Combat uneven tone and texture with a small but mighty skin-saver: glycolic acid.
What is glycolic acid?
Glycolic acid is one of several alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs), which are naturally occurring chemicals found in foods such as sour milk, sugarcane, apples and citrus fruits. The glycolic acid in skin care, however, is uaually the synthetic form, which is more stable, ensuring better delivery to the skin. (Naturally derived formulas often go rancid or lose their potency faster than synthetic ones.) Glycolic acid's molecules are the smallest and lightest of all AHAs, so they're able to penetrate the skin more easily. "You don't need a major concentration to have long-lasting efficacy," says Pascale Mora, the scientific communications director for Vichy International. Using even a small concentration (three percent or lower) can yield results. With continuous use, glycolic acid can reduce the appearance of wrinkles, improve uneven skin tone and lessen breakouts, leading to younger- and healthier-looking skin.
In the simplest terms, glycolic acid acts as an exfoliant, removing dead skin and stimulating skin-cell renewal. "It helps reduce skin dullness, unclog pores and reveal radiant skin by getting rid of older cells at the surface of the skin," says Eric Dupont, the founder of IDC, a Quebec-based skin-care brand. The results? Glycolic acid leaves skin soft and smooth; over time, it works at the cellular level, boosting collagen production.
Finding your formula
Products containing glycolic acid may cause itchy, tight or red blotches for some people (usually those with sensitive skin). According to Dr. Dennis Gross, a New York City-based dermatologist and the founder of Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare, "Irritation is directly related to the concentration of the acid." But no matter your skin type, Dr. Gross recommends mixing a lower-concentration glycolic acid with other anti-aging ingredients, such as malic and lactic acids, instead of jumping to a higher concentration of glycolic acid on its own. Start with a more quickly absorbed glycolic formula, such as a peel, an exfoliant or a toner, with a concentration of 10 percent or less.
Glycolic acid is most effective when paired with other active ingredients. To fight acne and reduce shine look for a product containing both glycolic and salicylic acids, or brighten an uneven skin tone with a mix of vitamin C and glycolic acid. For an extra dose of anti-aging benefits, pair glycolic acid with either lactic acid, malic acid or lip hydroxy acid, which unblocks pores so that exfoliation is more effective. There's room to play. The two rules to follow? Moisturize your skin generously and apply sunscreen daily. (But you should already be doing that.)
Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHAs): A group of water-soluable acids—including glycolic, citric, lactic, malic and tartaric acids—that are found in foods and can remove dead skin cells from the surface of the skin.
Glycolic acid: With the smallest and lightest molecules of any AHA, glycolic acid easily penetrates the dermis, making it the most effective AHA for skin-care purposes.
Lactic acid: An AHA derived from sour milk, lactic acid is best known for lightening and brightening the skin.
Malic acid: Found in fruit, particularly apples, this AHA helps minimize the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.
Salicylic acid: A lipid-soluable beta hydroxy acid best known for its ability to fight acne.
Vitamin C: Also known as ascorbic acid, vitamin C promotes collagen production in the skin and is a potent antioxidant.
This triple-action mask exfoliates with mechanical (physical exfoliation), enzymatic and chemical actions. Add it to your skin-care routine once per week for radiant, smooth skin.
Perfect for blemish-prone skin, this cleansing gel unclogs pores and promotes cell turnover with salicylic and glycolic acids.
Brighten dull skin with this mask that contains glycolic acid, rejuvenating papaya enzyme and brightening Viniferine for an instant touch of radiance.
Five-percent glycolic acid, this toner also has soothing aloe vera and skin-renewing ginseng for revitalized, glowing skin—at a seriously affordable price.
This overnight treatment contains glycolic and salicylic acids and niacinamide (an anti-inflammatory); the combo helps unclog pores and tackle blackheads while lifting away dead skin cells.
This two-step peel is ideal for sensitive skin and first-time glycolic-acid users. With a blend of alpha and beta hydroxy acids, it fights three signs of aging: fine lines, enlarged pores and uneven skin texture.
The actress and activist chats with us from the Cannes Film Festival about beauty and aging.
Perhaps you were first introduced to Susan Sarandon as scene-stealing Janet in The Rocky Horror Picture Show or as half of one of the greatest on-screen female duos ever in Thelma & Louise. Or maybe you're most familiar with Sarandon's activism around issues of climate change, the death penalty and economic inequality. Whatever the reason you took notice, the megastar and brand ambassador for L'Oréal Paris is fascinating. She spoke with us about life as an actor, her beauty routine and how to age gracefully.
What are your favourite roles to take on?
I like to play characters who are reaching out in some way to another human—it's the bravest thing you can go. I'm interested in those stories, whether it's the relationship between a nun and a convict, a love story between two women or the connection between a woman and a child. I try to not repeat myself. Even if I've played other mothers, they're all different.
L'Oreal Age Perfect
How is the perception of women over the age of 50 changing?
Being 50, 60 or 70 doesn't mean the same thing as it did when I was 20. There are a lot of great gals who are working, who are fun, sassy and beautiful, and who happen to be over 60. They're great-looking and full of energy, and they're living longer—and there's a lot of us!
What made you want to work with L'Oréal Paris?
I love the ethnic and age diversity that L'Oréal has shown in its choice of brand ambassadors. And the idea—do it for yourself because you're worth it—was a huge breakthrough. I really respect that kind of thinking.
What beauty routine do you follow?
I don't smoke cigarettes, I drink lots of water, I exercise. Everything else, I do moderately. I don't really drink, I try to always take my makeup off at night and I use moisturizer, sunscreen and a little dab of lip balm. That's about it.
As you've gotten older, how have your views on beauty and aging changed?
I think you have to spend your time on, and worry about, more important things. Gravity exists; there's no way around it. As you get older, you have to look at aging differently because comparisons and criticisms are suddenly thrown in your face. There are a lot of people who are aging quire gracefully; I think it's about putting the emphasis on what's inside.
Over 50 and fabulous? Our guide to aging gracefully helps you choose the skincare, hair and makeup products that are right for you.
Eat these foods when you're under the weather. Image by: Getty Images
Eat these foods and drinks when you're sick with the flu to feel better faster.
Beauty resolutions Image by: Getty Images
The Canadian Living team shares some resolutions for 2017—all with a focus on beauty.
When it comes to making New Year's resolutions, it can seem like a waste. Either the resolution is too abstract ("be happier"), too daunting ("learn a new language") or too vague ("lose weight"). While putting big things on your bucket list is something we recommend (dream big!), we also know that the more achievable your resolution is, the more likely you are to keep it. Which is why this year, the Canadian Living team is looking to make small changes to our beauty routines that will have a positive (and in some cases immediate) impact on how we look and feel. Read on to find out what our staff is looking to achieve this year.
Alexandra Tanner, Contributing Art Director
“I would really like to remember to take my vitamins—beauty starts from the inside after all.”
Jennifer Danter, Acting Executive Food Editor
“I don’t usually wear makeup, but now that I’m back in an office setting where everyone looks so stylish I want to up my game. My beauty resolution is to learn how to wear makeup that looks natural—so I’m starting by looking into BB Creams and foundation.”
Estee Lauder DayWear Multi-Perfecting Beauty Benefit BB Crème SPF 35, $35, beautyboutique.ca.
Stacy Lee Kong, Senior Editor
“My 2017 beauty resolution is to make this the year I finally learn how to apply eyeliner without looking like a raccoon! (To be fair, this has been my beauty resolution since 2003… So I’ll let you know how it goes.)”
Linda Cotrina, Web Producer
“I’ve heard time and time again how important sunscreen is to one’s overall beauty regimen which is why I’ve made applying sunscreen everyday my ultimate beauty goal for 2017. First Aid Beauty’s Ultra Repair Pure Mineral Sunscreen Moisturizer is my go-to product—it has all the benefits of sunscreen (UVA and UVB protection) while still keeping your skin moisturized. The added bonus? It’s vegan and cruelty-free!”
First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Pure Mineral Sunscreen Moisturizer, $37, sephora.com.
Sandi Pilon, Senior Associate Art Director
“I’m in my 30’s and I often forget to moisturize my face at night, so my resolution is to get serious about a beauty regime. I’m going to be diligent about applying face and eye cream that is suited to my age.”
Julia McEwen, Fashion & Beauty Director
“Now that I’ve started to settle into my 30’s I’m ready to get serious about introducing anti-aging skin care into my daily routine. The hero ingredient of this category is retinol. It’s a vitamin A derivative that fights wrinkles, dullness and dark spots. One side effect it’s also known for is that it can be tricky to introduce and in some cases can cause irritation if you have highly reactive skin (which is what I have). That’s why I’m keen on trying this treatment from skin therapist to the stars, Kate Somerville. It combines oxygen with retinol, which means it’s super hydrating while still fighting off the signs of aging—the perfect retinol gateway product."
Kate Somerville Dermal Quench Liquid Lift Retinol, $130, sephora.com.
Sarah Gunn, Home & Garden Director
“I’m not one to make resolutions, but this year I do want to start taking better care of my skin. I plan on experimenting more with face masks and moisturizers.”
Alexandra Donaldson, Fashion & Beauty Contributor
"The past couple of years I've really upped my beauty game by settling into a skin-care regime, wearing sunscreen every day and paying attention to what my skin needs (usually moisture). This year, I'm hoping to focus in on products that work for me and to pay more attention to ingredient labels. Hopefully these two resolutions will let me streamline my skin-care products and only apply good-for-me ingredients to my complexion."
Renee Reardin, Interim Digital Direction
"I resolve to eat more superfoods to help me attain that glowing complexion we're all after. Eating a diet that's rich in antioxidants, vitamin C, healthy fats, amino acids and collagen can help skin look its best, so I'll be loading up on foods like avocados, blueberries and turmeric."