Photo: Liquidlibrary/liquidlibrary/Getty Images
Sex and the City’s Samantha Jones may have looked like steak tartare in that infamous post-chemical peel scene but she was onto something. Chemical exfoliators like glycolic acid have great dermatological benefits and are not as bad as they sound. Many over-the-counter options contain effective-yet-gentle formulas, giving you younger-looking skin without the peeling side effects. So, grab some glycolic and leave the raw stuff to sushi chefs.
The Alpha Acid
Good 'ol glycolic belongs to the alpha-hydroxy acid family, organic acids naturally found in fruits, including malic, citric, and tartaric acids; sour milk, lactic acid; and sugar cane, from which glycolic originates. Glycolic acid has been proven to be extremely efficient at doing what we love best — anti-aging. The acid breaks up the bonds that hold outer skin cells to the surface, allowing for easier and deeper exfoliation.
Getting your glycolic acid dose in a pad makes anti-aging simple and mess-free. Board-certified New York dermatologist Dr. Debra Jaliman, author of "Skin Rules: Trade Secrets from a Top Dermatologist," swears by Peter Thomas Roth Gentle Complexion Correction Pads, which contain 10 percent glycolic acid and 0.5 percent salicylic acid to help fight blemish breakouts. She points out that because the pads also contain aloe vera, green tea and chamomile, they are mild and not at all irritating to the skin.
Even your therapist would agree: reaching deep down can promote impressive results. Adding a chemical exfoliant to your skin care regimen can boost cellular turnover, which will help diminish fine lines and age or sunspots, also known as hyperpigmentation. It will also give you a fresher look as newer, healthier — not so wrinkled and dull — cells take center stage.
Now, before you get glycolic-happy, there's one thing you should know: It may be irritating to the skin, especially to first-time users. If you’re new to the alpha-hydroxy-acid scene, use sparingly to start. Although the pads should be gentle enough for most, Dr. Jaliman recommends that super-sensitive newbies use the pads every other day. Once your skin becomes acclimated, you can graduate to daily use.