During the last months of winter, it can feel like you're withering from the inside out.
Our bodies yearn for Vitamin D, our spirits miss the sun, and our skin is as dull as our monotonous routines. What can we do to combat the winter pandemic blues?
Exfoliating acids can do wonders for the skin, as long as they're applied safely (namely perform a skin patch test, never apply to broken skin, and limit sun exposure). While we equip ourselves with sunlamps and feel-good Netflix queues, we can treat our skin to some deep exfoliation and moisture. If you're not looking to spend half your stimulus check at Sephora (seriously, $80 for a facial acid, Drunk Elephant?), then you're in luck with a company called The Ordinary.
Here are 6 surprisingly affordable acid treatments you can apply at home (just remember to follow the directions)!
People have long praised niacinamide's benefits, from reducing inflammation to minimizing pore appearance. This water-soluble vitamin works with your skin to soften and moisturize, in addition to reducing sebum production (AKA excessive oiliness).
Directions: Apply to entire face morning and evening before heavier creams.
Check it out here for $5.90 USD.
The Ordinary Lactic Acid 5%
As one of the most well-known alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs), Lactic Acid has the exfoliating power to fight hyperpigmentation and stave off wrinkles — but it can be too strong for some sensitive skin types. Weaker strengths, like The Ordinary's 5% formula, are generally safe enough to be used daily, but stronger formulas, like The Ordinary's 10% version, should be used no more than two or three times a week. (And yes, expect some skin peeling to occur, which can reveal glowing, baby-smooth skin underneath — but it's still gross).
Directions: Apply once per day, ideally in the PM. Can be diluted with other treatments to reduce strength until skin develops tolerance. Avoid contact with eyes. Contact of the product with the skin must be of limited frequency or duration.
Find it here for $6.50 USD.
Another exfoliating AHA, glycolic acid can be a holy grail of exfoliation. As Healthline notes, "When applied to the skin, glycolic acid works to break the bonds between the outer layer of skin cells, including dead skin cells, and the next skin cell layer. This creates a peeling effect that can make the skin appear smoother and more even."
Like all AHAs, glycolic can be too strong for some skin types, so it's best to perform a skin patch test to gauge how well your skin responds to it. As The Ordinary notes, "This 7% toning solution offers mild exfoliation for improved skin radiance and visible clarity. The formula also improves the appearance of skin texture with continued use."
Directions: Use ideally in the PM, no more frequently than once per day. After cleaning, saturate a cotton pad with the formula and sweep across face and neck. Avoid the eye contour and contact with eyes. Do not rinse off. Continue with additional skin treatments as needed. Contact of the product with the skin must be of limited frequency or duration.
Buy it here for $8.70 USD.
The Ordinary Salicylic Acid
This salicylic acid is mixed with witch hazel to help "exfoliate the inside walls of pores to fight the appearance of blemishes" and clarify dull skin over time. As a beta hydroxy acid (BHA), you'll want to limit your sun exposure while you use this product and layer on the sunscreen when you are outside, as your skin will be more prone to sun damage.
Directions: Use in the AM and PM. Apply a small dot directly on spots for visible improvement or apply a small amount over the face to maintain visible clarity with continued use. Avoid the eye contour and contact with eyes. Patch testing prior to use is advised: Apply product to a small area once a day for three days to test if you are sensitive to this product. Start with one application daily. If dryness or peeling occurs reduce application to once a day or every other day. If you develop severe irritation, hives, swelling of eyes and mouth, blistering, or difficulty breathing, rinse off, cease use and consult a physician right away.
Shop here at $5.30 USD.
The Ordinary Hyaluronic Acid
Hyaluronic acid is naturally produced in your body and generally works to retain moisture in your skin, connective tissue, and eyes. Applying this formula to your skin helps enhance hydration, particularly because "this formulation combines low-, medium- and high-molecular weight HA, as well as a next-generation HA crosspolymer at a combined concentration of 2% for multi-depth hydration in a water-based formula. This system is supported with the addition of Vitamin B5 which also enhances surface hydration."
Directions: Apply a few drops to face AM and PM before creams.
Buy it here for $6.80 USD.
The Ordinary AHA BHA
For a serious peel, try this cocktail of both an AHA and a BHA. As a 10-minute exfoliating facial, the AHA works on the surface of the skin to create a brighter appearance, while the BHA works in the pores to clear congestion. The Ordinary's Tasmanian Pepperberry ingredient gives the solution a bright berry color, which gives a lovely vampiric glow while the acids work.
This may be too strong for sensitive skin, so be sure to perform a skin patch test!
Directions: Clean face and wait for skin to dry. Do not use on wet skin. Apply evenly across face and neck using fingertips, avoiding the eye area. Leave on for no more than 10 minutes. Rinse thoroughly with lukewarm water. Avoid the eye contour and contact with eyes both during application and rinse off. This low-viscosity solution is intended to be used as a masque. Do not leave on for longer than 10 minutes. It is not recommended to use more than twice per week. Contact of the product with the skin must be of limited frequency or duration.
Buy it here for $7.20 USD.