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A Kinder, Gentler Acid Is About to Take the Skin Care World by Storm

It's time to meet AHA's and BHA's sensitive sister, PHA
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Skin care acids have been around for decades, but ingredients like lactic, glycolic and salicylic acids seem to get all the attention. Lately, a new acid has been gaining steam, thanks in large part to buzzy beauty brand Glossier, which just dropped a product called Solution. Suddenly, polyhydroxy acid is the acid to know.

"Polyhydroxy acids (PHAs) represent a newer generation of alpha hydroxy acids (AHA); the most common are gluconolactone, galactose and lactobionic acid," says board-certified dermatologist, Dr. Neil Sadick. "Their main purpose is to exfoliate the skin, removing the dead cells, but since they are also hydrophilic molecules, they attract and retain moisture in the skin." Meaning, they're a whole lot gentler than your typical acid, which can often dry out skin.

But that's not all. "Skin care products containing PHAs give your beauty routine an instant upgrade," Sadick says. "Not only can they exfoliate, moisturize and clear the skin, but they are also rich in antioxidants that protect the skin against free radicals, combat redness and inflammation, and stimulate wound healing pathways." Since PHAs are safe for all skin types, high in efficacy and have few side effects, expect to see the ingredient used in daily moisturizers, serums and face masks in the near future, especially now that a 20-year patent has just expired.

Ready to be a PHA early adopter? Read on for some effective products containing polyhydroxy acids and keep an eye out for more to come in the future.

Image via Imaxtree

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Glossier Solution, $24
Looking for a solution for your dry, dull, acne-prone complexion? Look no further than this pretty pink magic in a bottle. Formulated with a 10% blend of AHAs, BHAs and PHAs for maximum efficacy, swipe this solution on for a smoother, brighter, more balanced complexion. Everyone will want to know where you got that glow.

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Exuviance is one of just a handful of brands currently relying on the powers of PHAs. This moisturizer is made to protect and correct the visible signs of aging for dry and sensitive skin. PHAs, when paired with the brand's Bionic complex, work to smooth skin texture and tone, while reducing vulnerability to redness and irritation with a strengthened skin barrier.

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More of a serum girl? Try using this volumizing PHA-infused formula formulated with a proprietary triple anti-aging complex to help volumize and sculpt skin. With continued use, you can expect a reduction in the appearance of fine lines and deep wrinkles, as well as complexion clarity and overall smoothness. What's more, with deeply penetrating hyaluronic acid, you can expect a nourished, hydrated and soothed visage.

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PCA Skin Acne Cream, $28
If you struggle with acne, you might be nervous to expose your skin to acids due to sensitivity and being prone to breakouts. No worries, though! With this PHA-infused acne cream, you'll be able to quickly address and clear blemishes, while supporting a soothed complexion that's less likely to breakout.

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