acids & retinol -all you need to know

We know it can be confusing! which acid and/or retinol should you be using? how often? am or pm? what's it doing anyway...we know, that's why we are here to help you. this month's skglog is going to break through the minefield of information and give you the clarity you need to make the right product decisions - glow-on...and if you still have questions, just ask!

aha's - Alpha Hydroxy Acid

AHAs help exfoliate the dead layers of the skin on the outermost layer using a sugar-based acid. There are several different kinds of AHAs and they all do different things for different skin types. We have several products that can be safely used on a weekly basis to improve texture, acne, brightening, or skin tone. AHAs are also great on the body to reduce conditions like Keratosis pilaris on the arms and legs, sun damage, scars… the list goes on!

What do they do? They create collagen in the skin, making cells turn over faster and the skin healthier.

NB: Don’t use AHAs with retinol.

Glycolic Acid

a derivative from sugar cane glycolic acid is great for pigmentation, acne, and wrinkles. Used in moderation it can drastically improve skin texture and even lighten scarring. If you have never used it before then you will definitely have to build up some tolerance but after just a couple of weeks, you will notice the changes.

One of our favs with glycolic is our Unblemished face wash.

It is a probiotic glycolic cleanser. Great for both men and women.

Best used in the evenings! Also, the SGL exfoliating pads, are great for the face and body. Use 1x weekly only as You don’t want to overuse AHAs or combine them with other certain acids.

Lactic Acid

is present in dairy and fermented vegetables. Great for dry or sensitive skin. Helps lighten and brighten dark spots too.

Malic Acid

comes from apple acids, and It's what gives fruits a sour taste.

It exfoliates the dead layers dislodging pore impurities and smoothing the texture of the skin to reduce fine lines and wrinkles. Works great as a solo ingredient and is mostly found in serums and peels.

Citric Acid

which is present in citrus fruits; limes, lemons, grapefruit, and oranges. One of my favs because it helps brighten the skin's pigmentation. It has astringent properties and acts as a chemical exfoliant. Maybe not the best choice for sensitive skin types but it does pairs well with other AHAs. Holds a high concentration of antioxidants and helps maintain a good PH balance.

Mandelic Acid

contains a larger molecule derived from almond extracts. It can be used to increase exfoliation with other AHAs. The least common ingredient we use- it has its perks like improving pore size and texture.

Tartaric acid

comes from grapes. Not as common of an AHA to be in products but it does its job of helping improve skin texture and age management. Tartaric acid has become a common ingredient in skin care products due to its keratolytic and astringent properties. It moisturizes the skin, stimulates the metabolism, promotes healing and it also has an anti-aging effect.

Salicylic acid

this is the most common BHA. Well known to treat acne but also a great anti-aging ingredient when used properly. Derived from Willow Bark, it can penetrate deeper down into the dead skin cells for a deep clean. Epionce Purifying wash is great for acne on the face and body and has a 2% Salyatic for home use.

what's the difference between AHA and BHA?

BHA, Beta Hydroxy Acid, or aha, alpha hydroxy acid? neither type of hydroxy acid is “better” than the other. Both are highly effective methods of deep exfoliation and can decrease inflammation, improve overall skin texture, unclog pores and decrease the appearance of large pores and wrinkles.

Can they be mixed?

Short answer – yes, but not for everyone. Combining them can cause irritation, so if you are prone to dry skin, sensitivity, or redness, stick to just one. On the other hand, if you have oily skin, combining BHAs and AHAs may be safe and even beneficial.


Drench me in Peptides! We can all use peptides to promote longevity in the skin. Peptides are a chain of amino acids made up of certain proteins to stimulate collagen production. We know collagen can create firmer, brighter, more youthful skin, so definitely have a good product in your lineup that holds peptide properties. They are great for all skin types even sensitive.

Some of my favorite products we have in the clinic with Peptides is our Ageless line (Silk suds

has peptides in it,

Dew you mist, Ageless serum)

and Glymed has an Intense Peptide serum that everyone falls in

love with after using it. Peptides are great combined with AHA/BHAs to enhance treatment results. Peptides are also a delivery system in most skincare routines which means they can make other products more effective when used together. Example: Peptides and Vit C or Peptides and Retinol.

Vitamin E

Found in lots of skincare products because Vitamin E is a potent antioxidant and does numerous things for the skin. Starting with protection from UV damage it’s a great topical for day use. Lots of serums and moisturizers will have Vit E as a main ingredient and it’s high inflammatory. Almost all of the SGL products contain a little form of Vit E as It helps fight off free radical damage which ultimately is what breaks down a healthy functioning factory in the skin.

Pairs great with other antioxidants like Vitamin C making the delivery of your Vit C more effective. It has soothing, calming benefits and is great for post-care to reduce healing time.


There are several forms and topics to discuss when it comes to retinol, such as:

Retinyl Palmitate

It's an Over-the-counter (OTC) form and least potent. Don’t waste your time and money! This retinol needs to be broken down 3 different times in the skin for it to be effective and for you to see results.


another OTC form and once absorbed into the skin it converts into retinoic acid. It takes longer to see results because it is a gentler form but can be effective.


This is the next step after retinol. higher potency as it only needs to be converted 1x into the skin before it starts to work! It's good for those that aren't quite ready for the prescription version but a step above OTC. You can find this in a lot of professional lines for a less aggressive Vitamin A approach.


is a prescription level Vitamin A, and a more potent retinoid. results are faster, but you definitely have to build tolerance and train your skin. most people have some redness, dryness, flakiness initially, which is normal, and part of the process. this is a Great choice for age management and acne clients with oil production and active breakouts.

You use a pea-size amount all over the face at night only, after cleansing, and follow with hydrating products like Hyaluronic acid and Peptides. These will also help counteract the dryness that can occur from daily retinoid use. Our NP, Jenna can prescribe Tretinoin to you in the clinic for home use. We carry all strengths from Obagi Med.

Different strengths for different skin concerns and conditions.


the strongest form of retinol and primarily used to treat acne. not to be compared with any otc product, Adapalene goes far beyond just being a good spot treatment for pimples and blackheads it is a prescription-based retinoic acid and dermatologists love it! Our Nurse practitioners can also recommend one for you if needed. It slows the process of hyperkeratinization, or excessive growth in the lining of pores, and desensitizes the skin to inflammations. Studies indicate that Adapalene has less irritating side effects than other retinoids which is why it's so great for acne.

some of Our fav retinol are SGL Vit AYY

which is great for a retinol newbie,

or someone that is intolerable of

Tret. It’s great for smoothing and

tightening and is blended with Peptides

which we all love.

Skin better Alpharet cream is an amazing retinoid cream for PM use. It is also blended with different antioxidants and is gentle enough for all skin types, every night use if wanted. you can purchase skin better products on the link on our products page on the website.

Monthly Facials

All our treatments are custom and tailored to your skin needs. We have a huge variety of back-bar we use to give you exactly what your skin needs and it will be different every month! We use lots of Glymed in the treatment room, ingredients are potent, rich, and do exactly what they’re supposed to do. Using acids like Fulvic, Glycolic, Lactic, and Salicylic we can lightly exfoliate or deeply exfoliate. Some favs of ours are:

Chocolate Power peel

using 50% lactic acid to hydrate the skin's surface, while speeding up cell turnover, helping with redness and fading dark spots. Using a higher strength lactic some experience mild peeling from this one but most just see the great benefits it provides. Plumper, smoother, more hydrated, and brighter!

Epionce Salicylic and Malic Acid peels

We call these our red carpet peels. They can make you peel depending on how many layers we apply. Which is always consulted and talked about at your appointment. But one layer is the perfect reboot for the surface and helps with pigment, texture, pores, blackheads, and smoothing wrinkles. Best done in a series but can also be done a week before an event and you'll be gloooooowing!

Cytopeel facial

Ohhh this is my favorite, It's a hydra-facial, which means it utilizes multiple modalities to properly deep cleanse the skin, refresh with peptide infusion and cool down with cryotherapy & blue light LED massage. It basically sucks out all the gunk and then splurges the skin with all the good stuff. No downtime, instant glow and reset. The different serum infusions have a glycolic base, lactic or salicylic!

Glycolic Peel

from SkinBetter has become one of my go-to's in the treatment room! My staff would say the same. We offer a 30% or a 50%. You can't go wrong with a glycolic peel. Good for all skin types and concerns. Medical grade peels are on our menu priced at $225 and we do offer package discounts for treatments done in a series.


Hallelujah, Hallelujah! LOVE LOVE LOVE crazy-good results from our Morpheus8 device with In-mode Aesthetics. Complete body and face remodeling using Microneedling and Radio Frequency. Bridging the gap in lasers and surgery! We control the depths of the needles and t