Not too long ago my skin decided to have a not so fun hormonal breakout, which I think was exacerbated by eating too much sugar. The breakouts were so bad that I had to dig out my Laura Mercier Secret Camoflage to try to hide what I could, and even that didn't help much. I couldn't get blush to blend well - it would only end up looking uneven because of the spotty patches that would show through, and UGH I was frustrated after being so happy with where my skin was before.
Up to this point, my main method to battle breakouts had been to avoid ingredients/products that clog and irritate my skin, with the occasional preventative treatment mask, spot treatment or acid. However, after watching a few skincare routine videos and a couple of dermTVdotcom videos where Dr. Schultz talks about glycolic acid, I started to realize that perhaps I needed a different approach.
And what approach would that be?? Here's what I came up with:
- Be more aggressive about using preventative treatments/products - I feel the largest part of my approach has been avoidance (you know, avoiding that certain cream or oil I know causes clogs & whatnot) with only a sprinkling of preventative treatments. Now I feel I should put at least an equal effort into preventative measures...because even though a good deal of what I now experience is hormonal, that doesn't mean I have to give it an environment to thrive it. Quite the opposite - I'm looking to give it as little chance of surviving as possible.
- Get serious about treating my skin in terms of different zones - For the past many years my skin has been pretty consistent with being somewhat oily to oily in my nose and chin area, and normal to Sahara Desert dry on my cheeks and forehead. I've dabbled in treating these areas differently by layering multiple products on my dry areas, or using a mask just on my oily bits...but for the most part nothing is super consistent and I've still been thinking of my face as one big face. But not anymore - I'm now trying to treat my skin according to the different needs of each area/zone.
- Go back to consuming less sugar - I used to be a hard core sugar freak. Cherry pie with homemade whipped cream for breakfast, baked quite often and craaaaaaaaaaved all the rich and chocolatey yummies I could think of. No Krispy Kreme was getting by me! But somehow over the past couple of years my sweet tooth isn't so strong anymore, to the point where I rarely bake and generally have a dessert only because it's there and even then it's only a few bites. Um, at least until a few months ago - got into the habit of consuming more soda, tea (laden with sugar and French Vanilla fake creamer & lots of it) and desserts every night - oh and eating all of said dessert!! I even started kinda craving things! 'm convinced this increase in sugar contributed to my acne being worse than it would have been (ok, it's kind of a long winded explanation that I'll save for another post!), and over the past month or so have slowly been weaning myself to get back to where I was.
OL ok, so back to the whole point of this post...to share a few products I've added to my arsenal for my new attack plan!! Glycolic acid is the name of this game, and so far I've been very impressed. While I've tried a few products here and there that contain glycolic, I haven't really given it much of a chance over the long term. Why glycolic? Because it's a gentle way to exfoliate and help renew the skin, which is a good way to help with aging issues and to also help prevent cell build up that can lead to clogged pores.
***All items purchased by me. Non-affiliate links included.
A thicker gel cleanser with 10% glycolic and 2% salicylic acids, not to be used on the eye area! This is a foaming gel cleanser, but the foam isn't thick and luxurious - the foam seems more like an afterthought rather than a claim to fame. Fine by me, I don't need a ton of lather because I'm more concerned with cleansers actually cleaning my skin and also not leaving a film. This isn't marketed as a makeup remover, so I always use a pre cleanse before using this. I have used Gly/Sal on days I only wear powder and it definitely removes it, but I wouldn't count on it to clean up a full face.
Why I like this so much? It removes oil and makes my skin feel very clean without making my oily bits feel dry. And on days I feel my forehead and cheeks are running drier than normal, I'll use something a little more emollient on those areas but will still use Gly/Sal on my nose and chin. So it contains a great acid duo, green tea extract...all three ingredients that are part of a pretty simple ingredient list, and you know how much I like that!! So far I'm very happy about this addition to my cleanser stash! Oh, and for those that are concerned about fragrance...this does have added fragrance, something I'd rather wish it didn't have, but I find the fragrance very subtle and more on the medicinal side.
What else makes this a keeper? The price - it normally runs around $21 for almost 7 oz, which I think is a really good deal. It's an even better deal if you can catch it on sale...sites like SkincareRx.com are constantly running sales - I managed to snag it for over 20% off with an additional % in reward points.
Glycolix Gly/Sal 10-2 Cleanser ingredients:
Active Ingredient: Salicylic Acid 2%, 10% Glycolic Acid
Other Ingredients: Green Tea Leaf Extract, Cocamidopropyl Betaine, Disodium EDTA, Fragrance, Glycolic Acid, Linoleamidopropyl PG-Dimonium Chloride Phosphate, Polysorbate-20, Purified Water, Red 40, Sodium C12-15 Pareth-15 Sulfonate, Sodium C14-16 Olefin Sulfonate, Triethanolamine, Yellow 5, Zinc PCA
Glycolix Elite also has 10% and 20% glycolic acid pads. The 10% ones were out of stock when I placed my order, so I went ahead and purchased these 15% ones and the 20% to step up with once the 15% ran out. I figured I'd be ok with the 15% since my skin was used to the Skin Beautiful 15% Mandelic-Lactic Acid Exfoliator, but I still started with every 3rd night just to be sure. Then I stepped up to every other night, and then 2 nights in a row with 1 night off. Now I rotate it with the Alpha H Liquid Gold and end up using it about 2 nights/week.
I do find these pads mildly moisturizing to the point where nights I use this I don't feel the need to moisturize my oily areas. These have definitely helped speed the fading of post acne marks, and I've also noticed that my chin area is less clogged. My skin also feels a bit more bouncy, if that makes any sense?
In addition to the glycolic acid, these pads also contain Witch Hazel (purifying) and CoQ10 (helps with lines and wrinkles)...and guess what...all included in another fairly simple ingredient list. As a note, these do contain menthol and acetone which might bother some people, so proceed with caution. Like other Glycolix products, these pads are reasonably priced at around $27/60 pads - I managed to snag them during the same sale as the Gly/Sal Cleanser so they were even cheaper. And once I'm finished with this container, I'm really curious to see how much of a difference the 20% Treatment Pads make?? If you are interested, you can check out Dr. Schultz's video of Progressive Exfoliation HERE.
These pads come highly saturated - wet enough to cover my face and neck and to go over some areas twice. They are also very soft. I apply these after cleansing, but before serum, moisturizer or oil.
Glycolix Elite Treatment Pads 15% ingredients:
Purified Water, Glycolic Acid, Witch Hazel, Ammonium Hydroxide, Polysorbate 20, Phospholipids, retinyl Palmitate, Tocopheryl Acetate, Ascorbyl Palmitate, Coenzyme Q10, Disodium EDTA, Sodium Benzoate, Menthol, Acetone, Imidazolidinyl Urea
I've read about this on an off over the past couple of years, but didn't decide to take the plunge until Makeup Remastered convinced me I should try it. I had been telling her my skincare woes, and she said this is was of her favorite products! The big thing that got me was that she said it made her skin SOFT. Ok, yes please!
She wasn't lying. Out of anything else I've tried this has made my skin the softest...like I can't stop touching it soft (I'm guessing due to the combo of hydrolyzed silk & glycolic)...even when I wash my face I can't believe how wonderful it feels. I can't tell much of a difference between Alpha H and the Glycolix Elite Treatment Pads 15% - except that the Alpha H makes my skin oh-so-soft. However, I've been rotating these 2 treatments because in my head I feel like the Glycolix Elite pads are a little more potent because of the higher % of glycolic acid...that's not proven or anything, but again in my head I feel like I'm getting the most out of both by rotating.
Ooops, forgot to mention this has the consistency of water, so I have decanted it into a small amber dropper bottle. To apply, I pour some out onto the Renee Rouleau Toning Cloths to reduce product waste. I apply this after cleanser, but before serum, moisturizer or oil.
What I haven't said yet, is that so far after using both products I can FINALLY see the pigmentation on my cheeks (both hypo and hyper) breaking up on my cheeks. Seriously this is such a major breakthrough for me, and one that I've struggled with for a long time. My pigmentation problems have significantly faded over the past few years, but awhile back I felt like I had plateaued and nothing seemed to help get me over the hump. Until now. I don't know if the pigmentation issues will completely subside without going the Rx route, but at this point I'll take whatever help I can get. Have I mentioned how much more perky and awake my skin looks?! It's also easy to target just my acne prone areas with both of these products, you know for days that the rest of my face needs a break. I really couldn't be happier! Oh, and yes...absolutely yes this duo has really help clear up my skin. Though I'm not 100% back to where I was, I can see the light! Ha ha :-)
And as a big side note, using glycolic acid products does make you more sensitive to the sun so it's really important to wear a good sunscreen. Despite my lamentations, I think I may have finally found a sunscreen that works well for me (THANK YOU, Daria!!!), and I'm sure that has helped with the pigmentation issues too!! A little more testing is needed, but when I've finally worked it out I'll update the sunscreen find in another post.
Back to Alpha H Liquid Gold...it is hard to get a hold of in the US, but I ended up purchasing from Cult Beauty - they offer free worldwide shipping (except China) for orders over £50. If you don't spend that amount, shipping to the US is £4.95, and if you want FedEx tracked shipping it's only £15 for any size order (see prices for other countries HERE). When I placed my order they were having a special for free FedEX over a certain amount, so watch out for those specials (click HERE for their special offers page). I was charged a small foreign transaction fee, so that is something to consider. But overall, I was very happy with the service and shipping and definitely wouldn't hesitate to buy from Cult Beauty again :-)
Alpha H Liquid Gold ingredients - and again with the simple ingredient list?!!!
Aqua, Alcohol Denat, Glycolic Acid, Glycerin, Hydrolyzed Silk, Glycyrrhiza Glabra (Licorice) Root Extract, Potassium Hydroxide, Phenoxyethanol, Caprylyl Glycol
Overall, I'm one happy camper with my glycolic acid additions!!! It's so nice to get my skin back on track and can't wait to see what continued use of these products will do...