE THIS EXFOLIATING WONDER.

Everyone wants the next big thing in skincare, but sometimes it’s the existing big thing that you might be missing. Take glycolic acid; an alpha-hydroxy acid (AHA), it has been relied on for decades for its exfoliating abilities – but you may not be aware how much this quiet achiever can do.

GLYCOLIC ACID IN HAIRCARE

It’s probably most well-known for its ability to refine pores, target acne and fade discolouration — but, glycolic is also a popular ingredient in haircare. It can smooth and soften your strands by penetrating the hair shaft, rendering hair more manageable. The Malin+Goetz Detox Scalp Mask contains glycolic acid (along with salicylic and lactic acid) to help remove dead skin cells and product build-up, while rebalancing the skin on the scalp. Sunday Riley’s Clean Rinse Clarifying Scalp Serum offers glycolic exfoliation as well as niacinamide, which helps promote hair growth, and rose clay to draw out impurities from the scalp. Drunk Elephant’s T.L.C Happi Scalp™ Scrub combines chemical exfoliators with plant oils including marula, mongongo, baobab and maracuja and quick-absorbing amino acids to keep the scalp nourished, flake-free and balanced.

GLYCOLIC ACID AS AN OVERNIGHT TREATMENT

Refine and resurface your skin while you slumber. Drunk Elephant’s T.L.C. Framboos™ Glycolic Night Serum works in a very similar way to the T .L.C. Happi Scalp™ Scrub, using a blend of AHAs and soothing plant extracts to gently lift away dead skin cells. It has a pH of 3.8, which is important; if the pH of the acid is too low, it will sting – too high, and it won’t be effective. Similarly, a few precious drops of Omorovicza Acid Fix will remedy lacklustre complexions. Glow Recipe’s Watermelon Glow Sleeping Mask is another nighttime rescue. It combines glycolic and lactic acid with amino-rich watermelon extract and moisture-boosting hyaluronic acid in a bouncy texture. If you’re using retinol in the evening, try subbing in a glycolic product on a different night.

TRY A WEEKLY 10-MINUTE GLYCOLIC ACID MASK

If you’re commitment phobic about acids, experiment with a mask. REN Clean Skincare Glycol Lactic Radiance Renewal Mask uses a trio of tropical acids — glycolic from pineapple, lactic from passionfruit and papain from papaya — to invigorate your skin. If you prefer detoxifying mud formulas, GlamGlow’s Supermud addresses skin imperfections with a mix of six acids, activated charcoal and clay.

HOW TO CLEANSE, TONE AND MOISTURISE WITH GLYCOLIC

Exfoliating cleansers allow you to wash away oil, debris and dead skin cells in a cushiony lather. A glycolic favourite is Kate Somerville’s ExfoliKate Cleanser, and ExfoliKate Glow Moisturizer. If you prefer your re-surfacer wrapped in a nourishing medley of hibiscus, grapefruit and rosewater, you will adore Chantecaille’s Bamboo and Hibiscus Exfoliating Cream. Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare’s Alpha Beta range has won legions of fans – try the Pore Perfecting Moisturizer. Meanwhile, Mario Badescu’s Glycolic Foaming Cleanser is recommended as a supplementary purifier. Use it one to three times a week when your skin needs a clean sweep. You can also use it to fix body breakouts. The brand also has a glycolic-fuelled Toner to brighten and balance skin post-cleanse.

Want to know more about exfoliating? Let’s break down chemical vs. physical exfoliation.

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