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The Skin-Boosting AHA Formulas You Need

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Photography: Emma Palmer

If you’re into your skincare you’ve probably heard of both AHAs (and BHAs) – they’re both skin-boosting acids. AHAs (alpha hydroxy acids, if you didn’t know) work to dissolve the bonds that hold together dead skin cells and pave the way for brighter looking skin. If dull, lacklustre skin is a concern for you, carry on reading as you’ll probably want to add an AHA to your routine.

The two most common AHAs are glycolic acid and lactic acid. The former is the stronger of the two and is great for refining, smoothing and tackling hyper pigmentation. Lactic acid is gentler and therefore better for more sensitive skin. It is also a moisture-locking humectant which means it’s ideal for drier skin too. Some formulas often use a combination of both for prime results. Here are six of our favourites…



The All-Rounder

NEW U Beauty Resurfacing Compound

Favoured by the beauty insiders, this is one of the most talked about skincare brands right now. Packed with AHAs, retinol, hyaluronic acid, antioxidants, vitamins and peptides, this game-changing formula was what put U Beauty on the map. Not only does this lotion resurface and brighten your skin, it also tightens and re-balances. One or two pumps after your evening cleanse is all you need. 


The Overnight Exfoliator

NEW Summer Fridays Soft Reset AHA Exfoliating Solution

This three-in-one treatment works to exfoliate, brighten and reduce pore size overnight thanks to its concentrated solution of 16% AHAs. With both lactic and glycolic acid, it helps to promote cell turnover and lift away any dead skin. We promise you’ll wake up with smoother, fresher feeling skin.

If you have dry-to-combination skin, layer your usual night cream or moisturiser on top. Avoid using vitamin C or retinol based formulas though. 



The Clarifying Mask

Herbivore Blue Tansy Resurfacing Clarity Mask

Fusing natural AHAs (fruit enzymes) and BHAs (white willow bark), this gentle formula suits even the most sensitive of skin. Leave the mask on for five-to-10 minutes to help reduce breakouts and blocked pores. We’ve noticed it helps reduce redness and excess oil too. For the best results, pop this on before you jump into the shower or bath as the steam helps to open your pores. 


The Supercharged Cleanser

Murad AHA/BHA Exfoliating Cleanser

Not only does this help to give a really deep and effective cleanse, it also takes a two-pronged approach to exfoliation. While salicylic, lactic and glycolic acids provide a chemical exfoliation, biodegradable jojoba beads physically help to slough away dry, dead skin. The result? Smoother, brighter skin.

We love this as a night time cleanse two to three times a week. If you want to make the glycolic acid work harder, apply the cleanser on dry skin first. Those with sensitive skin should always use on wet skin. 

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The Lightweight Lotion

Paula’s Choice 8% AHA Lotion Exfoliant

A wise choice for those with drier skin, this lightweight lotion uses 8% glycolic acid to promote radiance by ridding dead skin cells without causing dryness. In fact, the formula is super moisturising and helps to boost your skin’s hydration. It can be used both morning and night before your moisturiser.


The Brightening Serum

Malin + Goetz Resurfacing Face Serum

It your skin is looking a little dull now that summer is behind us, this exfoliating serum could be just what you need. Suitable for all skin types, it uses glycolic and lactic acids to improve texture and has the added bonus of vitamin C to boost brightness. Use under your moisturiser or even try mixing a few drops in to it. Don’t forget to slather on SPF before you leave the house though. 

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