F is for Fewer Zits + Smoother Skin: The Best Thing I Ever Did For My Complexion

by Janine on 8 March 2013 · 76 comments

beautygeeks_2013In the more than four decades that I’ve had this mug, glycolic acid has made the biggest difference in my skin’s clarity and smoothness. It was key to reducing my acne war to the occasional skirmish, and helped to make my complexion in my 30s better than it had ever been in my 20s. Now that my skin is less sebum-soaked than it was in my 30s, I still use a glycolic-acid swipe every few days as a Keep Off the Grass! warning to rogue blemishes.

a few glycolic acid facts

  • Glycolic acid is derived from natural sources such as sugar cane.
  • The alpha-hydroxy acid with the smallest molecular size, it penetrates the top layer of skin very well and is beloved for its ability to exfoliate away dry, patchy skin and mild hyperpigmentation.
  • Glycolic acid is available in different strengths, from just under 4% in mild, mostly drugstore-available lotions and creams, to 10% resurfacing options, to more than 20% derm-strength and derm-administered peels.
  • “A great option for acne-prone skin as well as for people who want to get rid of fine lines and blotchy skin, it’s a good all-round anti-aging ingredient,” says Dr. Vince Bertucci, Medical Director of Bertucci MedSpa in Woodbridge, ON.
  • “Like retinol, glycolic acid can be irritating,” Bertucci notes. “Try a low-percentage formula if you have sensitive skin; stronger, oilier skin can handle more. A glycolic acid toner is great for men, too, to help prevent ingrown beard hair.”

glycolic for face and body slideshow

Miracle 10 Solution I_3 percent glycolic acid

Beginner: Miracle 10 Solution I ($39, miracle10.com) combines a 3% concentration of glycolic acid with salicylic acid and brightening kojic acid. (The derm-created brand also has a Solution II at 5%.)

Olay Regenerist Night Resurfacing Elixir_3.9 percent glycolic acid

Beginner: Olay Regenerist Night Resurfacing Elixir ($39.99, drugstores) is a moisturizing 3.9 % glycolic acid formula.

Garnier Skin Renew Dark Spot Overnight Peel_4 percent glycolic acid

Beginner: Garnier Skin Renew Overnight Peel ($19.99, drugstores) is a 4% strength with a side of brightening Vitamin C.

Nip + Fab Glycolic Fix pads_6 percent glycolic acid

Intermediate: Nip + Fab Glycolic Fix ($12.95/60 pads, Shoppers Drug Mart) cleans up with 6% glycolic acid and a splash of moisture-hoarding hyaluronic acid.

Neostrata Toning Solution Level 1_8 percent glycolic acid

Intermediate: Neostrata Toning Solution Level 1 ($27, well.ca) is a pH-balanced 8% glycolic acid solution; I used it twice a day for most of my oily 30s.

Peter Thomas Roth Glycolic Acid 10 percent Toning Complex_10 percent glycolic acid

Advanced: Peter Thomas Roth 10% Toning Complex Clarifying Toner ($40, sephora.ca) is a 10%, with lactic and citric acids as well as soothing chamomile, aloe and water-attracting sodium PCA.

Neostrata Toning Solution Level 2_10 percent glycolic acid

Advanced: Neostrata Toning Solution Level 2 ($29, well.ca), is a 10% strength too, pH-balanced like Level 1, but with a hit of salicylic acid for added breakout control and pore purification.

Brazilian Peel_30 percent glycolic acid

Advanced: Brazillian Peel ($78, sephora.ca) is a derm-strength 30% glycolic acid formula that promises fresh-looking skin fast, without irritation.

Proactiv Clear Zone body pads

Body: Proactiv Clear Zone Body Pads ($29, getproactiv.ca) combine salicylic acid with 5% glycolic to treat bacne and bum-ne (technical terms, according to Beautygeek Liza).

Dermaglow Glycolic Body Cream_10 percent glycolic acid

Body: Dermaglow Glycolic 10% Body Cream ($34, drugstores) is potent, but skin on the body is hardier than on the face, so it can handle this glycolic percentage without freaking out. Just don't use it after shaving.

Julep Glycolic Hand Scrub_10 percent glycolic acid

Body: Julep Glycolic Hand Scrub ($26.50, sephora.ca) smooths hands with a 10% glycolic + scrubby apricot seeds formula.

* * * * *

For more details, here’s info on glycolic acid’s anti-aging and anti-zit properties, and here are six how-to-use-it tips.

Has glycolic acid helped you? Do you have a favourite?

Miracle 10 via miracle10.com; Olay, Garnier and Dermaglow, at drugstores; Neostrata via well.ca; Nip + Fab at Shoppers Drug Mart; Peter Thomas Roth, Brazillian Peel and Julep at sephora.ca; Proactiv via getproactiv.ca or (888) 445-6169.

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{ 68 comments… read them below or add one }

Jill D. 8 March 2013 at 2:44 pm

10% or bust! i like to feel the burn from time to time.


Janine 8 March 2013 at 3:01 pm

I’ve never tried higher than 8%, actually — I haven’t had many stinging reactions to that concentration, but they made me wary of anything stronger.

I’ve had a couple of really excellent derm-office peels, though — I can take a little burn for a treatment once in a while.


J-Mo 8 March 2013 at 7:17 pm

I’m still partial to “F is for ‘For The Love of All Things Holy, Let Me TWEET’”…… but this is a good second ;)


Janine 9 March 2013 at 9:53 am

A consolation, if you will. *giggle* xoxo


Cheryl 9 March 2013 at 1:34 am

I’m grabbing the neostrata toning solution based on your ‘glowing skin’ recommendation!
also adding neostrata body smoothing lotion to my shopping cart, woo!


Janine 9 March 2013 at 9:59 am

Happy shopping, Cheryl! You should see a difference in your skin within about two weeks!


Cheryl 25 April 2013 at 11:28 am

you. are. a. beauty. guru.!

my face loves the neostrata toning lotion. I introduced it gradually just to be sure but my face ‘can’ tolerate 2 swipes a day and it’s never been calmer, =).

love your recommendations!


Janine 25 April 2013 at 11:33 am

I’m so happy it’s working for you! Just make sure you’ve upped your hydrating skin care too, to balance the extra exfoliation. You might like to apply a hydrating serum after you swipe with glycolic. Indeed Labs Hydraluron is a good one — it’s a reasonably priced hyaluronic-acid gel that feels nice and calming on contact with skin. :-)


Beauty Reflections 12 March 2013 at 10:41 pm

I’ve gone back to using glycolics too. My skin has been going through some changes that come with the WONDERFUL experience of THE CHANGE. Boy, it’s made a difference. I use 8%, but dilute it with some La Roche Posay Spring Water and everything is really calming down, the texture is improving and it just looks better.


Janine 13 March 2013 at 9:56 pm

It works so quickly, too, doesn’t it Tracy? Re: diluting, how are you using the LRP thermal water? Are you putting it on a cotton pad with the glycolic toner? Or spraying skin first with the thermal water, then applying the glycolic?


Kathy 13 March 2013 at 4:38 pm

Hi, I accidentally stumbled upon your site today and love it! I have very very sensitive skin which one of these out of the beginner group would you suggest for acne prone skin and mild hyperpigmentation?


Janine 13 March 2013 at 10:08 pm

Hi Kathy! Thanks for stopping by!

Your sensitive skin would want you to start with the lower concentrations. I’d suggest the Olay Regenerist or Garnier Skin Renew. They’re both really accessible and designed to suit a wide range of skin types. The Garnier in particular comes with a price tag that won’t hurt too much if your skin decides it doesn’t like it.

If the Garnier gets along with your skin, when you’re ready you might be able to move up to the Nip + Fab Glycolic Fix pads. They’re a 6% concentration and so well priced — win win.

Please keep me posted on how your skin responds? Thanks for your question!


Ange 19 March 2013 at 3:35 pm

This post is timely as I ‘ve been planning to pick your brain on exfoliants and such – how did you get into my head like that?

You know how problematic my skin is/has been, but I’ve been thinking that I need to change my approach on exfoliating… now I have some food for thought. xo


Janine 19 March 2013 at 10:13 pm

Ha ha! I do know from your skin… and I’m worried glycolic might be a bit much for your dermographic issues :-( Obviously, you’d want to start at the low end of the glycolic-percentage spectrum. Let’s have a chat soon, ‘k? xoxo


Sarah 21 March 2013 at 11:20 am

Is it possible that over time our skin adapts (and therefore stops responding) to a glycolic acid product forcing us to continuously move up to higher percentage solutions?

I started last Nov with Miracle 10 (cleanser, Solution 1, day moisturizer, AHA gel, night moisturizer, eye cream) and it seemed to work, at first. At the same time however, I had an IPL treatment and two chemical peels, so my skin was lookin’ good! So I really don’t know if Miracle 10 did a thing. At the 10 week mark when I’m supposed to see optimal results (hence the ’1o’ in the name) it was already becoming less effective for me.

I’ve got sensitive and combination skin. Any suggestions as to what to try next? Thanks Janine!


Janine 22 March 2013 at 9:17 am

Hi Sarah,

It sounds like your skin had a lot to deal with in a short amount of time, actually. I suspect that more than anything you now need a super-dose of hydration, via serum and moisturizer for dehydrated skin. That will also help with the sensitivity. My go-to in such cases is Vichy Aqualia Thermale serum and night cream. Consonant HydrExtreme Serum is also a good choice.

Re: whether skin can adjust to higher concentrations of glycolic acid, it can, certainly. But if your skin is sensitive, you don’t want to overdo it — I wouldn’t go higher than 6% or 8%. Your current regimen sounds as though you’re getting a glycolic hit from more than just one product, though, which makes things a little more complicated. For now, I’d amp up the hydration (it’s AMAZING the difference good hydration can make) to see if that gives your skin the glow you’re looking for.

Keep me posted, okay?


Sarah 23 March 2013 at 9:49 pm

Thanks Janine!

It was a lot all at once – the entire regimen (products and treatments) were administered by a reputable clinic so I felt I could trust them, but I suppose even the experts don’t know exactly how skin will react until they start applying different things to it.

I’ll add in some extra hydration – thanks for the suggestion!


Janine 25 March 2013 at 9:19 am

Well, sometimes those experts are so focussed on “active ingredients” and results, results, results that they forget that something simple like water — and a little time — is vital to the process. :-)


Naddy 25 March 2013 at 8:23 pm

Done. I am hitting Sephora tomorrow after work to get that hand scrub. Scariest thing EVER was waking up one day and realizing my hands were aging faster than my face. There ain’t hand lift that I know of! Need. This. To. Stop. Now. :D


Janine 25 March 2013 at 10:06 pm

Just make sure you follow up with an SPF hand lotion, or at least sunscreen on the back of your hands — it’s those durned UV rays causing that faster aging… *sheesh.* :-)


Bethany 13 July 2013 at 7:03 pm

What is the full ingredient list for the Miracle 10 Solution? I’m thinking of buying it but I like to know the complete list of things first!


Janine 13 July 2013 at 11:39 pm

Hi Bethany,

There’s a partial ingredient list on the Miracle 10 website (http://www.miracle10.com/solution1.cfm); I’ll see about getting a full ingredient list to share with you.

Thanks for your question :-)


Janine 15 July 2013 at 10:47 am

Hi Bethany,

Here’s the ingredient list for the Miracle 10 Solution:

Aqua, Alcohol denat., Ethoxydiglycol, Glycolic acid, Polysorbate 20, Salicylic acid, Kojic acid, Sodium ascorbyl phosphate, Thioctic acid, Eucalyptus globules leaf oil, Sodium metabisulfite, Disodium EDTA, Sodium hydroxide.


Bethany 15 July 2013 at 9:52 pm

Thank you so much!


Lindsay 26 March 2013 at 5:02 pm

Um, I’m really excited about this post. I’m still in my thirties but my skin is doing way weird things. Bumpy and blotchy all the time. Major unlike. I want to have all these products.


Janine 27 March 2013 at 11:53 pm

I was in my early 30s when I started using glycolic acid.

What skincare are you using now, lovely?


Alexandra 1 April 2013 at 2:56 pm

Janine Falcon. You have the nicest skin on any person ever. I’m calling bullsh*t on your age, you look amazing. I want your skin.


Janine 2 April 2013 at 7:19 am

Ha ha ha! Thanks, Alexandra :-)


Rebecca 2 April 2013 at 4:49 am

I’ve just discovered your site and I fear that I may be here for the next few hours reading it ALL…

I’m a 22-year-old having trouble with acne lately; I previously had moderate acne at 15/16 and it cleared up quite nicely with treatment, leaving me with lovely skin until age 21, and now I have even worse acne than before. Sigh. I think it’s clearing up very slowly, though. I also have sensitive skin, and I’m willing to try anything that makes my face less acned and a bit smoother, too (harsh never-ending winter…).

I looked into the Olay Regenerist Night Resurfacing Elixir, which I found for £24 on UK Amazon. I’m a bit of a poor student and would rather not drop so much money immediately, and the Garnier peel doesn’t seem to be available in the UK. I found this [http://www.amazon.co.uk/Olay-Regenerist-Night-Renewal-Elxir/dp/B004WK85WY/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&qid=1364895808&sr=8-4] (Renewal Elixir rather than Resurfacing) for only £8…do you think that might work similarly, or is too cheap to do a decent job? Do you have any experience with it?

Thanks, and amazing site :)


Janine 2 April 2013 at 7:18 am

Hi Rebecca,

So frustrating, that adult acne stuff. I keep saying that if it’s adult acne, it’s old enough to know not to go where it’s not wanted. Right??

I think Olay Regenerist Night Renewal Elixir is the same thing, just perhaps the UK name. Another option for you is Nip + Fab Glycolic Fix, which retails for about £13. It’s 60 pads pre-soaked with a 6% glycolic acid formula that also includes hyaluronic acid to balance the exfoliation with a dose of hydration. It shouldn’t be too harsh for your skin.

Introduce it gradually — swipe a pad all over your complexion once every other day for the first week, then once each day the second week, and twice each day from the third week. You should start to see a difference in your skin by the time you’re finished the jar.

Keep me posted, okay Rebecca?


Rebecca 2 April 2013 at 7:49 am

Thanks so much for your fast and helpful response, much appreciated :)

I’ll order what you suggested and let you know how it goes.


Anna 14 May 2013 at 11:23 am


It would be so lovely if you could list what products you use in your skincare regime and what products are your faves. It sounds like our skin types are very similar. I am in my early thirties but I am still dealing with a bit of oiliness and breakouts but I wanna prevent the whole again thing if you know what I mean!! Also which Neostrata products are your faves? I’m all for supporting a Canadian company!


Janine 15 May 2013 at 7:38 am

I’ve mentioned favourites over the course of several posts here and there, but I’ve not done a what-I’m-using-now list — hmmm. Stay tuned :-)

Re: Neostrata, my favourite is the 8% Glycolic acid toner (of course). I’m also a fan of Cliniderm SPF 45 sunscreen for sensitive skin (made by the same company), and their mattifying lotion is quite good. I like their stem-cell gel, too — the serum is on my list of things to try soon.


Ada 29 May 2013 at 9:47 am

I’m excited that I found the Nip and Fab glycolic fix pads at my local Shoppers (on sale too!). I hope this will clear up my monthly pimple which always blossoms into a red scar.

Janine, I met you last year at a salon, and I thought you were in your early 30′s! You look amazing!


Janine 4 January 2014 at 12:36 am

Ada, how did I miss your kind compliment?? Thank you :-)

Has the Nip & Fab helped?


Iris Kaptein 3 June 2013 at 8:09 pm

I am using the Garnier Peel and it’s great not to over powering no tingling but I am wondering with my anti aging routine should I put a serum on before the peel or after? Cause the Garnier one is a leave on over night….
Or do I use it every other day?


Janine 3 June 2013 at 9:02 pm

Hi Iris,

Thanks for your question — it’s a good one. My feeling is that you should be able to let your skin absorb a nightly application of the Garnier peel then apply serum and night cream (as long as they’re safe to use with glycolic) on top. But let me ask some questions and get back to you, okay?


Janine 5 June 2013 at 12:45 am

Hi again, Iris –

Yes, you can apply serum and night cream over the Garnier peel every night, as long as neither contains retinol or more glycolic acid. (You can skip the additional serum and go straight to night cream if your skin likes that better.)



Alex 5 July 2013 at 3:08 am

Hi Janine, what serum would you recommend using on top of the Garnier peel? Could I skip the serum or is it important for hydration after peeling? Lastly, would it be too much to use the Garnier peel and a glycolic face wash?


Janine 5 July 2013 at 6:05 pm

Hi Alex,

You can use a hydrating serum over the Garnier peel if you like. It’s quite mild, so you might not really need a serum; a light moisturizer might do it.

Adding a glycolic cleanser to your routine probably won’t hurt. If at some point you want to try a stronger glycolic peel, such as an 8% or 10% glycolic toner or pre-soaked face pad, you’ll want to monitor your skin carefully if you’re also using a glycolic face wash. Any signs of increased dryness or irritation is your skin’s signal to ease up. :-)


Theresa 10 July 2013 at 5:50 pm

What a wonderful article! I am new to the anti-aging products. I am only 27, but have some blotchy red spots, a few acne scars, and dull/dry skin. I have never used retinol or glycolic acid, so I’m not sure where to start. I did use Dr. Grossman’s alpha beta peel pads after receiving a sample once and loved them, but couldn’t afford to actually buy them. I just tried the Olay Regnerist Night Elixir and woke up with very smooth skin, but as the day progressed my skin became red, puffy, itchy, and I felt a slight burn. It’s labeled as a nightly serum, but I think it is too strong for me. Can you recommend something more gentle, or should I just try it once a week and see if my skin adjusts? Are Dr. Grossman’s pas with AHA meant to do the same thing as the glycolic acid?


Janine 24 November 2013 at 9:49 am

Hi Theresa,

I’m so sorry — I missed that you’d left this comment.

Your skin’s reaction to the Olay Regenerist Night Elixir makes me curious. It’s a very mild concentration, one of the mildest. Did you use any other skincare the morning after? What did you use to cleanse? To moisturize? (Moisturizer is hugely important when using glycolic acid skincare.) And did you use a sunscreen or foundation?

Dr. Grossman’s pads are indeed intended to do the same thing as the glycolic acid — glycolic acid is an AHA and it’s a key ingredient in the formula in the first step of the Dr. Grossman daily peel. As well, the pads use a combination of other AHA and BHA (betahydroxy acid – i.e. salicylic acid, a common ingredient in anti-acne care). They’re an excellent option for skin-smoothing if your skin (and wallet) likes them.

Here’s the ingredient list. I’ve put an asterix next to each AHA (alphahydroxy acid like glycolic) and two asterix next to each BHA:

Step 1: Water, Alcohol Denat., Glycolic Acid*, Hamamelis Virginiana (Witch Hazel) Leaf Extract, Potassium Hydroxide, Salicylic Acid**, Polysorbate 20, Citric Acid*, Lactic Acid*, Malic Acid*, Camellia Sinensis Leaf Extract, Achillea Millefolium Extract, Chamomilla Recutita (Matricaria) Flower Extract, Soy Isoflavones, Disodium EDTA, Copper PCA, Zinc PCA, Fragrance (Parfum), Sodium Benzoate.
Step 2: Water, Sodium Bicarbonate, Ascorbic Acid, Ascorbyl Palmitate, Retinyl Palmitate, Retinol, Tocopheryl Acetate, Resveratrol, Ubiquinone, Achillea Millefolium Extract, Camellia Sinensis Leaf Extract, Soy Isoflavones, Phospholipids, Copper PCA, Sodium PCA, Zinc PCA, Simethicone, Octoxynol-9, Tetrasodium EDTA, Sodium Benzoate, Phenoxyethanol.


Haley 28 December 2013 at 2:25 pm

Hi Janine, first off what an awesome website you have! I am loving all the info and sound advice you are giving.

I would like to ask you about two seemingly similar products. The Olay Elixir you suggested (which I have never tried) and the Olay 3 point super serum (trying it now for the first time). Are these two products similar or do they do different things to your skin?

I would really appreciate a quick response if you have a couple of minutes. Thank you very much Janine and keep up the the good work. :)


Janine 1 January 2014 at 7:37 pm

Hi Haley,

I don’t believe the Olay 3 Point Super Serum is available in Canada yet, or perhaps it’s under a different name (that happens). But I can tell you that it’s definitely a different formula. Elixir is a mild glycolic-acid product designed to exfoliate/smooth the surface of the skin. Olay 3 Point Super Serum seems to be a concentrated product that contains Olay’s signature anti-wrinkle peptide, pal-KTTKS — palmitoyl pentapeptide-3 (also known by the trademark name Matrixyl).

Good news: if your skin needs smoothing, you can simply add Elixir to your regimen, even if you’re now using the 3-Point Serum. Peptides don’t exfoliate or irritate the skin at all, so they’re safe to use in conjunction with an exfoliation booster.

Hope that helps! And thanks for the great question!


Haley 2 January 2014 at 7:32 pm

Hi Janine,

So pleased you got a chance to respond. I live in Sydney, Australia (so far away, I know!). We actually have the 3 Point serum here under the name Sculpting. I thought you guys have it under 3 Point so I put the question to you using that name. Goodness, now I’m really confusing you. :)

Anyway you’re bang on the money with your answer. I’m delighted that these two products don’t have the same formulation.

May I be a pest again and ask for your recommendation please? :)
Do you think I should get the Olay’s Elixir in contrast to Skinceuticals’ retinol 1.0? I know Olay don’t disclose the retinol percentage in this product so really I am being cheeky asking your advice! :)

In any case thank you very much for taking the time to reply. I very much appreciate it.



Haley 3 January 2014 at 3:41 am

Heya Janine,

Just letting you know I went with the Peter Thomas Roth Retinol Fusion PM Facial Night Treatments in the end. It is 1.5 retinol which is the highest I have come across unprescribed! Pretty good. Have started to use my Skinceuticals .5 to get my skin conditioned first though.

Thanks again for your earlier response and I shall be keeping an eye on your good blogs.



Janine 3 January 2014 at 11:32 pm

Hi Haley,

Retinol and glycolic serve different purposes, actually. Glycolic acid is much more about surface smoothing; retinol is more about wrinkle reduction and sparking collagen production. It can irritate the skin, so it’s best NOT to add a glycolic component to your regimen while you use it (just in case you were tempted :-). You can still use the Sculpting serum, though. (That’s what it’s called here, too, it turns out!) xo


Haley 5 January 2014 at 2:39 am

Will do. Thank you so much for the free consultancy Janine :P
I feel empowered now! I shall combat wrinkles and win! :))


Haley 5 January 2014 at 2:45 am

I just had to come back and say not only you are pretty and sweet but also you have a heart of gold giving up so much of your personal time to help others. I am forever reading pages similar to yours, well most are just meh but some are maybe nearly as good as yours however what makes you stand out is the fact that you follow through with interest and care. I rarely ask questions or may contributions on those sites but rarely get feedback. I think you’re a lovely girl inside and out. Thank you again for having a genuine care in other people.

Haley xx


Janine 5 January 2014 at 12:27 pm

Thanks so much for your sweet comment, Haley *blushing* Could be I’m just some kind of know-it-all who likes to tell people what to do… *grin* xo


Christina 3 January 2014 at 6:03 pm

I just stumbled upon here looking at the PF CC+ Collection and I got so excited, haha! I have had moderate acne with occasional to regular severe and cystic flare ups since age 16. I tried everything except Accutane (which I cannot take due to a kidney problem). At 22, it has calmed some, but I still have blemeishes, redness, flaky/rough patches and severe oil saturation at all times with the occasional cyst. I am on a really tight student budget and use only drugstore products, but would be willing to spring for the Nip glycolic pads. Can you recommend other drugstore products? I am about to switch from Revlon ColorStay foundation to a BB or CC, and currently use PF loose powder. Thanks for giving those of us without “perfect” skin some hope, as you look fantastic! :>


Janine 4 January 2014 at 12:33 am

Hi Christina! Thanks for the compliment :-)

Definitely try the Nip & Fab pads. Nip & Fab is releasing some other Glycolic Fix products soon (stay tuned), but the pads are the most gentle — that’s super important when you’re just starting out with glycolic.

That excess oiliness suggests to me that your skin is crying out for a major hydration boost. You need a gentle cleanser, and a serum and light hydrating moisturizer to help your skin attract and hold onto water. I’ll recommend a brand for cleanser and moisturizer in a sec.

Other than glycolic acid, a key ingredient for you is hyaluronic acid, which is greedy for water. It attracts it and hoards it. You need it in a serum form to help balance all that oil.

Look for something called Hydraluron by a company called Indeed Labs. It’s more like a light hyaluronic acid gel than a serum, but you’d use it the same way:
1) wash and dry your face
2) wipe with the Nip & Fab pad
3) apply the Hydraluron
4) apply a light hydrating moisturizer

Hydraluron isn’t all that inexpensive, but you need only a small amount, and it really helps with the excess oil production as well as those dry patchy areas.

For gentle cleanser and light hydrating moisturizer, try a line called Simple. It’s a decent, inexpensive line designed to be gentle on skin.

As for BB, I’m quite happy with the Maybelline New York Dream Fresh BB Cream. It’s SPF 30 (mandatory for troubled skin to avoid hyperpigmentation) made with titanium dioxide and zinc oxide, mineral sunscreens that protect all day unless you rub your face. Coverage is fairly good.

You may find better oil absorbtion from a pressed powder than loose, but hopefully the Hydraluron will help enough so you won’t need to switch. If you do decide to try a pressed powder, think about the New Maybelline New York Dream Wonder pressed powder. It’s similar to MAC Blot Powder, which is amazing for reducing shine and making oily skin feel more comfortable.

Keep me posted on how things work out for you! xo


Christina 6 January 2014 at 2:15 am

So, I’m finding out that Hydraluron is definitely not easily available in the US, which is where I am (Florida, specifically!). I don’t mind jumping through hoops for it, but how do you get it? :)

Thanks so much for taking the time to help me out. It feels so nice for someone to actually care.

Another thing I forgot to mention before is that my skin only calmed down when I introduced Tea Tree oil into my daily makeup and skincare routine. Same as you, natural salicylic acid works for me as a spot treatment, but the synthetic breaks me out.


Janine 6 January 2014 at 4:04 am

I totally understand about unhappy skin, Christina. Mine made me sad for years. Not fun. Hopefully we can help your skin cheer up!

Interesting re: Hydraluron by Indeed Labs. According to the website, it should be available at Walgreens and Duane Reade. Here’s the link to the product page; there’s a where-to-buy page, too. You might also be able to contact Indeed Labs for more distribution information. http://indeedlabs.com/hydraluron

If Hydraluron continues to elude you, you just want a hyaluronic-acid serum or a hydrating serum. Vichy Aqualia Thermale serum is good, but it’s $36 US, a bit more pricey. (http://www.vichyusa.com/_us/_en/face-care/serums/aqualia-thermal-serum.htm)

A line called Avene has a really good hydrating serum too, but it’s even more expensive than the Vichy. Here’s a link for reference: http://www.aveneusa.com/products/categories/serums/thermal-spring-water-soothing-serum

Not too many drugstore brands make hydrating serums, unfortunately. I expect to see one soon from Garnier or Olay (I just figure those two brands will get there first), but until then there isn’t much. Let me do a little digging for you, though, just to double check.

Now that I think of it, though, in terms of overall skincare, have you tried the Burt’s Bees anti acne line? It’s a complete line of cleanser, toner, spot treatment and moisturizer with natural salicylic acid (willow-bark extract). It’s really gentle on skin. http://www.burtsbees.com/Natural-Acne-Solutions/naturalAcneSolutions,default,sc.html

Because the Nip & Fab is gentle, too, you should be able to use those pads if you’re also using the Burt’s Bees. I’d still recommend the additional hydrating serum to help keep skin calm, though. :-)


Becca M. 4 March 2014 at 12:36 pm

Hi Janine, I too stumbled across your blog randomly when searching for something else. Thanks for the info! Was just wondering if I could pick your brain a bit. I have had an ongoing battle with acne (oily all over, cystic, white heads, and black heads) and have had the best results with combining a benzoyl peroxide face wash with a salicylic acid blemish treatment (both Neutrogena). I was my face and apply the blemish treatment twice a day. However, recently I have had a moderately severe flare up of acne mainly on the left side of my face (no new changes in skin care, don’t primarily sleep on the left side of my face, and I wash my linens frequently). I’m talking continuous cystic breakouts. I was thinking of adding the glycolic acid into my routine to see if it helps. Is it safe to add when already using benzoyl peroxide AND salycylic acid products. If so, how? I really truly appreciate any insight you may have, and thank you!


Janine 26 May 2014 at 7:46 am

Hi Becca,

Sorry about the delay in this reply — how’s your skin now? You could try adding a mild glycolic step to your routine, maybe a 6 percent solution, or 8 percent max, as an overall toner at least once per day. (I like glycolic as toner because it’s easy to slip into a routine.) Keep using the benzoyl peroxide face wash, and you should still be able to use salicylic acid as a spot treatment. If your skin gets red and dry, then scale back on the glycolic usage.

Do you use a moisturizer? You must, something light and oil-free. As well, I suggest Indeed Labs Hydraluron, a light gel that is almost all hyaluronic acid. A little bit of that before you moisturize will help balance the oiliness of your skin. (I’ve seen it make a HUGE difference in oil-slick problem complexions.)

Keep me posted?


Vicky 22 May 2014 at 2:02 pm

Just stumbled across your blog looking at nail polishes, but then I found this page and I have so many questions LOL! I’m 29 years old, and have recently been trying to take care of my skin with Neutrogena’s Rapid wrinkle repair with retinol. I’m starting to see fine lines around my eye. I’ve been using it for about 2 months. As a teen I got the occasional breakouts, but recently my breakouts have been worse on my cheeks. They are under the skin and painful, take forever to go away and leave dark marks on my skin. I hate it. I would like to try glycolic acid to help with the breakouts, but can I use it when I’m using retinol. If not, how do I take care of breakouts and anti-aging?


Janine 26 May 2014 at 8:02 am

Hi Vicky,

I’m working on a post about this — I spoke to a derm about this very question. His advice is that you’ll have to give it a try and keep an eye on how your skin responds. If it gets dry, red and irritated, you’ll have to adjust your routine, either by scaling back the glycolic to every other day or twice a week, or using just glycolic instead of retinol. Glycolic is really good at smoothing the surface of the skin, so you still get anti-aging benefits.

If you’re also dealing with dark marks, you might want to switch to the Neutrogena Rapid Tone Repair, which has retinol AND Vitamin C to help fade pigmentation.

Keep me posted, okay? If your skin doesn’t like the combination of glycolic toner + Rapid Wrinkle/Rapid Tone, we can look at other options (there are lots).


Joelle 10 June 2014 at 10:22 pm

My favorite article so far on your blog! Wish I saw it earlier. Will come back to it when I run out of skincare products. Maybe having good skin is not a crazy dream :)


Scarlett 11 July 2014 at 12:59 pm

Oh my god! The Neostrata Toning Level 2 is just spectacular! It was like watching my pores close right in front of my eyes haha! I think this is the best recommendation anyone has ever made for skin care


Janine 11 July 2014 at 1:59 pm

I’m so glad it’s working for you, Scarlett! It was life-changing for me, too :-) xo


Jen 25 July 2014 at 9:27 am

I just purchased the glycolic acid pads by nip fab. Can you recommend a serum to use with them. I bought the olay night time elixir a few days ago but am thinking they are not good to use at the same time. Any suggestions of something reasonably priced would be awesome! I’m 35 with dehydrated clogged skin with scarring. Really hope to get it back into shape. Love all of your reviews!!


Janine 5 August 2014 at 12:43 am

Hi Jen,

Sorry about the delay! Actually, you should be okay to use the Olay — it’s very, very mild, only about 3 or 4% glycolic acid. You might like to try using the glycolic acid pads only in the morning and the Olay at night. If your skin starts to feel dry or look red or feel irritated, you know it’s too much.

Nip & Fab actually has a whole glycolic acid line that I need to write about soon. They’ve been out since last year or before, but I’ve only just now got around to trying them, and I like them very much.

Are you also using a hydrating serum to help with the dehydration?


wendy 7 August 2014 at 6:26 pm

I just came across your post. I love Reviva 10% glycolic. I use it three times per week. Start with the 5% cream if your skin is not used to acids. It is cheap on Amazon and has clean ingredients/


Jen 8 August 2014 at 12:47 am

Thanks so much for the feedback and suggestions. I just started doing the oil cleanse method and it seems to be helping the dehydration but I’m still on the market for a serum. I’ve never tried the Reviva products but I may pick one up with my Ulta coupons. Thanks so much. I just found this site and it is now my go to site for reviews!! Keep up the good work ladies


Janine 8 August 2014 at 1:07 am

I’ve actually never tried Reviva, Jen, so do let me know what you think if you go that route. I tend to prefer lower concentrations I can use daily — it’s kinder to the skin overall. Irritation usually means inflamed angry skin, which just pushes the fast-forward button on aging.

I also don’t put any stock in so-called “clean” ingredients. Most of that is just fear-mongering from people who shamelessly misuse the word “toxic” as a label for anything synthetic, and don’t understand that natural ingredients can cause bad reactions, too.


Pamela 2 September 2014 at 10:32 am

Hi Janine,

Could you please tell me of a reliable site i could order the neostrata products from? I am currently in New Zealand and have issue like most readers here have mentioned. I am 33 but fortunately get pegged to be around 22 or 24. Which i am not complaining about at all! :)
However, i would love to look and just the way your skin is right now even years from now. And although i dont have skin that breaks out, i tend to have an oily complexion which over the years ive figured out how to manage. Also do the glycolic peels and love them. I get an occasional (mostly just 1) during the time closer to my periods but that about it. So my main concern is the dehyrdated skin look and overall maintenance with exfoliation and toning and creams.



Jess 16 November 2014 at 12:24 pm

I am 23. My skin is sensitive and oily, has blotchy redness, and a combo of cystic acne and blackheads. I have tried introducing 2X a week exfoliation, toner, AM/PM beauty oil, and sensitive skin moisturizers in my regimen. Although my skin is smoother, the aforementioned problems have not gone away.

If I introduce glycolic acid and hyaluronic acid into my skin care routine, how often should I use the glycolic acid? And can I use the two together or should I only use one at a time?



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