Most of us know Proactiv from infomercials touting its three-step skin care system. But did you know there's an entire Proactiv product line? Yep. It's just extremely hard to find, but you can order by phone (888-819-2019) if you're so inclined. One item in particular is worth tracking down. I recently had a facial that used Proactiv's Pore Refining Peel ($20), and my complexion looked practically poreless afterward. It's due to the formula's glycolic acid, which exfoliates all the dead, dull skin. Whether you have acne or not, glycolic acid is one of those ingredients that — when used judiciously — gives skin that glowy, fresh look. You'll feel mild stinging when applying the peel, but the results are well worth it. And at $20 for 15 treatments, your wallet won't feel too much of a sting, either.
I'm a little obsessive when it comes to having healthy skin, and although Differin has cleared up most of my acne, I still didn't have that glow that I've been seeking. So on Saturday, I went to a med-spa to discuss my options. After looking at my skin, the esthetician suggested Jan Marini Bioglycolic cleanser (about $30). Now, normally I'd never spend this much for a cleanser, but because I don't currently have a glycolic acid product in my daily regimen, I decided to give it a whirl.
After just a few days, I'm hooked. This is already making a difference. I'm starting to have that shiny-but-not-oily glow that I covet, and my skin feels soft and smooth. And even though it doesn't irritate my skin, know that this is serious stuff: the cleanser contains 12% glycolic acid, which is a pretty hefty concentration. To use the cleanser, you put a small amount on dry skin — it can't be wet — and massage it into skin for about a minute before rinsing.
I was worried that a glycolic product would be too harsh for my skin, especially considering my Differin use, but it's been great so far. If you're dealing with dull skin and regular exfoliants aren't doing much for you, I would definitely try this cleanser. Or for a more affordable version, try Aqua Glycolic Facial Cleanser ($14.49). Although I haven't used it, the ingredient list is nearly identical, with only a slightly less potent percentage of glycolic acid. Give either of these a try; I'm almost positive you'll have great results!
Glycolic acid is considered a natural fruit acid (it comes from sugar cane) as well as an alpha-hydroxy acid. It is used to remove heavy rust and grease from metal materials, but it is better known for reducing the buildup of dead skin cells.
In addition, it draws moisturizers into the skin and is commonly recommended for use in combination with a toner and cream to create an even, smooth, and more youthful-looking complexion. It often creates a tingling sensation on skin, but it shouldn't be painful upon application.
There is a bit of controversy surrounding glycolic acid because of its potential dangers. (Remember, it's also used to remove rust from metal!) If the concentrations are too high, it can cause serious burns. Also, skin becomes sensitive to sunlight, so a high SPF is necessary when going outside. Have you ever tried any products containing glycolic acid? If so, were the results worth it?