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From Skin-smoothing Glycolic Acid To Acne-busting Salicylic Acid: 10 Of The Best Acid Exfoliators

Vivian KELLY
by Vivian KELLY Published on 7 April 2015
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Ever wondered if there was a product that could give you everything you need in one single bottle? Well, there is. Exfoliators are the miracle product. From unclogging pores, brightening skin, fighting spots and giving you instantly younger skin, there's not much to complain about when it comes to these beauts. Get your hands on one, stat. Here are 10 of the best!

A glowing complexion, dewey fresh skin... it's every woman's dream, right? Well, good news ladies, you CAN have it too!

All those girls you envy? It's not their genes they're thanking, it's their acid exfoliators. But many of us can't seem to get our heads around them. So how do acids work and what are they for? Here's what you need to know...

​Alpha-Hydroxy acids (AHA’s) work mainly as an exfoliant. Senior Trainer at Jan Marini Skin Research, Hayley Salisbury says, "They enable the dead skin cells within the epidermis to slough off, promoting the growth of new skin cells. AHA’s are derived from fruit, sugar cane, and milk. In total there are 5 main types of AHA the most common being glycolic and lactic acid which are all water soluble."

• Glycolic acid (sugar cane)
• Lactic acid (milk)
• Malic acid (apples and pears)
• Citric acid (oranges and lemons)
• Tartaric acid (grapes)

Glycolic acid is the smallest AHA, enabling it to penetrate within the dermal layers of the skin. This unique property makes glycolic acid a suitable ingredient for treating a multiple of skin concerns including anti-ageing, with its ability to trigger cell turnover which stimulates new production of collagen and elastin, pigmentation, acne and rosacea due to its added anti-inflammatory benefits.

Generally AHAs are fabulous for skin that is sun damaged or dry as it can treat the dermis without drying out the skin. However, they're not always your best choice for those with blemish prone skin. If you have spots, go for a BHA which can penetrate deeper into the skin helping to unclog your pores and get rid of the infection.

Beta Hydroxy Acid (BHA) is commonly known as Salicylic Acid (a godsend for spots) which is extracted from the bark of a willow tree. Hayley says, "BHA being lipid soluble (i.e. oily) enabling it to penetrate into the pores, reducing the over production of sebum, whilst softening and exfoliating dead skin cells that can build up within them.

​"It's larger molecular size limits its penetration within the skin and along with its anti-inflammatory properties enables it to be great ingredient for treating acne, oily and problematic skins."

In a nutshell, BHAs are amazing for treating acne prone and oily skin while also helping treat sun damaged skin. If you're interested in trying one yourself start somewhere between 0.5% to 1% and work your way up to 2%. It's tempting to want to pour the whole bottle on your face (especially when you can see the results) but when it comes to skincare, less is really more.

Here are the 10 best exfoliators, ever.

The Microdelivery, £59.00 © www.boots.com

Philosophy, The Microdelivery

This two-step at home peel is perfect for those that don't want to commit to an everyday product. Just massage Step One onto clean, dry skin for 60 seconds then apply a teaspoon of Step Two on top. Soon after warming white foam will appear (this is the magic happening). Leave it on for 2-3 minutes and reveal your newly transformed skin! Some even say it beats a spa facial! Just saying.

Available at Boots.

Dr Dennis Gross, Alpha Beta Peel Extra Strength Formula

These pre-soaked pads are formulated with both BHAs and AHAs helping to deliver younger, fresher looking skin in just a couple of swipes. Simply use two different pads across the face with two minutes in between. It's a great one for getting sun-damaged skin back to it's pre-sun condition. Use it 2 to 3 times a week for the best results.

Available at Space NK

Perricone MD, Blue Plasma

For those who aren't comfortable with acids just yet but really want the effect, we suggest this little guy. Formulated with salmon roe enzyme and cooper, this blue plasma serum works to slough away dead skin cells and hydrate thirsty skin, all without redness or irritation! Win. It's also amazing for those with super sensitive skin that find acids too drying.

Available at Perricone MD

Pixi Glow Tonic

If you've got dull skin this is the one for you. This alcohol free toner is a glycolic beauty giving you brighter, firmer, glowing skin, overnight! It also smells beautiful and is gentle enough to use everyday. Trust, you'll get your money's worth.

Available at Pixi Beauty

Paula's Choice, RESIST Weekly Resurfacing Treatment

If you need a shot of glow and are not prone to redness or irritation this amazing, weekly resurfacing treatment will be a godsend for your skin. With 10% AHA you are guaranteed results come morning time. Just apply onto clean skin overnight and say hello to younger, clearer skin! (Make sure to put sunscreen on though.)

Available at Paula's Choice

Alpha-H Liquid Gold

Who can be surprised they've called this 'Liquid Gold', it's really what it says it is. This cult product can be found in many beauty editor's skincare routines, starring our fave AHA, glycolic acid and working deep into the skin to help resurface, re-ignite and re-hydrate. For best results, apply once a week overnight without any other products on.

Available at Cult Beauty

Tata Harper, Regenerating Cleanser

This beautiful cleanser is as natural as it's gonna get. The Regenerating Cleanser is 100% free from synthetics, artificial fragrances and fillers made with natural ingredients like apricot seed powder to gently exfoliate, pomegranate enzymes and pink French clay to minimise pores and a form of BHA (salicylic acid) in the form of willow bark to bust those breakouts and reveal, clearer more beautiful skin. We need to have it.

Available at Cult Beauty

Paula's Choice 2% BHA Lotion Exfoliant

If you're not a newbie to acids and have tried everything under the sun to get rid of your breakouts, try Paula's Choice Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Lotion Exfoliant. The salicylic acid will go from the surface, deep into the pore to tackle your spots head on and give you clearer fresher looking skin. Simply apply once or twice a day after toning and don't rinse. Apply a moisturiser after if needed.

Available at Paula's Choice

Clarins, Gentle Exfoliator Brightening Toner

Clarins never lets us down. Their Gentle Exfoliating Toner combines a cocktail of mild acids giving you brighter, softer, smoother looking skin. It also helps strengthen the skin's resistance to wrinkles while encouraging cell renewal. We recommend this product to someone who wants more radiant looking skin with out any problems such as rosacea or acne.

Available at Clarins

Nip+Fab Glycolic Fix Cleanser

A major steal! Nip + Fab's New Glycolic Fix Cleanser won't suck the life out of your purse but it will give you beautiful exfoliation and retexturising thanks to its 2% gycolic acid. The formulation also includes olive oil for added moisture and hydration. Fab job! If you want to test the waters with acids, give this one a go first before investing in other more expensive products.

Available at Boots

P.S. ALWAYS remember to put on your sunscreen every morning! Acids strips away the dead skin layers, leaving your skin more prone to sensitivity and sunburn.

Fancy a night of pampering? Here are the best exfoliating masks for a perfect glowing face.

Korres Wild Rose Peeling Mask, £26.00 © www.asos.com

Korres Wild Rose Peeling Mask at Asos | Alpha-H Liquid Gold Smoothing & Perfecting Mask at Cult Beauty |
Dr Sebagh Deep Exfoliating Mask at Space NK | Glycolactic Radiance Renewal Mask at REN Skincare | Pumpkin Enzyme Mask at Cult Beauty

We're hooked. Are you going to give this beauty saviour a go? Tweet us @sofeminineUK!

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by Vivian KELLY 126 shares