The beauty panel: Acid House
You have nothing to fear from skincare acids, says Sarah Caden, and your skin will reap the rewards rapidly
Acids are the kind of skincare ingredient that were once the stronghold of salon treatments, but are now becoming a mainstay of our regular, at-home routines. We have become more au fait and less afraid of the various acids, and this trickle-down effect also means that they are more easily obtained and less expensive. It's win-win, particularly because skin-friendly acids are one of those rare things that make a real and discernible difference to the complexion.
Loss of radiance is far more ageing than wrinkles or lines. Now, radiance is a word much bandied about these days, but it sums up that fresh, even, and slightly shiny appearance of young skin. One way to claw back a bit of it, is to get your acid on. Friendly acids that gobble up dead skin cells and plump up the live ones with moisture are glycolic, lactic, citric and others. Regular use, the makers claim, will reduce hyperpigmentation and roughness. Hyaluronic acid is everywhere these days, and it increases cells' ability to hold water and plump up. Aside from the benign hyaluronic friend, most acids will leave skin sun-sensitive, so if you want to see smoothness without sun-damage, remember to slap on the SPF.
Pixi Skintreats Glow Peel Pads, €31, Marks & Spencer beauty halls, or see cloud10beauty.com
While the instructions on these 60 lotion-infused pads say you can use them nightly, we recommend that you build up slowly. You'll see an effect quickly, though, as the glycol acid exfoliates, and also seems to bump up the effect of your chosen night cream. The rose water plays a soothing role. But make sure to wash off the lotion after a few minutes, to stop the acid becoming an irritant. "My morning pillow-face was much improved," said one panellist. "I was generally less crumpled-looking."
Best Mask Magic
Ren Glycolactic Radiance Renewal Mask, €35, Marks and Spencer beauty halls; selected pharmacies nationwide
This mask has a lot of acid going on. It has alpha-hydroxy acids (AHAs) in the form of glycolic, lactic, citric and tartaric acids, all of which perform a gentle peel. Then it has papain and pineapple extracts, which also nibble dead cells. It's not an industrial-strength mask that will strip your face off, but it will restore glow. "This is a honey-like goo that tingles a bit, and washes off to reveal a fresh face," said one panellist. "I got that good-night's-sleep effect."
Best loving lotion
Kiehl's Iris Extract Activating Treatment Essence, €40, Arnotts; Kiehl's shops, 35 Wicklow St, D2, and Dundrum Town Centre, D16
This toner-like lotion is in line with the Korean-led trend for using multiple products morning and night. And multiple means more than 10. But if that's too much for you, this is a product worth adding to your regime. With lipo-hydroxy acid, which helps to clear pores and gently exfoliate, think of this a prep for whatever else you put on top. It also includes moisture-boosting hyaluronic acid. "It's refreshing on the skin," said a panellist, "but I also had increased softness and smoothness."
Best Simply Smoothing
Decleor Proalgene Lift Youth Concentrate, €74, selected Decleor salons nationwide
This is a Panel favourite for being very easy to use and very effective. With AHAs to even out dullness-causing hyperpigmentation and smooth the skin's surface, it also has iris essential oil, which claims to boost cell renewal, and an ingredient called L-proline complex, which could help elasticity. "This is a doddle to use; just wipe some on with cotton wool after cleansing and then clean it off after five minutes," said a panellist. "The results are as instant and obvious as any salon treatment."
Best mild mask
Nuxe Nuxuriance Ultra Re-Plumping Roll-On Mask, €39.25, Arnotts, D1; selected pharmacies nationwide
This mask contains a whole lot of hyaluronic acid, along with saffron and bougainvillea extracts, both of which claim to promote production of new cells. Hyaluronic acid is a wonder ingredient that replaces a naturally occurring element in your skin, which we all lose as we age. It helps cells to hold water, making the skin appear more firm. Temporarily, but so what? "I love the metal roller-ball applicator," said a panellist. "The cooling effect gives a lovely massage."
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