Never exfoliated your face using acids before? Timid about the whole thing? You’ve come to the right place! Up until just recently (about five weeks to be exact) I had nearly zero experience with chemical exfoliators. To be fair I’m not much better now, but I do have a *bit* more experience to share after I recently added glycolic acid to my routine.
But first, a little background. Years ago I bought the cult-favorite Pixi Glow Tonic, and just didn’t get on with it. It stung my skin – which can unfortunately happen with chemical exfoliators – but to be honest I really didn’t know what I was doing with it, or how to correctly use it. It mystified me, like a lot of skincare did, so I just stopped cold. Needless to say, exfoliating was a step I rarely ever took or spent much time thinking about.
Fast forward a few years, and I receive a container of 60 Sephora Collection Glow Peel Pads in an event gift bag. So, I think to myself, let’s give this another go. And that’s exactly what I’ve done.
*Before getting into what I do, and the experience I’ve had with glycolic acid, I just want to add a disclaimer. This is not meant to be a big reference post on glycolic or other exfoliating acids; I’m not a professional, nor very educated on acids. I’m just sharing my experience in the hopes you can glean some insights, especially if you are, like me, a beginner with exfoliation.
WHAT IS GLYCOLIC ACID, PLUS WHY I USE IT
Glycolic is what is called an alpha-hydroxy acid. Besides sloughing off dead skin, its primary purpose in skincare is to reduce skin texture, increase smoothness, reduce fine lines, and even out tone. The highest concentration of glycolic I’ve seen in skincare products on the shelf is 20%. Admittedly, I can’t seem to find the concentration level in these Sephora Glow Peel Pads I’ve been using, but from other similar-type products I see on the market it appears the most popular level is 10%. For reference, the Pixi Glow Tonic contains 5% glycolic.If you’d like to read up more on acids, and find which one may best suit your skin I highly suggest reading this Healthline article.
It’s important to know that irritation can occur with glycolic – this is a universal truth with most beauty products – so make sure to start slowly, or do a patch test beforehand. Glycolic is also known to make skin more sensitized to the sun, so if you’re going to use it during the day, make sure you apply your SPF generously before going outside.
Personally I’m using glycolic to even out my skin’s texture, and to get rid of the build-up of dead skin cells particularly around my nose. I don’t have much of a problem with blemishes, acne or hyper-pigmentation. My skin type is dry and dehydrated, and my main concerns are redness, sensitivity and the occasional eczema flare-up. So hopefully you can understand now why I was hesitant for a long time about incorporating acids.
SOME OF MY SPF POSTS
HOW I’VE ADDED GLYCOLIC ACID TO MY SKINCARE ROUTINE
First off, I use these Sephora Glow Peel Pads only once a week. Depending on your skin’s tolerance to glycolic you may be able to use them more frequently. Everyone’s skin will be different in this regard, so do what’s right for you. Considering I have dry and sometimes sensitive skin, once a week is the absolute limit for me right now. Secondly, while you can apparently use these pads either in the morning or at night, I tend to exfoliate in the morning. Not sure why, I just do! Thirdly, I always apply a very generous layer of serum on afterwards which I find helps calm my skin and of course hydrate. (If you’re curious, this serum is in my current rotation and I ADORE it!)
I take one pad and gently skim it across the entirety of my face, applying a bit more pressure in the areas I want to concentrate on (i.e. nose and around the nose), but making sure to steer well clear of my eyes or my under-eye area. Within less than a minute I start to feel a tingly sensation; it’s in no way a horrible sting, or something overly unpleasant, but it’s something I can definitely feel. Within another half-minute to a minute, I do start to look a bit like Rudolph: my nose goes red as well as the area surrounding my nose. I was shocked the first time this happened, and slightly terrified I had overdone it, but the redness dissipates after about 10-15 minutes.
This is what I’ve noticed since I started incorporating glycolic acid into my skincare routine. My skin feels and looks incredibly smooth and bright, and my makeup applies like absolute butter. Especially the first day or two after I’ve exfoliated, oh my goodness; whatever foundation I put over top just glidessss on! It’s amazing.
RELATED SKINCARE POSTS
I have noticed on one or two occasions that on the day I exfoliate, and even into the next day, my skin can feel sensitized. For me this means a slight tightness and a slight sting, although it’s subtle and not overly awful. I’m not sure if this means my skin can’t completely tolerate glycolic, or if I need to space out my exfoliations even more. I think I will start experimenting with it every 10 days as opposed to every 6 to 7 days, and see how that goes. I’m not ready to completely give up on it yet!
Do you exfoliate your skin regularly? If so, do you use physical or chemical exfoliators? I’ve love to know!
xo, and be well, Erica