You've heard from your dermatologist, aesthetician, makeup artist and probably your mother time and time again just how important exfoliation is for your skin. But it's important to note that merely splashing your face with cleanser and water twice a day doesn't guarantee you're doing it right.
There's a crucial ingredient your skincare routine is probably missing -- and you can probably blame your clogged pores, fine lines, pimples anddullness on it. Hello, glycolic acid!
"The reason I say look for glycolic acid is because it has one of the smallest size molecules of the fruit acids and is able to penetrate deeper into your skin giving you the best results," explained Dr. Lamees Hamden, CEO and founder of luxury skincare brand Shiffa, to AOL Lifestyle.
The potent formula packs in 5 percent cosmetic grade glycolic acid to support natural skin cell renewal and remove unwanted cells. With 3500 "loves" on Sephora, it's sure to become a routine essential.
"This stuff is holy grail status. It’s the best chemical exfoliant I have ever tried," one customer wrote.
The exfoliating face wash is made with 10 percent glycolic acid to loosen surface cells to promote glow and appearance of the skin.
Wrote one reviewer on Dermstore's website, "I love how soft my skin feels after using this was. Because I have sensitive skin it's hard to find something that will exfoliate without irritating my skin but this does the job."
"I also love how easy it is to get a radiant complexion by using glycolic acid. It's been widely studied and the effects are cumulative, so the longer you use it, the better results you will be," explained the expert.
While glycolic acid has long been an essential part of the beauty industry -- it's commonly found in chemical peels -- it's most recently surged in popularity. More and more skincare brands are realizing the potential of the ingredient and, consequently, are integrating it into more of its products. (There are now hundreds of products made with the ingredient and we've rounded up some of our favorites above.)
Hamden and other dermatologists agree that the list of benefits of glycolic acid is extensive. "Glycolic acid enhances skin shedding and helps correct skin discoloration," began Dr. Hamden. "It also stimulates new cell generation and the production of collagen and elastin, so the ingredient can help reduce signs of environmental damage (sun, pollution, etc.). It gives your skin the boost it needs without weakening it."
However, because of how potent the acid is, Hamden explains that sensitivity to the sun and dryness is also increased. "Like everything, too much, too strong, or too often, is not necessarily better. I don’t advise daily AHA use, I prefer once or twice a week. If you’re using it for the first time, try using it at night," she said.
"Glycolic acid can increase sun sensitivity, so please use a good broad-spectrum sunscreen every day -- I like Elta MD," she suggested.