PHA is the Skincare Secret You Didn’t Know You Needed

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Woman washing her face

What if we told you you could achieve all the pore-clearing, glow-boosting benefits of exfoliation… literally without stripping? Yeah, we’ve got a friend to introduce you to: polyhydroxy acid, or PHA. Basically, she’s a lot like the AHAs and BHAs of the beauty world, except she also gives your skin a serious dose of hydration. And best of all, you don’t even have to add an extra step to your routine to take advantage of the power ingredient. Neutrogena’s new Skin Balancing cleansing collection has two percent of it in every bottle, for every skin type—all under $8.


A trio of cleansers, plus cleansing cloths, that’ll instantly bring your skin into balance. Each formula features two percent gluconolactone, a highly effective form of PHA derived from glucose. Like AHAs and BHAs, this PHA works by dissolving the bonds between dead (A.K.A. dulling) skin cells. Here’s the kicker: PHAs have a much larger molecule size than other chemical exfoliants, which inhibits them from penetrating the skin too quickly or aggressively. Ultimately, you get the same glowy, clear, soft complexion you expect from exfoliation, minus any redness and without stripping. In fact, it even helps your skin absorb whatever you slather on next more effectively.

Because everyone’s skin is unique, Neutrogena carefully formulated three distinct PHA cleansers—and no matter your skin type, there’s a version for you. If you have normal or combination skin, you’ll love the Skin Balancing Gel Cleanser, which suds up to eliminate pore-clogging dirt and oil while softening and purifying any dry areas. 

Neutrogena Skin Balancing Gel Cleanser
Neutrogena Skin Balancing Gel Cleanser $8

Struggle with acne or excess oil? Try the Skin Balancing Clay Cleanser. Along with PHA, it’s infused with kaolin clay to mattify and absorb oil. 

Neutrogena Skin Balancing Clay Cleanser
Neutrogena Skin Balancing Clay Cleanser $8

And for dry and sensitive skin types, there’s the Skin Balancing Milky Cleanser, which feels as luxurious as it sounds. A four-week clinical study found that dry skin types saw an improvement in moisture, tone, and texture with one month of use.

Neutrogena Skin Balancing Milky Cleanser
Neutrogena Skin Balancing Milky Cleanser $8

You’ll also want to maintain your newly balanced complexion on the go. The Neutrogena Skin Balancing Micellar Cleansing Cloths gently rid your skin of oil, impurities, and makeup, and leave behind nourishing vitamin E and vitamin B5. And since they’re free of drying alcohol, sulfates, and dyes, they won’t make your face feel stripped. We’re also obsessed with the fact that they’re made from 100% plant based cloth and home compostable.

Neutrogena Skin Balancing Wipes
Neutrogena Skin Balancing Micellar Cleansing Cloths $8


Because you’re completely over face washes that make your complexion feel dry and tight. And, like us, you don’t see why you should have to deal with thirsty, inflamed skin just because you’re exfoliating, thank you very much. You like your skin like you like your virtual yoga classes: completely zen.


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