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Much like a pesky ingrown hair (or a pesky ex), keratosis pilaris is difficult to get rid of. I would know, seeing as I've tried just about every KP product under the sun in an effort to treat the textured bumps on my upper arms. Well, all except for one: The Ordinary's glycolic acid toner — an under-$15 solution that caught my eye after my dermatologist, Dr Dendy Engelman, MD, recommended an AHA product to help treat my KP.
Because of my olive complexion, one major concern was the hyperpigmentation that accompanies my KP bumps. (Even my fairer-skinned twin sister, who also suffers from KP, deals with dry reddish bumps that are often mistaken for a rash.) "KP is caused by the retention of excess keratin that builds up inside hair follicles and forms rough hard plugs. How that looks and feels varies from person to person given their complexion and the severity of the condition," Dr Engelman explained. And that's where the glycolic acid comes into play: "My favourite products for keratosis pilaris involve keratolytics — ingredients that can break up that excess keratin build up — such as alpha-hydroxy acids, like lactic acid and glycolic acid, and beta hydroxy acids like salicylic acid," Dr Engelman shared. So, after digging deep into Reddit threads heralding The Ordinary's glycolic toner's benefits, it was game time.
When my bottle arrived, I was surprised to see how large it was: 240ml! I took a shower, towelled off, dispensed a few drops onto my palms (I find that cotton pads tend to absorb product, and I fully intended on employing every last drop), and then applied the solution directly to my arms. My skin drank it up with no sticky residue or lingering tingle sensations left behind — it felt, surprisingly, like nothing.
After applying the toner to my arms every other night for a week, I was shocked to see and feel my skin: it was touchably smoother and looked so much more even. "Glycolic acid is the smallest acid in size, meaning the molecule is the most effective in penetrating the dermis to weaken cell bonds deep within the skin," Dr Engelman explained. "In your case, you may have needed a stronger acid, like glycolic [instead of lactic acid], to see major results." Bingo.
In the past, I had found the most success with beauty products that weren't expressly labelled for KP and this toning solution from The Ordinary took those findings to the next level. It's been a few months since I first took the before picture above — and now, as you can see in my after shot, my arms are so much smoother and brighter.
With continued use, I've managed to keep those pesky bumps at bay and, as an added summer bonus, I no longer feel self-conscious when I throw on a tank top. My one gripe (when forced to find one) is that the solution is a tad bit strong for my sensitive skin, so I don't actually use it on my face. But, given its generous size and the fact that I'm barely halfway through the bottle, I'm perfectly content with letting this $14.50 miracle toner be my dedicated body-care MVP.