Beauty Features

LET’S TALK GOOD SKINCARE PRACTICES – PART V: ACID EXFOLIATORS

Let’s Talk About Acids, Baby!

We touched a little on the subject of acids when we talked about toners earlier in this series. Depending on skin type and needs, you can use a gentle acid product to exfoliate and smooth skin daily. But because there are different types and strengths for different needs, and some, especially if you’re new to acid exfoliation (as opposed to manual exfoliation, where you use an exfoliator with grain or a grainy like texture – and we’ll mention some of those here too – these are fluid like textures for the most part, some are even creamy or serum like) you need to tread very lightly with and start by using only a couple of days a week, sometimes only once will suffice, and increase usage, depending on your skins’ needs, type and tolerance.

So unlike a traditional manual exfoliator which you really shouldn’t use more than once or twice a week, some of these acids you can use daily. And a bit like what we said when talking about Retinoids (in our serums feature), your skin will go through an adjustment period where it might look a bit worse before it clears and gets so much better, smoother and healthier looking. Also, the reason we are talking about acids now, even though as a skincare step they’d be applied after your cleanser and before your hydrating mist toner and serum, is because they are (for most people, especially beginners) a “some days a week” step, rather than an “everyday” step, especially depending on what your skin’s needs are, and your skin’s age. And because the formulas vary also, some will came as a toner, others a serum and others a formula you’ll need to rinse off (especially if you’re just getting started and getting your skin used to it), they will be an occasional step you’ll insert into your routine a few times a week but not necessarily daily.

So follow me here, routine will be cleanse (double at night), acid exfoliator (1 to 3 times a week depending on your skin, if you’re an old seasoned pro at this and depending on the acid you’re using it can be daily), hydrating toner/mist, eye cream/treatment, serum/oil, moisturiser and in the AM, SPF. And as a special treat/pamper moment, an occasional face mask. The acids are divided into AHA’s (Alpha Hydroxy Acids), which are your most commonly used and include lactic, glycolic, citric, and the slightly less known mandelic, tartaric and and malic. AHA’s are water soluble and don’t penetrate too deeply into the skin. Glycolic, usually derived from sugarcane or sugarbeet, however, has the smallest molecule of all the AHA’s thus making it able to penetrate a bit deeper than the others, making it more effective to stimulate collagen production. It exfoliates by increasing cell turnover, helping even out skin tone, and because it stimulates collagen production it helps to support the structure of the dermis, reducing signs of skin ageing. All AHA’s exfoliate and stimulate collagen and are best for skin showing signs of ageing. Also, lactic is particularly good for drier and dehydrated skin types, as it exfoliates by gently dissolving the bonds (think of it as a kind of glue) that hold dead skin cells to the surface, keeping skin soft. Originally derived from milk, lactic acid is now mostly synthesized, for higher stability.

Citric is not so often used but when it is it will mostly help reverse signs of sun damage and is mostly derived from citrus fruits. Malic and tartaric acids, which are both mostly derived from fruits like apples, pears, grapes or berries, are gentler than the other AHA’s and have added antioxidant and skin oxygenation properties. They are usually used in conjunction or added in with the other acids to create a more complete formula. And lastly mandelic acid, which is derived from almonds and is more oil soluble than the other AHA’s, making it ideal for oilier, acne-prone skin, as the molecules can penetrate deeper without being harsh and drying skin out, and it’s also antibacterial. The other division of acids are BHA’s (Beta Hydroxy Acids) which is basically a group of one, as only salicylic acid is a BHA, and this is particularly good for oilier skin types or skins prone to acne, breakouts and blemishes as well as blackheads. Salicylic is mostly derived from Willow Bark or synthesized and is oil-soluble so it can penetrate deeper into oilier skins and dissolve the bond between dead skin cells that can clog pores, resulting in gentle exfoliation and cleaner pores. And the last group is PHA’s (Poly Hydroxy Acids), which are like AHA’s on weed, just as highly effective, but much more mellow on the skin. This next generation of AHA’s is softer, gentler and less irritating.

More multitasking than most, these are ideal for more sensitive skin types, as they allow for a slower, more gradual penetration and as stated are non-irritating on skin. Skin that is dehydrated and showing signs of ageing will also prefer these as they help restore the skin’s barrier function and support against loss of collagen. The more commonly used PHA’s are lactobionic, maltobionic, gluconolactone and galactose. Always remember to apply your SPF if you’re using your acids in the morning, especially after glycolic, as this will make your skin a bit more sun sensitive. When using acids (or any kind of exfoliators), even if they’re formulated for sensitive skin, start by using only once a week and gradually increase usage over time until you find the point your skin is comfortable with. If that happens to be just once a week, keep it that way, if it’s everyday, that’s fine too. You don’t need to use it more just because you think you have to. Listen to what your skin is telling you with its reactions. And remember not to use in the same application as your retinoids. Alternate application, say, on different days or use acid in the AM and retinol in the PM.

Sensitive Skin

Sensitivity isn’t a skin type per se, it’s more of a skin condition that can be triggered by lifestyle or it can be genetic. Sensitive skin is “defined” by a depleted protective layer (which is what gives skin it’s barrier function that protects skin from external aggressions). So if your skin usually reacts badly to products or harsh weather conditions and gets inflamed, red, blotchy and/or itchy (this is called dermatitis), then you need to treat it as sensitive skin as it is likely it will continually react that same way. (There are many other skin conditions out there, such as dehydration, acne, rosacea, etc. These are usually – hopefully – temporary and caused by external factors like lifestyle, but some, such as eczema or psoriasis, can be triggered by illness or genetic factors, and harder to tackle and usually require some medical attention.) All skin types can suffer from sensitivity, although drier skins are usually more prone to it due to the skin’s protective barrier being depleted. 

SVR Sebiaclear Micro-Peel, RRP £15.00 for 150ml

Formulated to help combat acne on adult, sensitised skin, this essence is packed with active ingredients that treat, hydrate and reveal smooth, clear skin. A minimal formula with only 8 ingredients of 90% natural origin, this is an effective yet gentle combination of Lactobionic Acid, an effective, yet gentle, non-photosensitive PHA, Salicylic Acid (a BHA) to exfoliate and smooth skin, reducing imperfections and scarring marks, 4% Niacinamide (vitamin B3) to soothe and reduce inflammation, helping to eliminate blemishes and breakouts and 1% Zinc to deeply purify, unclog pores by lifting away excess sebum and tightens them for a smoother skin texture. To apply you can either gently swipe it across your face and neck or pat it in on cleansed skin then follow with your remaining skincare routine. Just positively fabulous for sensitive skin, with a gorgeously subtle fresh scent!

Available at uk.labo-svr.com, lookfantastic.com, feelunique.com and beautyexpert.com

Algenist Blue Algae Vitamin C™ Dark Spot Correcting Peel, RRP £80.00 for 45ml

Formulated with a unique blend of their Triple-Acid Complex™, a combination of resurfacing and exfoliating acids that enhance spot reducing effects at various layers of the skin; AHAs help speed up surface exfoliation to reduce fine lines, dark spots, blemishes and imperfections, BHA encourages deeper exfoliation to reduce the look of pores, and PHA gently targets pigmentation irregularities and uneven texture, exclusive Blue Algae Vitamin C, a 100% pure L-Ascorbic Acid from Spirulina that provides powerful brightening, spot-diminishing and antioxidant benefits, proven safe and effective, vegan, renewable, naturally-sourced and sustainably-produced, patented Alguronic Acid which improves the look of wrinkles, promoting hydration and fighting environmental agressions that cause signs of ageing and Blue Phycocyanin, a natural blue pigment and potent antioxidant from Spirulina. Slightly tingling and cooling, it feels a bit like soft honey on the skin, without the stickiness and the natural scent of Blue Tansy and Lavender Oil is just gorgeously relaxing. Apply on clean, damp skin, using 4 to 6 pumps for the face and 1 additional pump for the chest area. Leave on for 20 minutes (maximum, if you’re unsure how your skin will react, start with 5 to 10 mins and gradually increase the time until you can comfortably reach the advised 20 mins), rinse thoroughly with lukewarm water and pat dry. Use 1 to 2 times a week. Always follow with SPF during the day. Particularly good for anyone concerned with hyperpigmentation.

Available at Cult Beauty, SpaceNK.com and Lookfantastic.com

Gallinée Face Vinegar, RRP £23.00 for 200ml

Ideal for sensitive and oily skin, specially formulated to purify and tone without stripping the skin. After cleansing away any bad bacteria, it works by eliminating dead skin cells and allowing for the better absorption of good bacteria and other ingredients in the rest of your skincare routine. This contains Actibiome, a novel prebiotic that works to calm stressed skin and prevent it from further irritations alongside gentle postbiotic acids that allow the skin’s beneficial bacteria to flourish. The second active ingredient is the Hibiscus-infused Apple Cider Vinegar. This toning ingredient improves skin in three distinct ways, by exfoliating and soothing and with its astringent properties. With Lactic Acid, one of the gentlest AHAs, which helps the skin to stay at its optimal pH level and has hydrating and softening properties. Used in a slow-releasing form to suit sensitive skin.The Algae Prebiotics extracted from green and brown algae, sea water and marine polysaccharides act against signs of stress on the skin. With added Prebiotics, a mix of ultra-gentle fibres and sugars that feed the skin’s good bacteria and help support the skin’s barrier, with an antibacterial action against bad ones. Designed to be used morning and evening. Apply a few drops onto a reusable cotton pad or directly onto your fingers, and swipe or pat across cleansed skin, avoiding the eye area. Follow with your usual routine.

Available at gallinee.com, lookfantastic.com, Cult Beauty, Beauty Bay and other selected retailers

Omorovicza Copper Peel, RRP £99.00 for a set of 16x8ml (8x Blue Copper Paste & 8x Lactic Acid Activator)

A gorgeously unique two-phase peel which combines a soothing Blue Copper paste and a buffing Lactic Acid activator to polish and smooth skin and minimise the appearance of enlarged pores and control sebum levels for a brighter, more even complexion. Enriched with Hungarian Thermal Water, Ferment Extract and Athemis Nobilis, for their soothing and anti-irritant properties, Apple Extract to help smooth skin and for its antioxidant properties and Glycerine and Squalane to help maintain hydration. To use follow the following steps: 1 – Apply the Copper Peel paste to the entire face, from forehead to neck. Avoid contact with eyes and lips. 2 – Apply the Copper Peel activator onto the Copper Peel paste and gently massage the resulting white lather, using circular motions, for two minutes, then rinse thoroughly. Each tube contains enough product for two or three applications. To seal the tubes, reverse the end piece (that breaks off when opening) and use it as a stopper. Since suggested usage is once per week, this lasts quite a bit of time (using 1 third once a week, it will last you up to 24 weeks). And honestly, you don’t really need that much product, so it really will last.

Available at Omorovicza, Cult Beauty, SpaceNK, lookfantastic.com and other selected retailers

Filorga Oxygen-Peel Re-Oxygenating Micro-Peeling Lotion, RRP £21.00 for 150ml

Formulated with a gentle yet powerful blend of PHAs, AHAs and BHAs, to help reveal a radiant complexion. This is a daily treatment that transforms the texture and appearance of skin for a visibly youthful look. Working to combat the effects of environmental stressors and fatigue, the ageing care face lotion uses powerhouse ingredient Hyaluronic Acid to restore moisture and plump the skin to reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. Bio-Active Oxygen Sensors stimulate the production of oxygen in cells, which refines pores and smooths the skin surface for a fresh, balanced complexion. Moisturising and exfoliating, this lotion brightens the complexion for skin that radiates health. This will rapidly become a staple in your skincare routine, as it will significantly improve the texture and look of your skin. Gentle enough to be used daily and also, it smells absolutely fabulous!

Available at Look Fantastic and feelunique.com

First Aid Beauty Facial Radiance Pads, from RRP £18.00 for 28 pads   

Using an exfoliating treatment pad which contains just the right amount of Lactic and Glycolic Acids will help you to achieve a clearer, more luminous complexion. If you have textured, dull looking skin, this is ideal. With regular use these pads will smooth the skin and provide a perfect canvas for flawless makeup application. Gently and effectively exfoliating these pads will tone and brighten all skin types, including even the most sensitive and those new to exfoliation. Ideal for beginners, start by using once a week and gradually increase usage (as previously stated). Apply by swiping the pads onto cheeks, chin, forehead, jawline and nose. Press the pads onto any congested areas for a more concentrated application. Like all other products I’ve tried from First Aid Beauty, this was a pleasant surprise. 

Available at lookfantastic.com, feelunique.com, ASOS and other selected retailers

Murad Vita-C Glycolic Brightening Serum, RRP £72.00 for 30ml

A serum formulated with Dr. Murad’s gold-stabilised (for more stable delivery into the skin) vitamin C which has a 55% higher antioxidant rate than traditional vitamin C products. Pollution and UV light can accelerate skin damage through oxidative (free radical) stress. Vitamin C is a potent antioxidant that supports healthier-looking skin and can help prevent visible skin damage like hyperpigmentation, dullness and uneven tone. Glycolic Acid rapidly resurfaces and removes dead, dulling surface cells to reveal more radiant skin, and clears the way for vitamin C to penetrate skin more effectively. Formulated without fragrance and artificial colours, it’s ideal for all skin tones and skin types, from oily to dry, and also for those who are sensitive. Massage it over cleansed face, neck and chest and follow with your usual routine. Use an SPF during the day. Much love for this brilliant combination of vitamin C and glycolic acid that delivers great results for brighter, smoother, more even looking skin.

Available at murad.co.uk, lookfantastic.com, Cult Beauty, SpaceNK and other selected retailers

Combination Skin

This is a mix of different skin types and quite possibly the most common skin type nowadays. Usually it’s defined by a slightly oilier or balanced T-zone (forehead, nose, chin) and drier or more dehydrated cheeks. 

Revolution Skincare Acid Peel for Combination Skin 5% Phytic Acid 1% Salicylic Acid, RRP £10.00 for 30ml

An acid solution for combination skin types. This effective acid solution combines one of the gentler AHAs, Phytic Acid at a 5% concentration, a naturally occurring acid that helps to break down dead skin cells that can lead to clogged pores and a dull complexion, with Salicylic Acid at 1%, a BHA that helps to clear dirt and sebum from the pores, resulting in a clearer, less congested complexion. This gorgeous and gentle solution is mild enough that you can use it daily, on cleansed skin and before your hydration mist, serum and moisturiser. One of my favourite discoveries when it comes to daily acids, the texture is a bit thicker than your usual serum but less so than a lotion and it retails at a fairly budget friendly price too.

Available at Beauty Bay

Malin & Goetz Resurfacing Glycolic Pads, RRP £44.00 for 50 pads

Made with 10% Glycolic Acid, these exfoliating pads help to smooth skin and minimise the appearance of pores. They also help smooth the appearance of fine lines for a gentle, at-home chemical peel. Glycolic Acid thoroughly exfoliates skin to help improve the appearance of pores, clarity and texture. Suitable for all skin types, including sensitive. They recommend you patch test before first use and build up frequency of use over time to allow skin to acclimate, and I totally second that, make sure you won’t have an adverse reaction. At night, smooth pad over clean, dry skin, avoiding eye and lip area. Leave on for 20 minutes, and then rinse with water to neutralize and follow with your usual routine. After 3 weeks of use, pending tolerance, treatment can be left on overnight. Use 1 to 3 times a week or as recommended by your dermatologist. Prior to sun exposure, cover areas where AHA’s have been applied with sunscreen. The following morning use SPF. I definitely recommend you follow the gradual usage instructions, as this is an intense treatment, especially for beginners, and you will definitely feel the tingle. If you have sensitive skin, you might find it best to contain usage to once a week.

Available at malinandgoetz.co.uk, SpaceNK, Cult Beauty and other selected retailers

Elemental Herbology Facial Glow AHA Radiance Polish, RRP £42.00 for 50ml

This double-action exfoliator mask uses gentle AHA’s and natural Jojoba Beads to exfoliate and brighten dull, lacklustre complexions. Use weekly to encourage cell renewal and achieve instantly softer and smoother skin. With AHA Fruit Acids derived from Apple, Papaya and Orange to help stimulate cell turnover for brighter skin. Kombuchka™ which is rich in probiotics and antioxidants to fortify the skin’s barrier and deliver a plumping effect and Sepitonic™, a multi blend of Zinc, Magnesium and Copper to encourage cell renewal. Apply to cleansed skin, leave for 2-3 minutes and then massage with your fingertips for optimum results, before removing with warm water and a muslin or washcloth. Follow with your usual routine.

Available on elementalherbology.com 

Kat Burki Restorative Dual Acid Peel, RRP £135.00 for 59ml

A dual purpose retexturising treatment that is a unique blend of 10% Glycolic Acid and 5% Botanical Hyaluronic Acid derived from the seeds of Cassia Angustifolia that reduces the signs of ageing by smoothing wrinkles and fine lines, noticeably improving the skin texture while Cold Processed Avocado Oil is included to soften, refresh and nourish the skin post peel.  The Glycolic and Salicylic Acids used create a powerful duo that reverses the damage done to the skin by sunlight. The skin looks brighter, more radiant, vibrant and healthier. It includes a soft brush to aid application.

Available at Kat Burki, SpaceNK and feelunique.com

Evolve Organic Beauty Liquid Radiance Glycolic Toner, RRP £20.00 for 100ml

This is an AHA/BHA liquid exfoliator designed to reveal instantly smoother and brighter skin, which helps to boost exfoliation, reduce irritation and dryness and improve skin texture. The super gentle formula is 100% natural and perfect for even sensitive skin types. Blending fruit AHAs including Glycolic Acid from Sugar Cane, Malic Acid from Apples and Citric Acid from Citrus Fruits to help boost exfoliation, as well as BHA Salicylic Acid from Willow Bark which helps to boost cell turnover and exfoliate without irritation, for a smooth and healthy looking complexion, together with Galactoarabinan from Larch Trees, which has incredible hydrating properties for the skin and works by helping to reduce the trans epidermal water loss (TEWL), which is the measure used to indicate how well your skin barrier is at retaining moisture, it helps to boost exfoliation, reduced irritation and dryness and improve skin texture. Delicately fragranced with Organic Orange Flower Water. Preserved with a 100% natural preservative derived from sugar cane. Apply to cleansed skin using an eco-friendly reusable bamboo cotton pad. This product also comes with a ‘pump free’ option so that you can reduce your plastic consumption when repurchasing this product. 

Available at evolvebeauty.co.uk

Q+A Apple AHA Exfoliating Gel, RRP £8.50 for 75ml

Combining naturally occurring Malic and Lactic Acid alongside Apple Fruit Extracts and Glycolic Acid makes this the perfect choice for smoother, brighter skin. Don’t worry, this exfoliator is gentle and won’t strip skin of moisture, as it protects and strengthens skin whilst it works. Apple Fruit Extract is packed with antioxidant activity, to protect skin from environmental pollutants and stressors, Malic Acid, found in apples and pears, has a low pH which allows it to gently exfoliate, perfect for brightening skin tone and reducing the likelihood of new blemishes or fine lines forming, Lactic Acid draws moisture from the air to give skin a hydration boost whilst it also gently polishes, renewing your complexion and encouraging a stronger skin barrier and Glycolic Acid exfoliates the skin to reduce the appearance of hyperpigmentation, blemishes, and signs of ageing. Apply a thin and even layer to clean, dry skin. Massage into skin for 20 to 30 seconds. Rinse thoroughly with lukewarm water. Use twice a week for best results.

Available at qandaskin.com, feelunique.com, Holland & Barrett and other selected retailers

MULAC AC-TION Exfoliating Tonic, RRP £16.30 for 200ml

With 6% Glycolic Acid and enriched with Orange and Grapefruit Extracts which are natural sources of fruit acids, it removes dead skin cells, refines the texture of the skin and gives you a more even complexion. It minimises the visibility of pores, blackheads and imperfections and gives you a healthy glow and brighter skin. Apply with a reusable bamboo cotton pad on face and neck twice a day, morning and evening on clean skin, by gently patting it in, avoiding the eye area. You might experience a slight tingling sensation. Follow with your usual routine.

Available at mulaccosmetics.com

Oily/Blemish Prone Skin

Usually more prone to breakouts and blackheads, this skin type usually presents with an excessive sebum production, with skin looking shiny, slightly thicker and with enlarged pores. Oily skin can still get dehydrated (meaning it lacks water) and sensitised. Acne is a different condition that can happen to anyone, regardless of skin type, and it’s usually either hormone related (which is why it’s so common during adolescence and around periods) or sensitivity/allergy related.

Omorovicza Acid Fix, RRP £90.00 for 30ml

Using a potent blend of BHA and AHAs, this multi-purpose acid treatment serum deeply exfoliates, resurfaces, brightens and plumps dull and uneven complexions. Blended together with Australian Caviar Lime Extract, to help smooth and soften skin, improving luminosity, and their patented Healing Complex to help leave skin firmer and more supple. It dramatically helps reduce damage inflicted by sun exposure, pollution, acne and stress, revealing healthier-looking and more luminous skin. Apply two to three drops at night after cleansing then follow with your usual routine. The lightweight texture is quickly absorbed. Use 2 to 3 times a week, if sensitive, only once. You might experience a slight tingling feeling. Amazingly effective, great at clearing skin of blocked pores and blackheads, blemishes will diminish drastically overnight and overall complexion will look brighter and more refined.

Available at Omorovicza, SpaceNK, Cult Beauty and other selected retailers

Carbon Theory Tea Tree Oil & Glycolic Acid Breakout Control Cleansing Pads, RRP £16.00 for 60 pads

Ideal to help control breakouts. Perfect for keeping the skin looking and feeling it’s best in just a swipe, these pads are infused with a trio of hero ingredients, which I love, that will work together to help you achieve a more clear, balanced, even complexion. With Glycolic Acid, a powerful exfoliant, to break down dead skin cells, balance the skin’s pH level and brighten and even out the skin for a smoother complexion, Organic Tea Tree Oil, a natural antiseptic used to cleanse the skin, kill bacteria, tighten pores and reduce inflammation and keep the skin healthy and ACB Fruit Extracts (a blend of natural of AHAs including Bilberry, Sugar Cane, Orange, Lemon and Sugar Maple) to improve moisturisation, increase collagen production, reduce fine lines and promote cell renewal. Scent is mostly Tea Tree, so it might not be to everyone’s preference. Start by using once a week, wiping a pad across face and neck, and increase usage as your skin builds up tolerance, although they say you can use up to twice daily, but again, follow the indications your skin is giving you and use accordingly.

Available at carbontheory.com, Boots and Beauty Bay 

STARFACE Exfoliating Night Water, RRP £10.00 for 120ml 

This Exfoliating Night Water is formulated with a complete blend of AHAs, BHAs and PHAs to unclog pores, Botanical Extracts to calm redness and Niacinamide to reduce acne scarring and brighten skin. Always follow what your skin is telling you, a little stinging sensation is normal, like a slight buzzing feeling, but if it feels more like a burn, diminish frequency back from daily to every other day or even every 2 days (about 3 times a week) and let your skin adjust. If persistent irritation occurs, discontinue use and consult your dermatologist. Free of parabens, fragrance, oil and sulfates, cruelty-free and vegan. To use, saturate a reusable cotton round with a few pumps, gently press (not swipe) into clean, dry skin, avoiding the eye area, leave it for about 20 mins and then follow with your usual routine.

Available at Starface.world and Superdrug

COSRX AHA 7 Whitehead Power Liquid, RRP £22.00 for 100ml

A Glycolic Acid liquid exfoliator that uses 7% Glycolic Acid to help exfoliate the skin whilst targeting whitehead spots. Skin will be left feeling brighter and more even, as well as being hydrated and calmed, thanks to added Hyaluronic Acid. With Apple Fruit Water and Niacinamide to help brighten the skin, refine and improve texture, reduce whiteheads and even tone, for a more clear, even complexion. By removing dead skin cells it also helps to control breakouts and gently fade pigmentation and scarring.  The fluid serum-like consistency of this formula sinks easily into skin, without drying it, or making it feel tight or uncomfortable and has a very low tingle factor. Using a reusable cotton pad, sweep the product across the face, on cleansed skin, avoiding the eye area. Let it absorb and follow with the rest of your usual routine. If you have not used glycolic acid before, start by using this liquid once a week and then increase to 2-3 times a week, always checking how your skin reacts.

Available at Beauty Bay and feelunique.com

Skin Generics Glycolic Acid Anti-Blemish Natural Exfoliator, RRP £13.95 for 250ml

Glycolic and Salicylic Acid (in a 5.5% Active Complex), it’s a duo that promises to shift congestion and keep blemishes at bay. The Glycolic Acid offers deep exfoliation with a 4.3pH and Salicylic Acid and Capryloyl Salicylic Acid offer a deeper penetration of upper skin layers, removing dead skin cells, whilst thoroughly cleansing pores. A deep exfoliator with optimal results after using 2 or 3 times a week. Apply only at night on a freshly cleansed face, neck and neckline. Follow with your usual routine.

 Available at ARGOS 

PAULA’S CHOICE Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Liquid Exfoliant, RRP from £10.00 for 30ml

 Ideal for blemish-prone, oily or combination skin types, this non-abrasive formula is laced with BHA Salicylic Acid to quickly unclog pores, smooth wrinkles, brighten and even out skin tone by removing dead skin cells. Combined with its anti-inflammatory properties, this helps to reduce blemishes and blackheads for a more clarified complexion. Aiding salicylic acid in its blemish-clearing mission, a key ingredient in the formula, Methylpropanediol, enhances absorption so you can get the most out of every ingredient, whilst simultaneously boosting hydration levels, and Green Tea Extract delivers a powerful dose of antioxidants to help soothe and protect. The lightweight fluid toner-like texture sinks easily into skin, without drying it out, or making it feel tight or uncomfortable. Can be used up to twice daily.

Available at Cult Beauty

The Ordinary Salicylic Acid 2% Solution, RRP £4.20 for 30ml

Ideal for oily and congested skin, this 2%  Salicylic Acid and Witch Hazel treatment solution helps exfoliate the inside of pores to fight the appearance of blemishes and for better, visibly clearer skin with continued use. Witch Hazel helps calm and soothe feelings of discomfort and redness. This formula should not be used on sensitive, peeling or compromised skin. Use morning and evening. Apply a small dot directly on spots for visible improvement or apply a small amount over the face to maintain visible clarity with continued use. Avoid the eye area. Patch testing prior to use is advised. Start with one application daily. If dryness or peeling occurs reduce application to once a day or every other day. If you develop any severe reaction like irritation, hives, swelling or blistering, rinse off, cease use and consult a physician right away. Always use SPF. I particularly like using this as an occasional treatment, working together with the rest of my routine.

Available at Deciem, lookfantastic.com, ASOS, Selfridges and other selected retailers

Dry Skin/Dehydrated Skin

No, dry and dehydrated are not the same thing! Dry skin usually lacks or is very low on the natural oils (sebum) our skin produces to protect itself, meaning the skin’s protective barrier can be easily depleted or compromised and there may also be a lack of natural moisturising factors or NMF (usually our skin produces these also, these commonly being squalane, wax esters and triglycerides). Dry skin will usually feel tight and uncomfortable and look dull and lackluster and sometimes be flaky. Dehydrated skin is missing water, not oil, and that is usually caused by external factors such as extreme/constant weather changes (air con, heating, cold, etc), unbalanced diet or lack of proper water intake, medication, hormonal changes, too much caffeine or alcohol or even stress, among other things. Dehydrated skin will also feel tight and look dull.

1.Typology Gentle Peeling Serum 10% Lactic Acid + Acerola Extract, RRP £11.50 for 15ml

Highly concentrated in Lactic Acid with a gentle peeling effect for a unified and radiant complexion. An uneven and dull complexion is often caused by an accumulation of dead skin on the skin’s surface. This lactic acid serum removes dead skin cells for a smoother, more even skin tone. And Acerola Extract is known for its antioxidant properties that work to combat free radicals responsible for a dull complexion. The first few uses may cause slight redness while your skin gets used to lactic acid. These effects will diminish after several uses. For optimal results, use regularly for 4 weeks. Less abrasive than glycolic acid, lactic acid is better tolerated by the skin. However, we still recommend patch testing the product and observing it for 24 to 48 hours to see if it causes any reaction. Apply 3 to 4 drops of the lactic acid serum to your face and neck, on cleansed, toned skin, in the evening. Follow with your usual routine. Always use SPF. Gorgeous, gorgeous product to add to your routine, this is quickly becoming one of my favourite lactic acids.

Available at uk.typology.com

Ameliorate Transforming Facial Serum, RRP £33.00 for 30ml

This is a truly transformative serum, formulated with Ameliorate’s unique Alpha Hydroxy Therapy, rich in Lactic Acid, to encourage surface skin cell renewal and gently exfoliate combined with their one of a kind LaH6 Skin Hydration Complex and ProRenew Complex™ which is based on Probiotic Technology to deeply hydrate and stimulate surface cell renewal process and also helps enhance barrier function to reveal moisturised, radiant-looking skin. With added Hyaluronic Acid to provide hydration and smoothing microrelief, Bio Honey acids, rich in PHA to give gentle but effective exfoliation. This AHA face serum helps to dramatically improve the appearance of rough, dry skin. Use daily in the evening for skin that looks radiant and feels beautifully soft and smooth. Even though this was created specifically for dry, rough, uneven skin, anyone can use it, just adjust how often. It’s absolutely fabulous and I love it!

Available at Ameliorate, Cult Beauty, feelunique.com, lookfantastic.com and other selected retailers

The Ordinary Mandelic Acid 10% + HA, RRP £5.80 for 30ml

This offers superficial dermal peeling that is gentler than other AHAs. The molecular weight of mandelic acid is larger than other alpha hydroxy acids. This larger size allows mandelic acid to penetrate the skin more slowly which in turn makes it very gentle and suitable for all skin types. Effectively resurfacing, smoothing and brightening, gently dissolves the thin top layer of the skin to reveal a radiant, more youthful complexion by minimising fine lines and evening out skin tone without irritation. The Hyaluronic Acid helps keep skin hydrated. Apply once a day, ideally in the evening. Can be diluted with other treatments to reduce strength until skin develops tolerance, or you can start with a weekly application and gradually increase frequency. 

Available at Deciem, feelunique.com, Beauty Bay, Cult Beauty, Boots and other selected retailers

BYBI Day Glow Brightening AHA Tonic, RRP £16.00 for 150ml

Day Glow is designed as a daily tonic for glowing skin, formulated with a cocktail of ingredients that work together to improve texture and tone. Gentle enough for every skin type, Lactic Acid, one of the gentler AHAs, chemically exfoliates dead skin cells for brighter, smoother skin with a refined appearance of pores. Superfood Shiitake and Reishi Mushrooms together with antioxidant  White Tea Extract, help improve skin renewal and brighten skin by reducing redness, the appearance of dark spots and imperfections and they are also anti-inflammatory, helping to calm skin for a more even complexion and upcycled Melissa Floral Water soothes, hydrates and awakens dull, dry skin, leaving skin more dewy and radiant. Apply every morning to cleansed skin. Can be applied to skin directly or with a reusable cotton pad. No need to rinse. Follow with your usual routine and always wear sunscreen.

Available at BYBI, feelunique.com, ASOS, Naturissimo and other selected retailers

Murad Resurgence Replenishing Multi-Acid Peel, RRP £49.00 for 100ml

A bi-phase peel that works effectively to resurface the skin, but is gentle enough to be used daily. Phase 1 sees AHA’s (Glycolic, Malic and Lactic), BHA’s and Tranexamic Acid, exfoliate the top layers of the skin to give a smoother, brighter complexion. Phase 2 is rich in a replenishing buffet of adaptogenic Holy Basil, a potent antioxidant and skin soother, and omega-rich nourishing oils that kick in for maximum hydration and to help the skin repair itself and bolster skin’s barrier function whilst buffering the sensitising effect of the peeling on skin keeping your complexion comfortable. This peel speeds up cell turnover for a smoother, brighter, more even skin tone. Superb skin smoothing acid cocktail with a low tingle factor.

Available at Murad, John Lewis, Cult Beauty, lookfantastic.com and other selected retailers

Kat Burki Dual Exfoliating Clay Mask, RRP £70.67 for 130ml

This exfoliating mask works in two ways to help perfect skin texture. The first works with physical exfoliation with both Cranberry fibers and Hibiscus Petals, that perform by removing debris then disintegrating, without harming the skin’s surface and Glycolic and Lactic Acids chemically exfoliate as well to ensure complete resurfacing. The second floods the skin with nutrition and hydration with Hyaluronic Acid, Shea Butter and Squalane, while Kaolin Clay removes impurities and cellular debris and a Herbal Complex of Arnica, Chamomile, Centella, Lavender, Aloe and Calendula help to soothe and calm skin, buffering the effects of the exfoliation on the skin. With added Vitamin C to help brighten skin. After cleansing, gently massage onto skin in circular motions. Apply to face, neck and décolletage, avoiding the eye and the lip area. Allow to work on skin for up to 15 minutes. Add water to fingertips and massage to remove. Rinse well and pat dry. Use weekly to help remove buildup and debris or twice weekly for congested skin. Follow with your usual skincare routine.

Available at Kat Burki

The Ordinary Lactic Acid 5% + HA, RRP £5.50 for 30ml

This is an exfoliating lightweight serum that works to minimise uneven skin texture with a 5% Lactic Acid and 2% Hyaluronic Acid formulation that offers very mild exfoliation and is supported with a purified Tasmanian Pepperberry derivative known to help reduce irritation and signs of inflammation and sensitivity that is often associated with exfoliation. Because this derivative is of plant origin and varies in colour seasonally, this colour variation may be apparent in the formula from time to time. Enhanced with hero hydrating ingredient Hyaluronic Acid, this super-charged serum strengthens the lipid barrier to improve the skin’s ability to attract and retain moisture. Apply once a day, ideally in the evenings. You can mix into other treatments or serums to reduce strength until skin develops tolerance, or you can use once a week only initially and gradually increase usage as skin builds up its tolerance. Another favourite acid to add to a skincare routine.

Available at Deciem, feelunique.com, Cult Beauty, SpaceNK, Beauty Bay and other selected retailers

Balanced/All Skin types

Balanced or “normal” skin is usually the holy grail of skin types and sported by those that won the skin typing genetic lottery (yes, the rest of us are jealous). It is as the name suggests, perfectly balanced between sebum and natural moisturising factors. It has good, even texture and pores are a non-issue. Balanced skin can still get dehydrated or sensitised or even get occasional spots.

Typology Exfoliating Serum 10% Glycolic Acid, from RRP £12.90 for 15ml

An exfoliating serum to treat blackheads, blemishes and uneven complexions. With 10% Glycolic Acid to exfoliate, remove dead skin for smoother skin, tighten pores and reduce blackheads and Mastic Pistachio Extract to help tighten pores, reduce shine and achieve a more even complexion. In addition to its peeling effect, glycolic acid also moisturises due to its stimulating effect on cell renewal and hyaluronic acid synthesis. With added Alpha-Bisabolol which is derived from Candeia Bark, and is known for its anti-irritant and anti-inflammatory effects and Chamomile Extract which is known for its ability to soothe and repair skin, thanks to its Matricin and Bisabolol components. It has anti-inflammatory properties and much like Alpha-Bisabolol, is used as an anti-irritant to soothe the effect of Glycolic Acid.

Available on uk.typology.com 

Elemental Herbology Skin Resurfacing Multi-Acid Facial Pads, RRP £30.00 for 40 pads

Natural acid treatment pads containing 5% Glycolic Acid to gently exfoliate, improve skin texture and reduce congestion and 5% Fruit Acids which are natural AHA’s from Bilberry, Lemon and Orange to help stimulate cell turnover for brighter skin all help to minimise pores, breakouts and fine lines while promoting an even skin tone. With added Aloe Vera to help heal and rejuvenate the skin while protecting from free radical damage. Skin is gently exfoliated, helping to increase skin cell turnover for a bright and balanced complexion. Simply smooth over skin after cleansing and follow with your usual skincare routine. For best results use 2 to 3 times a week. Amazing results and smells gorgeous too, fresh and mild.

Available at Elemental Herbology

The Organic Pharmacy Four Acid Peel Serum, RRP £30.00 for 30ml

Formulated to smooth and renew skin, by gently exfoliating with a blend of Glycolic, Lactic, Tartaric and Citric Acids to help fight blemishes, improve skin texture and reduce the appearance of fine lines to create a bright, more radiant complexion. With added Witch Hazel and Passion Flower Extract to help keep skin hydrated and supple and Grape Seed Extract for its antioxidant properties. Apply one full dropper to face, neck and decollete every night after cleansing, allow to absorb and follow with your usual routine. Always use SPF during the day. 

Available at theorganicpharmacy.com

Beauty Pie Dr. Glycolic™ Multi-Acid (6.5%) Micropeeling Pads, RRP £25.00 for 30 pads (£9.74 for members)

Another brilliant creation from the Pie, these pads will help reduce clogged pores and remove complexion-dulling, dead skin cells, encouraging skin to remain clear. Enriched with 5% Glycolic Acid for resurfacing and renewing skin, minimizing breakouts, reducing the appearance of scarring and hyperpigmentation, refining texture and reducing the visibility of fine lines and wrinkles, circulation-boosting 1% Niacinamide (Vitamin B3), a non-sensitizing vitamin that helps visibly improve the appearance of large pores, uneven skin tone and texture, while also reducing the visibility of fine lines and wrinkles. It also helps brighten skin tone and boost the hydrating ability of most moisturizers, a 1.5% blend of Lemon, Bilberry and Orange Fruit Extracts which are natural AHAs, to resurface and refine the skin’s texture, visibly reducing the appearance of blemishes and wrinkles and skin-soothing Anionic Polysaccharides, an antioxidant derived from natural sugars, to help calm, soothe and support healthy skin, plus reduce signs of inflammation for a clearer complexion. Sweep a single pad across a clean face, neck and chest, avoiding the lips and eye contour. Use daily on oily/acne-prone skin types to smooth away dead skin cells and excess oil build-up, or two-three times a week on normal/combination/dry complexions for T-zone control or light resurfacing. Very mild tingle factor with these pads and a gorgeously fresh scent.

Available at Beauty Pie

BYBI Acid Gold AHA Resurfacing Face Mask, RRP £20.00 for 50ml

Acid Gold is an absolutely delightful to apply jelly-like mask that is packed with natural AHAs including Lactic (derived from Bilberry Extract), Glycolic (derived from Sugar Cane Extract), Malic and Tartaric (derived from Sugar Maple Extract). to exfoliate away dulling, dead skin cells.  Dead skin cells cause both dullness and dryness and AHAs break down the “glue” that binds these cells together, revealing smoother, firmer and softer skin. It provides a potent hit of regenerating and skin cell renewing ingredients that brighten the complexion and replenish skin while improving tone and texture. With Pumpkin Enzyme to gently exfoliate, enhancing cell renewal and replenishing skin firmness, texture and bounce and Papaya Enzyme that works to reduce bacteria in the skin, helping to prevent breakouts and blemishes. Combined with Sea Buckthorn Oil and moisturising Glycerin, it doesn’t strip or dry out the skin. Instead, skin feels balanced, clear and soft with visibly improved texture.The Pumpkin Enzyme in this is derived from pumpkin flesh that is a by-product of the pumpkin seed industry and would otherwise be thrown away. To use, apply a thin layer to clean skin with the help of the little bamboo spatula included. Leave on for 5-15 minutes and rinse thoroughly with warm water. You will feel a slight tingle and a little redness immediately after use, which is normal but rinse off immediately if the tingling begins to burn or sting. Like with all other acids, if your skin is more sensitive, keep it on for the minimum amount of time. Follow with your usual hydrating mist/toner and serum/oil of choice and night time moisturiser if use one.

Available at bybi.com

Crabtree & Evelyn Brighten + Hydrate Exfoliating Tonic, RRP £25.00 for 130ml

A sweep of this Exfoliating Tonic leaves skin smooth, bright, radiant and more even and balanced thanks to a supercharged skincare blend of powerful ingredients. AHAs and BHAs work together to exfoliate the skin surface and unclog pores, creating a smoother, more refined texture. Apple Fruit Water hydrates and stays in balance with the skin’s natural pH level while Liquorice Root Extract soothes and calms to keep skin feeling comfortable and also has natural antiseptic properties. Suitable for all skin types it smooths skin, and boosts glow. After your evening cleanse, shake a few drops of the tonic onto a reusable cotton pad and sweep over the face, neck and chest area. Wait a few seconds to absorb, then follow with your night-time routine.

Available at Crabtree & Evelyn and selected retailers

Skin Proud Detox Daily Exfoliating Tonic, RRP £14.95 for 150ml

New kid on the block Skin Proud comes with totally instagrammable packaging, budget friendly prices and highly effective formulas. Designed to purify and refine skin with a cocktail of skin friendly ingredients, this gentle skin tonic is blended with a delicate balance of AHAs and BHA to help clear away dead skin cells and clarify pores, revealing a hydrated, fresh complexion. Enriched with Green Apple Extract for an intense hit of moisture, Niacinamide to balance the skin, Aloe Vera to cool and soothe, and Hyaluronic Acid to keep the skin plump and hydrated. It gently unclogs pores and removes excess skin cells, improving and brightening skin texture and tone, whilst helping to fight breakouts. Gentle enough to use daily, morning or evening. Apply after cleansing to face and neck using a reusable cotton pad. Allow it to absorb, then follow with your usual skincare routine. Again, if you have sensitive skin, build up tolerance by using only once a week and gradually increasing usage.

 Available at Boots.com and ASOS

The Scrubs

And these are for anyone that still loves a good old physical scrub every now and then (no more than twice a week though).

Green People Fruit Scrub Exfoliator, RRP £17.00 for 50ml

Effective yet gentle natural exfoliator for instant radiance. A skin-brightening, organic facial scrub with nourishing Shea butter, antioxidant and soothing Pomegranate Oil, regenerative Rosehip Oil and Sweet scented Orange Blossom to tone and rejuvenate the complexion and lend its light, fresh and uplifting aroma. Combined with ultra-fine exfoliating particles of Bamboo and Bentonite clay to buff away dead, dull and dry skin to reveal a smoother complexion and Hibiscus, known as the ‘Botox plant’, has a skin-firming effect. Apply to clean, dry skin using small circular movements. Rinse with lukewarm water, then a splash of cold. Follow with your usual routine. Use once or twice a week.

Available at Green People

Wild Science Lab Root+Fruit Power Smoothie Skin Polish, RRP £35.00 for 50ml

Because gentle exfoliation is a must, include this skin polishing exfoliator in your routine once or twice a week. This will help slough away dull, dead skin and reveal a more balanced, brighter, fresher skin with a healthier radiant glow, even tone and texture. Contains antioxidant-rich vitamin C, which is a must-have to stimulate collagen and brighten skin tone. As well as a blend of 6 nourishing essential oils, it’s also loaded with exfoliating Bamboo, fatty acid-enriched Evening Primrose Oil and Meadowfoam Seed Oil which locks moisture into the skin and helps keep it supple. Added Carrot Tissue and Organic Coconut Oils also help restore a smooth, radiant, balanced complexion. To apply massage gently over a clean, damp face and neck using circular motions, avoiding the eye area. To  further its exfoliating effects, allow to remain on skin a minute or two without scrubbing. Rinse off or remove with a warm, damp face cloth. Follow with a pampering mask or your usual skincare routine. Smells amazing too!

Available at wildsciencelab.com

MONAT Berry Refined Scrub, RRP £54.00 for 87ml

This cruelty-free and vegan friendly 2-in-1 exfoliator mask gently buffs and removes dead skin cells with the help of natural fruit acids (AHAs) Glycolic, Citric and Lactic Acids blended with naturally exfoliating Granulated Sugar Extracts. Antioxidant-rich Cranberry Seed works together with REJUVENIQE S™ (their unique complex that blends 13+ Natural Plant and Essential Oils rich in omega fatty acids, antioxidants and nutrients) and nourishing botanicals like Bay Berry Wax and Murumuru Butter for even-toned, fresh-faced, healthy, glowing skin. Also, it smells fab! To use, remove a small amount from the jar with the spatula provided, then apply it on freshly cleansed, damp skin and massage over face, neck, and décolletage using gentle circular motions. For an extra treat, leave on skin as a mask for 5 mins. If your skin is prone to sensitivity, you may want to start with a shorter time period and work your way up to the 5 minutes mark. Rinse off with warm water or with a wet, soft face cloth and follow with a hydrating mask or your regular skincare.

Available at www.monatglobal.com/uk

Age Defy+ by Cha Vøhtz Soft Buff Exfoliator, RRP £24.00 for 30ml

Formulated to refine, brighten and illuminate dull, dry skin with the powerful three-way exfoliation from Pineapple Enzymes that dissolve protein bonds to release dead skin cells, Bamboo which gently lifts away hardened skin cells to reveal youthful skin and Bentonite clay which unblocks congested pores to refine skin texture. Regular use helps to increase absorption of moisturisers, serums and other skincare products. Scented with a blissful blend of warm citrus notes that act aromatherapeautically to help clear the mind and soothe nervous tension. Apply with gentle circular massage motions to face, neck and décolletage, taking care to reach the edges of the face and hairline. Rinse with warm water to reveal beautifully soft skin. Use once or twice a week.

Available at Green People

Clockface Beauty Clary Sage & Juniper Berry Face Scrub, RRP £34.00 for 120ml

Buff away dead skin cells and excess oil to reveal healthy looking skin. Himalayan Pink Salt and Jojoba Beads create the ideal texture to scrub away any dead skin cells without damaging skin, excess oil and dirt build up, unclogging pores, combines with hydrating ingredients like Mango and Avocado Butters, that will leave skin feeling nourished and glowing. Added Grape Seed and Moringa Oils to hydrate, nourish and tone skin and also fight signs of ageing, Clary Sage that works as a natural astringent will balance skin and cool irritation whilst it removes impurities from deep within the skin and encourages skin regeneration, so it will help reduce scarring and blemishes. The lush, soothing fragrance of Clary Sage and Juniper promotes a sense of calm and wellbeing. Cruelty free, vegan, 100% natural and waterless. Positively gorgeous for drier skins, as it leaves skin feeling incredibly smooth and truly nourished.

Available at Clockface Beauty, Harvey Nichols, Skinforia and other selected retailers

Beauty Pie Wonderscrub Bio-Dermabrasion Face Polish, RRP £35.00 for 60ml (£10.35 for members)

Formulated with a blend of super gentle Volcanic Spheres to help unclog skin and diminish the appearance of pores, hydrating liquid Shea Butter to soothe, help support the skin barrier and improve hydration levels by reducing moisture loss and super-fruit nutrient Pineapple Enzymes which helps visibly renew skin and optimize translucency to combat dulling effects that occur over time. Apply a pea-sized dose to clean, dry skin, gently massage, focusing on problem areas then add some water to massage the rest of your face and leave on for 3-5 minutes before rinsing to clear, brighten, purify, smooth and re-energize your skin to create a radiant, more even skin tone. Follow with a pamper mask or your usual routine of toner/essence and serum and/or moisturizer. Use once or twice weekly.

Available at Beauty Pie

.Bad Habit Total Reboot AHA/BHA Enzyme Peel, RRP £28.00 for 50ml

This is a highly concentrated weekly peel designed to reveal brighter, smoother skin. A powerful blend of AHAs, BHA, and PHA exfoliate dull, dry, dead skin cells and help accelerate cell turnover to achieve softer skin. Pineapple and Papaya Fruit Enzymes rapidly resurface skin for an immediate brightening effect and micro-fine, non-abrasive Bamboo Powder gently polishes uneven skin texture without causing irritation. With an energizing twist of Sweet Orange Essential Oil, this is the perfect addition to your skincare routine to help you achieve a healthier looking complexion. Use once a week by applying a thin layer to clean skin, avoiding the eye area. You might feel a slight tingling sensation, which is absolutely normal, and it should go away quickly. If it doesn’t and starts to feel more like a burn wash it off straight away. Leave on for 10-20 minutes (less if you have sensitive skin) then gently massage while rinsing thoroughly. Smells positively divine too.

Available at uk.morphe.com

Next we look at the other occasional/pamper skincare products, face masques!

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