For a few weeks during quarantine, I went to my parents’ house just north of New York City to escape the Manhattan crowds and replace blocks-long grocery store lines with suburban solitude and more than a sparse smattering of trees. The most restorative element of my little RnR retreat, however, was not the greenery, the luxury of having a car, or even my daily yoga sessions on the back patio, but the skincare success I had while there.
My routine left my skin so supple, clear, and bright that my mom — who usually tells me I look my worst right when I wake up — said it looked like I had gotten Botox. The product behind my newfound forehead with the glossy tautness akin to a post-medical spa glow? Maelove’s Night Renewer Glycolic Acid Cream.
Maelove has built a reputation for clean and affordable formulas that rival the efficacy of uber pricey alternatives, with the brand’s $75 Love 31 Serum being compared to the $185 Vintner's Daughter Active Botanical Serum and Maelove’s $28 The Glow Maker to SkinCeuticals’ $166 C E Ferulic. A newer release from the skincare brand, the Moonlight Retinal Super Serum, was so popular upon launch in October 2020 that, according to the brand, one bottle sold every minute for over five days straight until stock completely ran out. (It was just restocked this month after building up a waitlist of over 42,000 people!)
Shop now: $28; maelove.com
The standout company spent two years developing The Night Renewer Glycolic Acid Cream, an AHA-packed exfoliator enhanced with smoothing vitamin E, squalane, shea butter, arnica flower, and aloe to keep skin calm. As a sneaky benefit, Maelove’s nighttime product also includes hyaluronic acid (everyone’s favorite anti-aging ingredient of the moment) to plump skin and keep it amply hydrated. In this one $28 cream, you get multiple agents working to make your complexion look younger, feel smoother, and radiate freshness.
With 10 percent medical-grade glycolic acid, the AHA hero leaves you feeling like you just had a professional chemical peel — which other products like Drunk Elephant’s TLC Sukari Baby Facial can do, but for nearly triple the price. Board-certified dermatologist and RxSaver medical expert Dr. Dendy Engleman tells InStyle, “Glycolic acid improves your skin texture, fades dark spots and diminishes the appearance of lines, wrinkles, and pores. I love that this is balanced with squalene and hyaluronic acid to maintain proper hydration in your skin.”
To prep my skin ahead of using the chemical exfoliant, I start off with Garnier’s SkinActive micellar water to remove my makeup and follow it with the Paula’s Choice Resist Optimal Results Hydrating Cleanser. I like to keep my cleansing steps gentle ahead of the acids and more intense formulas, and these two products remove oil, dirt, and grime without stripping my skin dry. My face is a fresh canvas, ready to absorb the anti-aging and blemish-fighting ingredients in Maelove’s high-potency glycolic acid cream.
“Love it! That’s what gives you the smooth, right-after-Botox look,” Dr. Julie Russak, a board-certified dermatologist and founder of Russak Dermatology Clinic, says. Echoing Dr. Engleman, she explains,“Glycolic acid is a powerful anti-aging ingredient that exfoliates the skin and increases luminosity, which helps diminish the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. Ten percent is typically the strongest and most effective glycolic acid available for at home use. It also contains squalane and arnica and aloe to soothe and nourish the skin and shea butter counteracts inflammatory effects of AHA.”
Before incorporating the glycolic cream into your skincare routine, keep in mind that you might need to swap out other exfoliating products rather than use them in conjunction. Dr. Russak points out that because this cream “dissolves and chemically exfoliates the skin,” using an acidic toner before applying it may be too much for sensitive skin. If you want just one killer exfoliating product, though, you know what to opt for.
The bottom line is, Maelove’s The Night Renewer Glycolic Acid Cream will buff your fine lines so well, your mom might think you secretly got Botox while she was asleep. Make sure your skin is thoroughly cleansed before using it so the active ingredients can penetrate your skin effectively, and definitely follow up with a nourishing, replenishing moisturizer (or serum-and-cream combo) to keep your skin plump and hydrated in addition to smooth, clear, and bright.
You can thank me, my mom, and Maelove for giving you that great-skin pep back in your step just in time for shot girl summer.