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 (physically abrasive), 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.
West Elm Holiday mantel
Whether your Christmas style is modern, traditional or rustic, we found the best ideas on the internet to make your mantel merrier.
This mantel from Front + Main feels fresh and modern thanks to layered art pieces and the soft colour palette. See more here.
Reclaimed wood, burlap and the natural colour scheme give this mantel a rustic feel. The free printable bunting and paper bay leaf garland add a DIY touch. Find instructions at The Tomkat Studio.
This buffalo check themed mantel from Landeelu is a modern take on a traditional look with the on-trend string lights and charming felt garland. Find out how to make the DIY red-and-white painted circle at Landeelu.
The DIY elements, from the confetti gold artwork to the adorable painted houses come together for a bright, festive look. See all the details (including DIY instructions) at The Decor Fix.
Hanging a TV over your mantel doesn’t mean you can't decorate it in style. This display of candles and bottle brush trees adds a decorative touch without overwhelming the screen. Take a peek at the rest of Diane’s holiday decor (including beautifully wrapped packages) at In My Own Style.
A white Christmas may be a rare event in Vancouver, but that didn't stop Heather Cameron from giving her dining room mantel a pretty wintery feel. See more of Heather's winter wonderland here.
Over 50 and fabulous? Our guide to aging gracefully helps you choose the skincare, hair and makeup products that are right for you.
Pick out one of these international cookie recipes to make for this year's cookie exchange.
Snowy white cookies, double-rolled in icing sugar, melt in your mouth and, if you don't watch out, will deliciously dust your holiday outfit.
Get the recipe: Walnut White Chocolate Snowball Cookies
These beautiful cookies make for an elegant holiday gift. Bake them in small batches, keeping a watchful eye so they don't brown too quickly. To achieve the delicate curved shape, drape the cookies over a rolling pin while still warm.
Get the recipe: Crispy Maple Coconut Tuiles
Crystallized ginger and shredded coconut add a delightful twist to this traditional Jewish cookie. The savoury cream cheese dough complements the sweet jam filling, which caramelizes nicely as the pastries bake.
Get the recipe: Ginger and Coconut Rugelach
These crescent-shaped cookies of German origin are elegant with a drizzle of chocolate. Or dip half in chocolate or dust with icing sugar.
Get the recipe: Butterhorns
The special press needed to shape these unique cookies is easily found in kitchenware stores. You'll want to lightly grease it before using to prevent sticking. Give this Italian cookie recipe a try at your next family get-together.
Get the recipe: Pizzelle
These chewy cookies, with their spicy dough and brandy-tinged filling, are fun and impressive. Use the lightest-coloured figs you can find.
Get the recipe: Fig Pinwheels
These fragrantly spiced cookies originatefrom Holland, where they are enjoyed at the feast of Sinterklaas (S. Nicholas, a Dutch holiday character).
Get the recipe: Spiced Speculaas
These white cookies are truly pop-in-your-mouth delicious. If you like, roll them in more icing sugar for a thicker coat.
Get the recipe: Snowball Cookies
Traditionally served during the holidays and Chinese New Year, these crumbly melt-in-your-mouth cookies have three layers of almond flavour. Ground almonds add a hint of crunch, almond extract lends a sweet aroma and whole almonds make for a pretty garnish.
Get the recipe: Chinese Almond Cookies
Each of these almond shortbreads is studded with a whole clove, a symbol of the Magi's gift of spices to the Christ Child. Kourambiedes are served in the Greek community not only at Christmas, but also christenings, weddings, name days — in fact, at all festive occasions.
Get the recipe: Kourambiedes
These jam-filled sandwich cookies are based on one of Austria's most famous desserts, the Linzertorte. For soft, chewy cookies, assemble a day in advance. For crispier cookies, sandwich the same day as serving.
Get the recipe: Linzer Cookies
Rugalahs are one of the most requested Hanukkah cookies, now popular year-round. When the nut and fruit crescents bake, they ooze ever so slightly, and this rich filling gets crisp and caramel-like around the crescents.
Get the recipe: Rugalahs
This traditional Jewish holiday cookie gets a flavour makeover with the addition of chocolate malt and almonds.
Get the recipe: Chocolate Malted Rugalach
Get the recipe: Cranberry White Chocolate Biscotti
These tender, shortbread-like dulce de leche--filled sandwich cookies are popular in South and Central America.
Get the recipe: Mini Alfajores
Melted chocolate transforms classic madeleines into a truly exquisite treat. For the best texture, enjoy them the same day they're made.Get the recipe: Chocolate Almond Madeleines
These crispy cookies are far easier to make than you might think, thanks to our simple shaping trick (hint: it involves the rim of a glass!). Write your own personalized messages on notepaper and fold them into the cookies for a heartwarming end to a festive meal.
Get the recipe: Festive Fortune Cookies
These sweet and buttery cake-like cookies have slightly crisp outsides and perfectly tender centres. You'll find madeleine pans—the seashell-shaped moulds that give these French treats their signature shape—in specialty baking stores.
Get the recipe: Orange Blossom Madeleines