Q. I have been applying mandelic acid 15% every other day for a week. I have noticed my skin has gone kind of crinkly and dry but moisturiser doesn’t seem to help. What should I do?
A. Don’t worry, this is a common problem for people using treatment strength alpha hydroxy acid products for the first time. It is caused by applying too often or starting out with a product that is too strong, too soon.
It can be hard for an inexperienced user to know which is the best strength product to add to their routine. Whilst it is possible to categorise your skin into a certain broad type — oily, problem, combination, dry — your skin is still unique to you. Generally all skin needs to adjust to treatment strength alpha hydroxy products (the same is true for retinoid treatments). For this reason it is strongly recommended that you start with a low strength product and allow your skin to acclimatise.
Of course, we all get impatient at times. After all who doesn’t want quick results? This is especially true if you are treating an unwelcome issue such as pimples or spots. So what should you do if you have applied too much too soon?
The answer is simple. Stop using your product for the time being. Don’t worry – you will still be able to use the product and achieve the results you were hoping for; it will just require a bit of patience.
First, it is important to know that the crinkly dry texture that arises due to over application is not *true* dryness. It is caused by a purging of the top dead skin cells. This is in fact exactly what should happen, it is just that it is happening a little too quickly for optimum skin feel. To treat this problem do not apply extra moisturising creams. They will combine with the dead skin that your skin is trying to purge and you run the risk of blocking your pores. Instead, apply a hydrating water based serum such as our Clarity-C serum.
Second, help the exfoliating process along by using a mild skin scrub, electronic sonic face brush or a good old fashioned flannel. In addition consider using our Ultralase AHA face wash. Not only will this help dissolve the top layers of dead skin it will also speed up your skins acclimatisation to using acid treatments. Because it is a rinse off cleanser it can be used twice daily without the risk of peeling.
Finally, after a week introduce a treatment product again. Consider opting for a lower strength serum. You can also buffer the acid serum by applying a light neutral moisturising lotion first (or mixing it in your hand first). This will slow down the rate of absorption and decrease irritation. Apply once a week and increase to twice weekly after a fortnight.