Long gone are the days when harsh, gritty face scrubs were most effective way of buffing away dead skin cells to reveal a brighter, smoother complexion. In fact, when it comes to exfoliating your face, experts now suggest that you ditch the rough stuff altogether (it can do more harm than good) and instead swap in products that are rich in alpha and beta hydroxy acids.
The benefits of using AHAs (like glycolic, lactic and mandelic acids) and BHAs (salicylic acid) are well worth adding an extra step to your skin care routine, especially when you’re prepping for the big day. Regular acid exfoliation minimizes clogged pores and breakouts, erases dark spots and discoloration, banishes flakiness, boosts collagen production, softens fine lines and prepares your skin to better absorb serums and moisturizers — all in all leaving you with a fresh, glowing canvas for your wedding-day beauty look.
The eight products below — a mix of toners, serums, masks and easy-to-use facial pads — will aid you in your quest for bright, flawless skin. Scoop one up today and prepare to see results.
Drunk Elephant T.L.C. Sukari Babyfacial
This new-to-the-market face mask from non-toxic skin care line Drunk Elephant harnesses the power of five different acids to gently, but effectively, unclog pores and improve skin texture. The combination of 25 percent glycolic acid and 2 percent salicylic acid — plus a whole host of other goodies (think matcha tea for antioxidants and niacinamide for its anti-aging qualities) — makes this inventive formula a must try. ($80, Sephora)
Dr. Dennis Gross Alpha Beta Universal Daily Peel
Perfect for girls on the go, Dr. Dennis Gross’s two-step acid peels come in convenient packets that make exfoliating — no matter where you are — a total breeze. The pre-soaked wipes contain glycolic, salicylic and malic acids which work together to combat uneven skin tone and texture, large pores and fine lines and wrinkles. ($16 for 5 treatments, Sephora)
Renee Rouleau AHA Smoothing Serum 17%
Problematic (read: acne-prone) skin requires careful exfoliation that gets the job done without causing increased redness and irritation. Enter this lightweight glycolic serum: The acid dissolves dry, dead cells while aloe vera and glycerin soothe skin and keep moisture levels in check. The brand offers the serum in two additional concentrations if you need lighter or stronger exfoliation. ($45.50, Renee Rouleau)
Paula’s Choice Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Liquid
A quick swipe of Paula’s Choice’s top-selling product is all you need to rid oily skin of the unwanted grease and grime that builds up throughout the day. The salicylic-based toner targets clogged and enlarged pores — bye, blackheads! — while improving skin texture and promoting hydration. The result: clear, radiant skin. ($29, Paula’s Choice)
M-61 JetGlow Serum
Packed with glycolic acid, skin-plumping peptides and antioxidant-rich red seaweed and goji berry, this powerful retexturing serum sinks in deep to relax fine lines and wrinkles, improve skin elasticity and exfoliate dead cells that dull your complexion. Just pat a few drops onto clean, dry skin at night and follow with your favorite moisturizer. ($98, Bluemercury)
Pixi Glow Tonic
As if the name doesn’t give it away, this cult-favorite toner makes glowing skin a reality thanks to a balanced mix of aloe vera, ginseng (it improves circulation) and glycolic acid. Plus, it’s alcohol-free, so you can safely use it twice per day without fear of drying your skin out. ($29, Pixi Beauty)
SK-II Facial Treatment Clear Lotion
This Japanese brand is well known for its use of an ingredient called Pitera, a clear liquid bursting with vitamins, amino acids, minerals and organic acids that improves the skin’s natural rejuvenation process. Here Pitera is combined with citric, salicylic, lactic and malic acids to create a toner that purifies and refreshes all skin types. ($76, SK-II)
BeautyRx by Dr. Schultz Advanced 10% Exfoliating Pads
If you’re already familiar with acid-based skin care and your face can tolerate a product with a little more oomph, reach for this advanced-strength formula. Tetrafoliant, BeautyRx’s proprietary complex of glycolic, salicylic, lactic and phytic acids, mingles with an extra dose of glycolic, anti-inflammatory willowherb and Japanese green tea leaf extract to brighten skin and fight signs of aging. Just make sure you pay close attention to the instructions for use. ($70, BeautyRx)