Category: Beauty

A guide to glycolics

Skincare acids have gotten a bad rep in the past (think Samantha’s face peel in Sex And The City). However, unlike earlier doctor-prescribed versions, today’s modern formulations are light, effective and safe for at home use.

The most common acids are alpha hydroxy acids (glycolic, lactic, and citric) and beta hydroxy acids (namely salicylic). As I’m a nervous newcomer to acids, I’ve asked skin expert Jennifer Rock, aka The Skin Nerd, to tell us why the superhero glycolic acid should form an essential part of your skincare routine.

Why do I need an acid?
Jen says: “Glycolic acid is a well-respected ingredient in skincare. It’s often a derivative of sugar cane and has the ability to slough off and slowly dissolve the weaker dead skin cells from the healthier skin cells below the surface of the skin.”

At what age should I start?
Jen reveals: “The honest reality is that from the age of 25 onwards, our natural cell turnover cycle slows and so we may depend on external elements to help our desire for brightening and softening the skin.”

I have sensitive skin. Can I still use acids?
“I would be wary of stripping the skin due to our Irish weather and environment; we are prone to harsh elements, which lead to irritation and sensitivity which a glycolic addiction could exacerbate. Similarly, it can make the skin sensitive to light, regardless of the time of year. All that said, the results are undeniable and addictive when advised and used correctly.”

Does the percentage of acid matter? 
“Acids in dosages such as 3-5% are deemed mild, while clinical products will encourage 10% for home use and stronger for in-clinic procedures. My personal favourite at the moment is the NeoStrata Glycolic Lotion (€29.50).”

And now for TBI’s recommendations…


Image Ageless Total Overnight Masque €89
I’ve been on a bit of an Image buzz for a while now (a post is long overdue) and this has been one of my staples. The masque features glycolic (obvs) and is literally like beauty sleep in a tub. As it’s extremely effective, I usually only apply this once a week and am sure to wear a high SPF the following day.


Alpha H Liquid Gold, €35.95
I have been extremely hesitant to use this but since discovering Vichy’s version (see below), I’ve been trying this out. Again this is an extremely effective glycolic so I use this with caution (once a week) and with plenty of SPF the day after. It does leave skin soft and glowing and the results are undeniable.


Vichy Idealia Night Peeling Care, €35.95
I’m utterly obsessed with this (as you can see from the emptying bottle) and already have a new bottle lined up and ready to go. Formulated with blueberry polyphenol, fermented black tea and glycolic acid, it gives skin a real boost.

I’ve been using this primarily on my T-zone every night and my blackheads and troublesome pores in that area are virtually non-existent. Vichy claims it’s safe for sensitive skins and daily use but again with all gylcolics, I’d use this every other day when starting out.

So ladies, are you a fan of glycolics?


*PR sample. For more on Jennifer and her work, visit T

Nidia Tetrault