We’ve come a long way since Sex And The City’s Samantha Jones was famously left raw and (literally) red-faced after one disastrous acid peel. “The newest formulas are often paired with soothing ingredients and formulated at the correct pH, with sophisticated delivery systems for better results with minimal side effects,” explains facialist Melanie Grant.
Alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs), such as glycolic or lactic acid, help brighten skin tone, boost hydration and promote collagen production, while beta hydroxy acids (BHAs) – primarily salicylic acid – reduce inflammation and deep-clean pores. And both AHAs and BHAs help gently dissolve the bonds that hold dead cells on the surface of the skin.
“If you’re new to acids or have sensitive skin, start with a concentration of 5 per cent AHA or 1 per cent BHA; otherwise try 8–10 per cent AHA and 2 per cent BHA,” suggests Grant. “Layering more than two AHA/BHA products at once is overkill, so if you’re using a lactic acid cleanser and toner, you probably don’t need an AHA serum or moisturiser.”
Balance out your regimen with non-active skincare, like a milk cleanser or nourishing moisturiser, space out vitamin C and acid products (apply the former in the morning, the latter in the evening), use retinoids and glycolic acid on alternate nights, and wear sunscreen daily.