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Spot Treatment: Neostrata Toning Solution + Six Usage Tips

Glycolic acid is a clear-complexion, anti-aging MVP ingredient. But you need to know how to use it without upsetting your skin.
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NeoStrata Level 1 Toning Solution_8% Glycolic Acid Toner

The term "adult acne" is such a misnomer. If acne were adult, it would damn well know not to go where it isn't wanted. Damnit.

My acne-invasion happened when I hit about 23. Colonies thrived on my forehead, nose, chin and jawline. You don't need the unpretty details, so I'll fast-forward to the solution: a prescription for 2% Clindamycin in a Neostrata 8% glycolic acid toner. Twice daily applications banished those complexion trespassers within a month or so and kept my skin clear for years afterward. At some point I dared to drop the prescription part (Clindamycin is a topical antibiotic) and bought Neostrata 8% Glycolic Acid Toner right off the drugstore shelves instead; my skin stayed clear.

Six glycolic-acid tips:

1) Glycolic acid is an AHA, a chemical exfoliant that with regular use removes the outermost layers of dead cells from skin. It can help clear problem skin, smooth a rough complexion, and reduce the look of fine lines.

2) Glycolic acid isn't for the super sensitive. (My skin's a tad sensitive -- the 8% glycolic acid solution occasionally itches, occasionally stings. I don't mind, though. If my skin's upset I just skip a day or two.)

3) Glycolic acid dries oily skin out enough to kick sebum production into overdrive, so use a light moisturizer immediately after toner or skin will reach oil-slick levels within 30 minutes. (Folks with drier skin may need a richer moisturizer than before.)

4) Glycolic acid makes skin much more vulnerable to sun damage, so daily SPF 30 on treated skin is mandatory.

5) Glycolic acid products shouldn't be used with other anti-aging products that contain Retin-A or retinol unless your derm tells you different. And if you're younger than your late 30s, you don't need other anti-aging products. You'd also need to approach microdermabrasion or home derm kits with caution. The combination could stress your skin out and actually accelerate aging.

6) Neostrata's 8% Glycolic Acid Toner was recently re-packaged simply as Neostrata Toning Solution ($25.50 CAN/$23 US). It still contains the same level of glycolic acid, and it's available on drugstore shelves.

This stuff's been part of my skincare regimen for more than 10 years, and for most of that it was the only anti-aging product in my arsenal. I used a simple cleanser for oily skin, a super-gentle daily exfoliating paste, the toner and a simple, hydrating moisturizer (plus SPF), and my skin looks better now than it did in my 20s.

I know what works for me won't necessarily work for you, but it's an option to try if you haven't found your own solution yet.

Image courtesy of Canderm Pharma Inc. Neostrata Toning Solution is available at drugstores and at (free shipping anywhere in Canada; no minimum order).