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Which Paula's Choice Skincare AHA Exfoliant is Right for Me?
Paula’s Choice Skincare is known for our wide selection of gentle, leave-on exfoliants, including several that contain AHAs (alpha hydroxy acids). These ingredients, headlined by the most thoroughly researched AHAs glycolic acid and lactic acid, are an important part of a best-in-class skincare routine for normal to very dry, sun-damaged skin.
All our AHA exfoliants can be used by all skin types, but choosing the one that works best for you (or at least which one to start with) depends on four factors—product texture, strength, skin type, and skin concerns. These factors are important, and also are the area where confusion arises—but not anymore. This article will help you determine which of our AHA exfoliants is right for you!
Why Using an AHA Exfoliant Is So Important
As we age and because we subject our skin to unprotected sun exposure, the surface of skin gradually stops shedding as quickly and evenly as it did when we were younger. This leads to a constant buildup of dry-looking, dull, rough, uneven skin. Using a leave-on AHA exfoliant changes that, helping skin do what it can no longer do well on its own. The result is unbelievably smoother, younger, hydrated, radiant, and even-looking skin! For details, see our article “How AHA Exfoliants Work.”
The Differences Between Our AHAs
Paula’s Choice Skincare offers five AHA exfoliants: two essential facial exfoliation options; two facial exfoliants with extra-benefit formulas that are part of our RESIST line; and a wonderful AHA exfoliant for the body. Although all deliver beautiful results, each has its own distinctive qualities, but it’s also perfectly OK to use more than one, alternating between them based on your skin’s needs and what works best for you.
Paula’s Choice Skincare AHA essential exfoliants for the face:
SKIN PERFECTING 8% AHA Gel: Our original AHA exfoliant, this sheer, lightweight gel is suitable for all skin types, especially oily to combination skin. It contains an 8% concentration of glyolic acid plus soothing chamomile, green tea, and panthenol. Replenishing ingredients such as sodium PCA and hyaluronic acid supply potent, yet weightless, hydration.
SKIN PERFECTING 8% AHA Lotion: This skin-softening exfoliant, in a lightly emollient, moisturizing lotion, is best for normal to dry or very dry skin. Just like our 8% AHA Gel version described above, the 8% AHA Lotion contains glycolic acid plus soothing, plant-derived ingredients like lipids and triglycerides that dry skin needs to visibly improve.
Paula’s Choice Skincare RESIST exfoliants with extra benefits for the face:
RESIST Daily Smoothing Treatment 5% AHA: Part of our anti-aging range, this exfoliant contains anti-aging ingredients for normal to dry skin. It’s a silky, nearly weightless lotion that contains 5% glycolic acid plus an advanced mix of antioxidants, peptides, ceramides, and other replenishing and restoring ingredients that help skin look younger. This is the daily-use AHA to choose if your primary concern is wrinkles, uneven skin tone, and visible loss of firmness.
RESIST Weekly Resurfacing Treatment 10% AHA: This liquid exfoliant contains 10% glycolic acid in a unique delivery system loaded with plant-derived soothing agents, brighteners, and advanced hydrating ingredients. A remarkable exfoliant for all skin types, it’s ideal for those struggling with advanced signs of aging, including deep wrinkles and more pronounced skin tone and texture issues. You can alternate its use with any of our other AHA exfoliants as often as needed (but, for best results, use at least once per week).
Note: RESIST Daily Smoothing Treatment and Weekly Resurfacing Treatment are sold separately and also as part of our specially priced RESIST Skin Resurfacing and Smoothing Set.
Paula’s Choice Skincare AHA exfoliant for the body:
RESIST Skin Revealing Body Lotion 10% AHA: This creamy-smooth lotion with 10% glycolic acid is for all skin types. It glides over skin, immediately going to work to visibly improve multiple signs of aging from the neck down. Regular use lessens the appearance of crepe-like skin, revives a firm feel, and leaves a lasting, radiant softness that’s sure to impress.
When to apply: All of our facial AHA exfoliants should be applied after cleansing and toning, and then followed by your other skincare products, applying those in order from the lightest to the heaviest textures.
Apply the Skin Revealing Body Lotion 10% AHA to cleansed skin, and, if needed, follow with a regular body lotion on very dry areas.
ALWAYS, ALWAYS: Protect exposed skin with a broad-spectrum sunscreen rated SPF 30 or greater. This is critical to the success of any AHA exfoliant, not to mention your skin’s overall health.
References for this information: Journal of Dermatological Science, June 2017, pages 238–248
Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology, October 2015, pages 21–26
Clinical, Cosmetic, and Investigational Dermatology, December 2014, pages 9-17 and November 2010, pages 135–142
Jundishapur Journal of Natural Pharmaceutical Products, January 2012, pages 9–10
The Journal of Dermatology, January 2006, pages 16–22
Food and Chemical Toxicology, November 1999, pages 1,105–1,111
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About the Experts
Paula Begoun is the best-selling author of 20 books about skincare and makeup. She is known worldwide as The Cosmetics Cop and creator of Paula’s Choice Skincare. Paula’s expertise has led to hundreds of appearances on national and international radio, print, and television including:
The Paula's Choice Research Team is dedicated to busting beauty myths and providing expert advice that solves your skincare frustrations so you can have the best skin of your life!