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Have you ever wandered into your local Boots/Superdrug (or drugstore?) and wondered what all the different ranges of lovely new skincare products actually do, besides have really great packaging? In this post I’m talking about what Glycolic acid is, how it works for your skin, and if the affordable range from Nip & Fab actually works.
The Slice: Nip & Fab Glycolic Skincare Range
I’m fortunate enough to have relatively good skin and whilst my skincare routine has always featured minimal products, I generally only use products that I’ve spent a long time researching before taking the plunge and purchasing. When it comes to skincare I’m also one of those enabling people who, if you go into Boots with me and you’ve said you’re after a new moisturiser, will suggest you go to the higher end counters and invest in a good product because, after all, the skin on your face is the one area that will always need love and attention. Your face battles all the elements, all year around, and it deserves love and attention and good ingredients.
When I took a stroll into my local Superdrug to pick up a new cleansing water I noticed that the Nip & Fab Glycolic range was on offer (better than HALF PRICE). I already use Glycolic acids in my skincare routine in the form of the Mario Badescu Foaming Cleanser and the much loved Pixi Glow Tonic, but seeing as the Nip & Fab range had such a good offer on I decided to pick up the Exfoliating Pads, Serum and Moisturiser. After using these for over two months (and regretably forgetting to take a before and after picture) I decided to write a little post on my thoughts of the range, so keep on reading for my honest, in depth review for how they’ve performed for me below.
What is Glycolic Acid?
Now you might be thinking “hold up – why are you putting acid on your face?” if you’re not one for all things skincare and beauty, so let me give you a quick lowdown:
- Alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) is the group name for exfoliating chemical compounds.
- The most common AHAs used in skincare are Glycolic, Citric, Mandelic, Malic, Tartaric and Lactic.
- AHAs exfoliate the skin and stimulate collagen, whilst normalising the outer layer of the skin, or epidermis (the stratum corneum) and can regulate keratinization.
- AHAs are best used to reduce signs of aging.
- Glycolic acid is derived from sugar cane, and due to its small molecular makeup, it can easily penetrate the skin and therefore acts as an extremely effective exfoliator.
- Using glycolic acid will help your skin have a smoother texture, more elasticity and even your skin tone, because glycolic acid restores the essential components of the skin that are damaged as we age.
- As with any acid use you need to ensure you are using an SPF (but you should be using SPF anyway, even if you don’t currently use acids on your skin!).
With that said, how does the Nip & Fab affordable range hold up against all of the bold claims of how great glycolic acid can be for your skin?
The pads are (according to Nip & Fab) “soaked in exfoliating glycolic acid (2.8%)” to retexture and resurface the skin. As a cleansing pad, this is probably a good amount of the acid to start the skincare routine off with.
The texture of the round pad is surprisingly soft and generously damp with product, and a really nice refresh to your skin either morning or night (they also have an EXTREME Night version with 5% acid – which I wouldn’t call that extreme as the Pixi Glow tonic contains 5%). These pads also include a douse of the wonderful hyaluronic acid (one for a future post) so that whilst cleansing you have a dabble of moisture for your skin too.
Does this work? Honestly, I haven’t noticed a massive difference in how my skin looks or feels when I’ve used these as a standalone product. Throughout the weeks I had tried the products without the use of the others for at least a week. I would say that they cleaned my skin, but no better than a good micellar water and cotton pad would. I hadn’t noticed any brightening or suppleness that some reviews have suggested, but I also haven’t thrown them away because they are still a nice cleansing “wipe” in the morning or evening after makeup has been removed. That said, I have amped up my gym sessions a lot in the last few months, and I’ve used one pad as soon as I’m home to rid my skin of any residual sweat in the pores, and I would say it’s helped to keep gym related pimples at bay.
Perhaps if you don’t already use acids in your skincare you would see more noticeable effects of using this product and should probably test drive this first, but if you do already use acids then I would suggest that the Extreme Night Version is going to perform better for you.
Would I purchase this one again? Probably not. Would I purchase the Night Version to test how good that is in comparison? Definitely, whilst it’s still on offer.
As I feel neither here nor there about this product, I’m giving it 5/10.
The serum contains 4% glycolic acid, “PoreAway” (whatever TF that is) that supposedly minimises the appearance of large pores, and aloe vera to soothe and calm the skin. The serum itself pumps out in a silicone-like texture, and needs working into the skin quite quickly, and then there is some residual sticky silicone texture until it’s fully absorbed. It has a light, fresh scent which is pleasing, especially before bed.
Nip & Fab suggest that this is best used as an overnight serum. In reading reviews and blogs before purchasing this serum, I found several posts that suggested that the serum made them break out in unusual spots overnight, even though their skin was normally very compliant. Skeptical (because I have had rave review products make me severely break out even though I don’t have particularly sensitive skin – the Liz Earle Cleanse and Polish for one…) I was concerned with whether the serum would do the same. And it did. *Keep on scrolling if you don’t want to read my serum soliloquy*
This is the first product of the three that I had used when I purchased them, and the following morning I woke up with spots in two places on my face that never get spotty: smack bang on the centre of the apple my right cheek, and one just below my dark circle in line with my left tearduct. I’m mapping them so precisely because they’re such strange places for me to get spots. In fact, I can confidently say I’m 99% sure that I’ve NEVER had large, angry red spots in those locations before.
Naturally I felt very paranoid about their appearance, because if I get spots they’re in the normal hormonal places or around my hairline or forehead when I’ve been working out a lot, and I’ve grown accustom to the usual locations of my face dwellers. I felt the need to tell everyone (probably actually just one person) I’d seen the following day that I’d tested out a new skincare and it had resulted in some unusually located spots.
So I left it a week for the spots to go down. Each night I would side eye the serum on my bedside stand. I felt like it was taunting me, waiting for me to use it again so it could give me another strangely placed spot, like… on my other apple of my cheek… So in that week of serum-free skincare, I used the moisturiser (coming up). Now I don’t know if using the moisturiser had built up a resistance to the ingredients in the serum, but the next time I used the serum (cautiously) I woke up the next morning and there were no spots.
Long story short, I’m still very wary of this serum. I keep waiting for the next time it’s going to give me a spot. It’s not the percentage of the acid that had caused strange spots, as mentioned; the Pixi Glow Tonic contains the same amount of acid and I’ve never had an issue at all, so I’m sure there’s something else in the serum that had caused that reaction.
Does it work? With prolonged use I have noticed that my skin looks brighter in the morning when I’ve used the serum the night before, and washing it off with water in the shower I can feel my skin is smooth and supple. I’ve noticed my pores look clearer, but that could be an overall effect of using the range as a whole, not just this serum.
Ultimately I do like the product, but any product that I am essentially scared of using because of the potential effects makes me wary of its use, and it’s definitely not my favourite serum that I’ve ever used.
Even with the issues I’ve had with the serum, I’d still give it a 7.5/10 in terms of performance.
When it works – IT WORKS! Whilst the product is on offer, and if you’re someone with good skin, I would say purchase this if you’re in the market for a new serum or a product with a relative amount of glycolic acid.
I’ve saved the star of the show until last, and ironically it doesn’t even have glycolic acid in it. This moisturiser contains witch hazel, shea butter, silica and niacinamide all aiming to soothe, smooth, mattify and reduce pores, and it also contains SPF30 for good measure, and is designed for post-glycolic use because of the soothing properties.
The moisturiser says it’s lightweight, but the product itself is quite viscously thick. As you apply it to your face it’s quite heavy and sticky, but once on your face you can immediately see a glow surfacing from your skin, and the stickiness almost acts as quite a nice base for your everyday makeup (if using for night out makeup I would recommend applying this at least 30 minutes before priming, so the product has time to settle into your skin more).
I’ve used this moisturiser daily (after testing the other products on their own), and I don’t know if it’s because of the combined use of occasionally using the pads in the morning, or the odd serum pump at night, but with daily use of this moisturiser I’ve noticed a huge improvement in the overall appearance of my skin.
Particularly on my forehead I’ve seen fewer “little” pimples (you know, the tiny ones only you can see with a 2x zoom mirror?) and a general radiance and clearness on my forehead, and the blackheads on my nose have significantly reduced. I honestly don’t know if the effectiveness is because of it’s combined use with the other glycolic products, but because I use them so inconsistently in comparison to the moisturiser I’m tempted to assume it’s not, and that there is something in this moisturiser that really works.
Overall, I’d give this moisturiser a strong 9/10. It’s a product that works, and is definitely worth a try, but with its thick consistency I feel I squeeze a lot on to my fingertips because of the thick product that has to be worked quickly into the face. In comparison to a light moisturiser that does something very similar for my skin (e.g. The Origins GinZing) which lasted much longer than I think this product will, I’m not sure I’ll pay full price to use this moisturiser again.
To summarise, I think the range is definitely worth looking at if you’re looking for an introduction in to Glycolic acids at an affordable price (especially whilst it’s on offer at Superdrug), to test which percentage of the exfoliating acid works best for your skin. I was a quite underwhelmed by the products initially, but on reflection I’m now considering whether the success of the moisturiser has been with thanks to the use of the other products in the range. One thing I can say is that all of the products have a lovely light, citrus scent to them, which makes their application very enjoyable, if you like those scents. I’ll continue to use these products until they’re used up, and maybe add an edit to each section with my “used up products” thoughts.
For other information on Glycolic acid, I would absolutely recommend Caroline Hirons’ blog. If you haven’t heard of her before, you’ll hear of her again here for sure. I would also strongly recommend the Pixi range and The Ordinary skincare range for further Glycolic acids that work wonders.
*Please note that this is a very honest review, with products purchased from my own hard earned cash and is not sponsored in any way.*