What is a PHA (poly hydroxy acid)?

Posted by The Editor on

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: polyhydroxy acids (PHAs). The ultra-effective power of alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) and beta hydroxy acids (BHAs) can sometimes leave our skin sensitised when overused, therefore PHAs make the perfect alternative and we’re going to help to explain why.

Too much exfoliation = increased sensitivity

Using AHAs and BHAs every single day has the potential to oversensitise 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 vitamin A users who are already exfoliating their skin on a daily basis.  

Everyday surface exfoliation = protected skin barrier

PHAs on the other hand, are a new generation of exfoliating acid; super hydrating (see the amount of water-attracting OH groups in the diagram above compared to AHAs and BHAs) and gentle on the skin, they are suitable for even delicate skin types. PHAs are made up of larger molecules than AHAs and BHAs, meaning they only exfoliate the surface of the skin. This makes PHAs the perfect match for those who want to achieve true daily exfoliation while keeping the skin barrier healthy.

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. A high performing, hydrating polyhydroxy acid (PHA), gluconolactone works to gently exfoliate and hydrate the skin, resulting in a visibly more even, smoother skin surface. 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 improve visible clarity, luminosity and smoothness of the skin. This works perfectly in conjunction with vitamin A - helping to improve the visible results of the gold-standard skincare ingredient by promoting a visibly even skin texture whilst infusing the skin with hydration. 


Aloe Vera

Press & Glow also harnesses the calming sensation of aloe vera, an ingredient that works to effortlessly comfort and hydrate the skin.. It is perfect for reducing any dryness associated with using topical vitamin A. Aloe vera is also an antioxidant powerhouse, and one of the oldest skin remedies.

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 visibly soothes the skin's surface.


Press & Glow leaves the skin comforted, hydrated and supple, with the lightweight formula creating a visibly smoother skin surface which creates a great base for makeup. Press & Glow helps to brighten the complexion and leaves the skin looking 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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