I have not been the kindest to my skin recently. New Year’s resolutions and good habits inspired by TikTok’s 'That Girl' trend (I know, I know) slipped thanks to work, moving house and general living-through-a-pandemic stress, which has all shown up on my face. I’m in need of a quick fix so when Nip + Fab’s Glycolic Fix Daily Cleansing Pads landed on my desk last week, I was more than a little excited.
According to reviews on the brand's website, it's a wonder product. Comment after comment claims that it transforms skin in just three days, while TikTokers say the pads help with acne scars. But as a skincare writer I am naturally cynical. Does it really stand up to all this hype? With stubborn stress acne, scarring and textured skin to combat, I put Nip + Fab to the test.
What is glycolic acid and how does it work?
The star ingredient in these exfoliating pads is glycolic acid, derived from sugar cane. Simply put, glycolic acid is an alpha hydroxy acid (AHA) which is used for chemical exfoliation of the skin. It’s easy to be turned off by the idea of putting acid on your face — or even the term 'chemical exfoliation' — but this is no Samantha Jones in that episode of Sex and The City situation. Rather, glycolic acid is an expert favourite for treating skin staining left behind by spots and uneven skin tone and texture.
"AHAs dissolve the bonds that hold dull, dead skin cells together so they gently shed, revealing brighter, smoother skin underneath," explains dermatologist Hadley King M.D. This 'peeling' effect can leave skin looking smoother, brighter and more even as it clears out oil and dead skin from pores — all the gunk that typically causes acne, too. Glycolic acid doesn’t just help the appearance of skin; it’s also a humectant, meaning it attracts water molecules to itself. This is a dream for people with dry skin especially, who find other acne-fighting agents like salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide drying.
What are Nip + Fab’s Glycolic Fix Daily Cleansing Pads and how do they work?
Glycolic acid isn’t a new thing in skincare. We’ve seen Pixi's Glow Tonic and Glossier's Solution (plus plenty of dupes) topping 'must have' lists for a while now. What makes Nip + Fab’s Glycolic Fix Daily Cleansing Pads different is that the acid is already concentrated into facial pads, making it so much easier to exfoliate your face. There are 100 pads in the XXL pack so there’s no worry of running out quickly.
The brand’s Daily Cleansing Pads differ from the Night Pads in that they have a lower quantity of glycolic acid (2.8% as opposed to 5%). This means that they are gentler on skin that faces day-to-day aggressions. To help skin further, the pads are also soaked in a hydrating and moisturising blend of hyaluronic acid and blue daisy to refresh, soothe and calm skin. Perfect for irritated, acne-prone complexions.
How often should I use glycolic acid and when should I use it in my skincare routine?
This really depends on your skin type and how used it is to glycolic acid (or other AHAs, for example lactic acid). If you are new to chemical exfoliants, you need to build up tolerance first. Light tingling and redness is common for beginners. Start slowly and give your skin time to adjust to the acid, using the Cleansing Pads just twice or three times a week at first. As with any new skincare product, always carry out a patch test before applying, avoid your eyes and never use on peeling or irritated skin.
While the Daily Cleansing Pads can be used every day, most experts would advise harnessing the power of glycolic acid at night. As with all AHAs, it will make your skin more sensitive to sunlight and therefore sunburn. Applying it during your nighttime routine gives it ample time to work its magic without that higher risk of sun damage. If you are using the pads in the morning, always be sure to wear SPF of 30 or above, too. Either way, use the pads after cleansing skin and before any serums and creams.
Do Nip + Fab’s Glycolic Fix Daily Cleansing Pads really transform your skin in just three days?
My skin has definitely improved in three days. The troublesome acne on my chin dried out and was minimised, the whiteheads hanging around my nose cleared up and my pores seemed tighter. As well as this, the texture on my jaw and neck (which never seems to budge) was smoothed out and my skin is more glowing for it. Even some annoying under-the-skin spots disappeared by day three.
Personally though, with my skin on the drier side, I find the pads too much to use every day but I’m keen to incorporate them into my existing nighttime routine, alternating them with my retinol. I’ve also found that my skin loves following up Nip + Fab’s pads with a dose of ultra moisturising hyaluronic acid serum as the newly surfaced skin cells lap up the extra boost of hydration.
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