What is a PHA (poly hydroxy acid)?

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What is a PHA (poly hydroxy acid)?

There is a new kind of exfoliating acid that is ready and waiting to steal the skincare spotlight: poly hydroxy acids (PHAs). The ultra-effective power of alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) and beta hydroxy acids (BHAs) can be just that bit too harsh on sensitive skins, therefore PHAs make the perfect alternative and we’re going to help explain why.

Too much exfoliation = increased sensitivity

Even if you don’t have sensitive skin, using AHAs and BHAs every single day has the potential to over sensitise your skin, as the skin barrier can’t keep up with the level of exfoliation and as a result can end up compromised. This is especially important for those of you out there who also use vitamin A regularly, as it increases the cell turnover for a smoother skin surface - speeding up the natural exfoliation process.

Everyday surface exfoliation = protected skin barrier

PHAs on the other hand, are a new generation of exfoliating acid; super hydrating (see the amount of OH groups in the diagram above compared to AHAs and BHAs) and gentle on the skin, they are ideal for everyone, especially a more sensitive skin type. Made up of bigger molecules, they can’t penetrate into the skin as far as AHAs and BHAs, and instead, put their powers to exfoliating the surface of the skin. This ensures the skin barrier isn’t disrupted on a regular basis.

At Medik8, we have taken our research into PHAs to the next level with our new innovation: Press & Glow.


Press & Glow truly utilises the power of 5.5% PHA gluconolactone. Surrounded by ‘water-magnets’ this molecule is super hydrating, helping to comfort the skin - which is exactly what it needs during the process of exfoliation. Now, in true Medik8 fashion, the gentle powers of gluconolactone are taken to the next level with Press & Glow.

Prickly Pear Extract
Infused with natural enzyme activator prickly pear extract, Press & Glow can help to induce a more youthful cell renewal process, as it helps to boost the activity of natural exfoliation enzymes. This works perfectly in conjunction with vitamin A - the vitamin A boosts cell regeneration from the lower layers of the skin, while the enzymes help to restore natural exfoliation in the top layers. Exfoliation is regulated in every layer of the skin.

Aloe Vera
Press & Glow also harnesses the calming sensation of aloe vera, an ingredient ideal for reducing skin irritation and enhancing the skin’s moisture retention properties. It is also perfect for reducing any dryness associated with using topical vitamin A. Aloe vera is also an antioxidant powerhouse, and can truly help to prevent any free radical damage.

Acai Extract
Acai extract, on the other hand, possesses high concentrations of many essential fatty acids, alongside vitamins. The acai berry is also packed full of anthocyanins, which are known to help boost blood circulation and take down inflammation, while protecting the skin from free radical damage.


Press & Glow leaves the skin visibly resurfaced, plumped and smoothed. Helping to create a perfected skin surface which is not only better at absorbing active ingredients like vitamin C and A, it also creates a great base for makeup. Visible signs of hyperpigmentation are reduced, the skin is left visibly glowing yet soothed. What more could you want from your daily toner? Maybe a refill? We have thought of that too.

At Medik8, we strive to promote sustainability and use recycled materials as much as possible but reuse is best. When your Press & Glow is empty, simply recycle the bottle and save the pump and cap which fit perfectly on a Press & Glow Refill.


As we said earlier, Press & Glow is perfect for use with vitamin A. In fact, the need for a toner that worked in conjunction with vitamin A is what inspired the creation of Press & Glow. It helps the absorption of active ingredients, therefore your CSA (vitamin C and sunscreen by day, vitamin A by night) is truly optimised for use with Press & Glow.

Try our new daily resurfacing toner today.

Shop Press & Glow

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