There’s a product within the beauty aisles which is largely unsung but BOY IS IT USEFUL. Imagine for a moment, one product that can vanish fine lines, combat spots, reduce hyper-pigmentation, prevent ingrown hairs, brighten your complexion and help your skincare products absorb better – all in a few seconds. If you haven’t already, meet exfoliating pads, the hardest-working beauty item you can buy.
You will find exfoliating pads on most high streets with many brands making them a variety of price points. The name is admittedly unsexy, and the purpose of them is usually bucketed in with acne treatment, so if you don’t suffer spots then you might not think to use them. However, exfoliating pads are everyone’s friend. They come pre-soaked in a variety of acids – depending on the brand – plus complimenting skin-soothing ingredients.
Now, when I say acid I know it’s hard not to think ‘SULPHURIC!’ and burnt school lab coats, but these pads use alpha and beta hydroxy acids such as glycolic, lactic and salicylic, which are all commonly used in skincare, and have a hugely beneficial effect. There is no wash-off required, just sweep the pad over the area you want to treat and that’s it, which makes it number one in the convenience stakes.
The purpose of using an exfoliant is to gently unclog and resurface the skin which keeps it smooth and healthy. The acids melt the bonds between old skin cells helping to lift them away, so when you sweep over an exfoliating pad, you are effectively speeding up the sloughing process that happens naturally anyway. This is especially useful when you have congested or dull skin, visible open pores and lines. (But it is also helpful when a random ingrown hair starts grumbling, or you have a patch of badly applied fake tan to erase.) It’s best to use an exfoliating pad after cleansing but before you apply any further skincare. You’ll find your serums and skin creams will absorb better directly afterwards which will give your skin a further boost. If you have sensitive skin, go easy, and only use an exfoliating pad twice a week and see how you go. If you aren’t and have visible ageing concerns or spots, then you can use an exfoliating pad every day.
Here are my five current favourites:
The Bargain Buy: Nip+Fab Glycolic Fix Daily Cleansing Pads
These contain a decent concentration of glycolic acid, which is especially good for brightening and evening out skin tone. And the addition of hydrating hyaluronic acid helps to plump up the skin.
The Gentle Choice: First Aid Beauty Facial Radiance Pads
Free of harsh ingredients, this blend of lactic and glycolic acid with cucumber and gooseberry makes these pads gentle yet effective so even sensitive skins can enjoy the brightening benefits of exfoliating. And they smell lovely.
The Skin Reviver: Colbert MD Intensify Facial Discs
Expensive but for skin that is very dull, lined and in need of a concentrated boost these individually packaged discs (good for travel) have a punchy dose of Bromelain (a pineapple enzyme that munches through dead skin) and Lactic Acid plus skin-nourishing glucosamine.
The Spot Treatment: Bliss That’s Incredi-‘peel’ Glycolic Resurfacing Pads
Suitably punchy, medicinal pads which are best used at night. They contain time-release technology which drip feeds the re-texurising ingredients long after you have swiped the pad over the face. Licorice and witch hazel calm and tone and the glycolic powers through scarring and clogged skin.
The All Rounder: Peter Thomas Roth Max Complexion Correction Pads
These double-sided pads contain a mix of alpha and beta hydroxy acids to combat acne and wrinkles, so these are ideal for mid-thirties skin which can be juggling both concerns. They are also loaded with anti-oxidant green tea extract to protect against pollution.