by ZOE FOSTER
Q: I’m 42 with wrinkles and pigmentation. A beauty therapist friend of mine said I shouldn’t be using a cleanser, serum and night cream with AHAs as it’s too strong but I am seeing results and don’t want to stop! – Jenny
It’s terrible when advice conflicts. I know this because pretty much every skin therapist, dermatologist and skin care creator I meet has conflicting ideas on what to use, when to use it, how to use it, and whether you should wait until the third use to kiss, or later.
But I think they would all agree on the fact that you are DEFINITELY going too hard on your skin with that triple sandwich.
URGENT IN-COPY GLOSSARY INTERRUPTION:
AHA stands for Alpha-Hydroxy Acids, a group that include glycolic acid, (from sugar cane) lactic acid (milk… Cleopatra knew what she was doing with those milk baths) and citric acid (uh, citrus). Glycolic is lauded as the “best” and “most effective” because its molecules are smaller and so it penetrates the skin quicker and easier, but lactic acid is now being said to be best, because it’s gentler and with longer-lasting results. AHAs are moisturising, but are mostly referred to as a ‘chemical exfoliant’ because they gently dissolve the glue that holds dead skin cells on the surface of the skin, without the need for physical exfoliation. (ie: scrubbing.)
AHAs are terrifically effective on oily or congested skin, acne, wrinkles, general skin texture and tone (pigmentation) – in fact, I’d say AHAs are probably the most useful and results-y skin care ingredient around, so long as you don’t have sensitive skin. Except for Retin-A, which is the King of anti-ageing, and which I will post on another time.
For those interested, I use a glycolic-acid based toner three times a week. For those not interested, don’t read that last sentence.
The thing about AHAs, though, Jenny, is that they’re strong. (They cause irritation for a lot of people when they start – when you began, you were probably advised to start every second day for a few weeks, then building up to daily, yeah?) This is why you’re seeing results, and why you’re a fan, but you are very likely over-stimulating your skin. You might be duplicating ingredients unnecessarily, or forcing some together which are not compatible, or just loading your skin with far too much. Using a glycolic acid cleanser, then a glycolic serum, then a lactic acid moisturiser means you are effectively performing a chemical peel each night.