The benefits of glycolic acid are many. It’s the best way to exfoliate, but all the other perks are almost even better: it speeds up cell turnover, increases collagen production, helps smooth away wrinkles, clears pores, and allows your skin to achieve maximum absorption, so you get the most out of your products.
I always want the strongest acid level because I’m anxious to get results, but my skin can’t handle it. Malin + Goetz’s pads have 10% medical-grade glycolic acid; however, the pads themselves have a slight abrasion to the texture, so the acid penetrates deeper. Which means the immediate dead skin cells are sloughed away while applying.
Their instructions say to leave the residue on your face for 20 minutes. That is, until continued use allows your skin to tolerate it longer. Then let the acid penetrate overnight for maximum results. (If you find yourself burning and itching and you can’t take it anymore, then, of course, wash it off. The effectiveness decreases after steady use anyway, so if you leave it on for an hour at first, the effect will be the same as overnight.)
As for me, I felt stinging and unease but not so much that I couldn’t deal. Besides, I love the satisfaction of knowing the exfoliating pads are helping the acid get deep into my skin and making instant improvements. At Barneys New York for $48.