I have used acids in my routine for a couple of years now, be it on a daily basis with a lower percentage Glycolic or Mandelic or a weekly blast with a mixed acid or higher percentage Glycolic.
This post is looking at Glycolic Acid, what it is, what it does and the two main brands that I have used, Pixi and The Ordinary.
Glycolic Acid is a naturally occurring Alpha Hydroxy Acid (AHA) derived from cane sugar and is the smallest molecule of AHA. It acts to break the ‘glue’ or ‘bond’ holding dead skin cells together and in doing this it exfoliates the skin, leaving a brighter and fresher complexion.
Salon-based acid treatments or chemical peels are usually at a very high concentration and shouldn’t be attempted as an at-home treatment. As I have never had that type of treatment I will be focusing on the safer treatments you can use daily at home!
Acids, when used too often or at a higher percentage without proper skincare to support the active properties of it, can destroy the skin’s natural moisture barrier so picking a product that works for you and your skin is key as is hydration. It goes without saying, SPF is vital in a morning routine. SPF should be worn daily anyway however acids can increase the skin’s sensitivity to the sun so it even more important if an acid is in your routine.
Pixi Glow Tonic
Pixi Skintreats Glow Tonic is 5% Glyolic Acid and also contains Ginsing to improve circulation and energise the skin and Aloe Vera to soothe and hydrate which is an ideal combination. It is said to refine the appearance of pores and gently accelerate cell renewal to promote a brighter and more glowing complexion. It is Alcohol free so isn’t drying on the skin.
The instructions are to use this AM or PM or when needed. I have used this in the morning or evening, and on some occasions both but I judge what my skin needs every time I do my routine and regardless of when I use it, I always hydrate my skin afterwards and then continue with my routine. (Some days I do skip acid altogether and just focus on hydration!)
I love the fact that I was able to re-try this as a travel size version from Marks & Spencer’s Beauty
Ingredients: Water/Aqua/Eau, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice, Glycolic Acid, Butylene Glycol, Glycerin, Sodium Hydroxide, Hamamelis Virginiana (Witch Hazel) Leaf Extract, Aesculus Hippocastanum (Horse Chestnut) Seed Extract, Hexylene Glycol, Fructose, Glucose, Sucrose, Urea, Dextrin, Alanine, Glutamic Acid, Aspartic Acid, Hexyl Nicotinate, Panax Ginseng Root Extract, Ethylhexylglycerin, Disodium EDTA, Biotin, Panthenol, PPG-26-Buteth-26, PEG-40 Hydrogenated Castor Oil, Phenoxyethanol, Fragrance (Parfum), Caramel, Red 4 (CI 14700).
I used the Pixi Glow tonic for quite a few months, then when I started using The Ordinary products I saw they had a version of Glycolic Acid that was slightly stronger and cheaper so I had to give it a go!
This solution also contains Aloe Vera and Ginsing with the addition of Tasmanian Pepperberry derivative to help reduce irritation that can occur with acid use.
Essentially it is designed to do exactly the same as the Glow Tonic so there’s nothing different on that front.
Ingredients: Aqua (Water), Glycolic Acid, Rosa damascena flower water, Centaurea cyanus flower water, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Water, Propanediol, Glycerin, Triethanolamine, Aminomethyl Propanol, Panax Ginseng Root Extract, Tasmannia Lanceolata Fruit/Leaf Extract, Aspartic Acid, Alanine, Glycine, Serine, Valine, Isoleucine, Proline, Threonine, Histidine, Phenylalanine, Glutamic Acid, Arginine, PCA, Sodium PCA, Sodium Lactate, Fructose, Glucose, Sucrose, Urea, Hexyl Nicotinate, Dextrin, Citric Acid, Polysorbate 20, Gellan Gum, Trisodium Ethylenediamine Disuccinate, Sodium Chloride, Hexylene Glycol, Potassium Sorbate, Sodium Benzoate, 1,2-Hexanediol, Caprylyl Glycol.
I used the Pixi Glow tonic for almost a year, then switched to The Ordinary, which again I used for about a year. If I am using a product and wondering whether it is making a difference, I tend to drop it or switch it to see if I notice anything about my skin. With both of these products I noticed a difference in my skin being brighter. As of around 3 weeks ago, I went back to Pixi Glow Tonic as I was starting to notice that on using The Ordinary’s version, I was getting a bit of redness and irritation developing which bizarrely I hadn’t experienced in the whole time I had been using it! I switched back to Pixi, again just to see if there was any difference and I think my skin prefers it. It is hard to explain what I mean by that as it’s not something that I can quite put my finger on but Pixi feels more soothing.
Despite being marked as being a slightly higher concentration, I don’t think I noticed any major difference switching from Pixi to The Ordinary. However, switching back I have noticed that my skin is a bit calmer … again bizzare but skin changes and I go with what my skin prefers!
My routine with an acid in it would look like this:
Cleanse (Or double cleanse if in the evening)
Acid (after making sure my skin is completely dry!)
Hydrating toner / Spray
SPF (AM only)
I do use acid peels at home – ones that are safe to use and are not salon-strength. I will review those in a separate post!
Do you use Glycolic Acid in your Skincare routine?