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the extra ordinary

The Greatest Exfoliating Acid

Phoebe’s hero exfoliating acid might become your hero exfoliating acid. If you buy one thing today, make it this.


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The gateway acid that I’m yet to hear anyone mutter a less-than exemplary word about. The thing that made me realise how totally transformative skincare can be, because I tend to gravitate toward the, ‘my Grandma never had glycolic acid and she coped just fine, thanks’, school of thought. But this. This is a coping mechanism in itself, and not just for mottled, meh skin, but for every feeling that kind of skin spawns.

It is beloved for its exfoliating beta hydroxy acid which pressure washes pores like weeds on a garden path, and also salicylic acid, which does something similar to spots. After the first, err, high, you’ll be hooked, ready to pile the stuff on every - other - night in a bid to replicate the initial and delicious delirium of squeaky clean, crystal-clear skin. I’ve been using it for three years, and tolerance has yet to render it inept.

"But this. This is a coping mechanism in itself, and not just for mottled, meh skin, but for every feeling that kind of skin spawns."


I use it twice weekly on two drenched cotton pads, and am particularly attentive around my nose. (A make-up artist once told me the first place people notice when talking to you is your nose. By virtue of its protrusion, I imagine?). My nose is where my pores drive me to furious distraction, and this not only excavates them, but transforms the texture of my cheeks, chin and forehead around them, and to the point that I resemble a smooth, shiny meringue, which let me tell you, is a delight to accompany with cream.

Usually the kind of product that yields such results makes you feel as though you’ve washed your face in ethanol, and that something might rupture if you so much as blink. I think somewhere along the line brands decided that the instant gratification of a product was tantamount to its efficacy. If it feeeels like it’s doing something, it must be doing something, right? (Wrong). But scrap that thought altogether because this feels and does. And no, you won’t peel. That’s reserved for retinol, which you can use in tandem, but you will want - and need - to alternate the two.

The functional packaging is just as reassuring as the scientific-sounding name. And the more than affordable price tag fits my maxim that skincare doesn’t need to cost the earth. You won’t be the first person to describe an experience with acid as ‘transformative’, but you could - potentially - be one of the freshest.

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