polyhydroxy acid

Leave-On Exfoliant
Ingredients such as gluconolactone and lactobionic acid are types of polyhydroxy acid (PHA). They are supposed to be as effective as AHAs but less irritating (NeoStrata is the company that holds a patent on glycolic acid as an antiwrinkle agent, as well as a patent for gluconolactone for reducing the appearance of wrinkles). Gluconolactone and lactobionic acid are chemically and functionally similar to AHAs. The significant difference between them and AHAs is that gluconolactone and lactobionic acid have larger molecular structures, which limits their ability to penetrate into the skin, resulting in a reduction of irritating side-effects. Supposedly, this reduced absorption into the skin does not hamper their effectiveness. Does that mean gluconolactone and lactobionic acid are better for your skin than AHAs in the form of glycolic acid or lactic acid? According to an Internet-published class lecture by Dr. Mark G. Rubin (Source:, a board-certified dermatologist and assistant clinical professor of dermatology at the University of California, San Diego, research on gluconolactone demonstrated only a “6% decrease in dermal penetration” in comparison to glycolic acid, which “isn’t a dramatic improvement.” Gluconolactone may be slightly less irritating for some skin types, but this isn’t the magic bullet for exfoliation that beauty magazines and some cosmetics companies have been extolling. There is no independent research information available about lactobionic acid.

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Paula Begoun is the best-selling author of 20 books on skin care and makeup. She is known worldwide as the Cosmetics Cop and creator of Paula's Choice. Paula's expertise has led to hundreds of appearances on national and international television including:

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