One of Hollywood's top celeb aestheticians has a challenge she'd like us all to try: Give up topical acids — from your anti-blemish face wash with salicylic acid to your brightening serum with glycolic acid and your skin-smoothing nightly retinol — and prepare for better skin because of it. (And yes, if you're asking...retinol is an acid, too.)
You think you're exfoliating, but you're really making your skin more photosensitive by creating a low-grade burn...
As convincing as Radu's reasoning may be, it's important to remember that other experts are taking a less extreme and more measured approach to the very same issue. According to American Academy of Dermatology member and board-certified dermatologist Elizabeth Tanzi, MD, "You can become slightly more photosensitive with alpha and beta hydroxy acids and retinols, because they help to exfoliate the top layer of skin. Healthy skin is nicely exfoliated, but it turns out the dead skin on the top layer does give you a bit of sun protection."
Luckily, quitting acids is very easy to do — said no skin-care junkie, ever.
Radu isn't alone in her messaging — but she has been dubbed "the no-acid facialist" (her words, not ours) — which means she's leading the charge in perpetually sunny Southern California. However, she also understands that moving to a more holistic skin-care approach takes some compromise. Translation: Many of her clients have arrived kicking and screaming.
I see tons of people overdoing retinols, overdoing glycolic, and then, they're going to have trouble...
Radu knows that this will not work for everyone or every situation. In fact, she has some tips to implement if you fall somewhere in the middle of the issue. The most useful being her tip for breakouts. Blemishes happen — and many OTC topical treatments are acid-based — so Radu suggests applying them only to the area to be treated and mixed 50/50 with a simple everyday lotion, which will aid in the exfoliation without over-drying your entire complexion. When it comes to acid-based prescription products or those recommended by your derm — like those for brown sports, melasma, or acne — she instructs her clients be very precise by applying with a Q-tip. "It takes extra time, but it's the only way you won't affect the surrounding skin," she explains.