I used to be the exfoliating queen. If you’re a similar vintage to me. you may remember those Japanese washing grains from the Body Shop? Who knows, maybe they still have them? It was like using sand paper on your skin. And I loved it. I would scrub away as hard as I could.
The thought of it now makes me cringe in horror
All that scrubbing would have done some serious damage to my skin. And now that I’m older and wiser, I know better. I now know that gentle exfoliation is the way to go.
This is where Alpha Hydroxy Acids come into their own
These include Glycolic, citric, malic and lactic acids. These AHA’s will give a gentle, natural, chemical exfoliation by removing dead skin cells on the top layer of the skin. These also exfoliate very evenly over the skin rather than the more random physical version.
However, I should add that I still do like to have an occasional physical exfoliation but with much gentler products than I previously used. In truth, the dangers of abrasive exfoliation are now well known, and many brands offer very safe and gentle versions.
Getting back to AHA’s, they are a great option for exfoliation. They leave your skin feeling very soft, unclog pores and help to lessen pigmentation. Any product you put on afterwards will absorb better and therefore be more effective.
Don’t let the word acid fool you. This is not going to burn your skin off. It’s completely gentle on the skin. If you are very sensitive then Glycolic and Lactic Acid may cause slight irritation in which case go for Mandelic Acid.
So which AHA to go for?
Garden of Wisdom (GOW) has a fantastic range of all acids at ridiculously low prices. They average at an unbelievable £10. They are fantastic and cruelty free, suitable for vegetarians and free of alcohols and silicones.
These are the ones I either use and/or recommend:
I’m a fan of Glycolic Acid as it has the smallest molecules out of all the AHA’s and therefore does it’s work that bit deeper. It’s particularly good for dry or mature skin. The (GOW) glycolic acid is in it’s most natural form and is not synthetically derived as is often the case. It will help with fine lines and also acne scars as well as pigmentation.
Mandelic Acid is a very non-irritating one and therefore a good choice for sensitive skins. It has anti-bacterial properties and is particularly good for skin prone to acne or rosacea. It will deep cleanse and also nourish as this version also contains hyaluronic acid.
Lactic Acid is slightly gentler on the skin than Glycolic Acid (having said that I have never had any reaction myself to Glycolic Acid but we’re all different). It does all the same things ie exfoliating, helping to fade scars, targeting pigmentation and also enhances collagen production.
Finally there’s another very different kind of exfoliant, that’s also a food (actually a superfood) for the skin. It’s by skin guru Marie Reynolds and is called Restore.
This is truly magical stuff.
It’s a big pot of green powder (that will last for a very long time) and you add a teaspoon to a little water (or one of your favourite oils) and mix into a sludge and add to you face. You leave for 10-15 minutes and then slightly dampen and massage into your skin for a minute, before rinsing off. It feels quite exfoliating but this won’t harm your skin at all. It’s full of so many nutrients with healing powers that it can be used for all sorts of skin issues and injuries. It leaves your skin as soft and smooth as a baby.
The price range is very different on this one, but it lasts for ages (I use about once a week) and when you see the result, I feel sure you’ll no doubt feel it’s worth every penny.