The 10 Best Glycolic Acid Products For Your Skin

Discover all about Glycolic Acid and your skin type

Smoother, softer, healthier-looking skin … Do we sound like one of those cheesy adverts yet? The thing is, some ingredients are the dream. They do what they claim to: they make good skin days more frequent.

If you're new to Glycolic Acid and AHAs, Jo explains it all in the video below...

AHAs: Everything you Need to Know

What is Glycolic Acid?

Glycolic Acid is one of those ingredients that can work wonders on your skin. Use it regularly, and it’ll promote the skin's healing process, helping increase collagen and elastin for an anti-ageing effect. Studies show that this ingredient ‘knows’ how to target sun damage, dullness, and hyperpigmentation to encourage a healthy-looking, natural glow. Impressive!

But what exactly is Glycolic Acid, and how does it work? Is Glycolic Acid safe for sensitive skin? If you’re obsessed with getting the Glycolic Acid glow, we've got the skincare essentials that are perfect for both daily and occasional use.

Adore Beauty - Alpha-H Liquid Gold - 1200 x 800Adore Beauty - Alpha-H Liquid Gold - 1200 x 800

Sure, seeing the word ‘acid’ on your bathroom shelf can seem a little … scary. What is the best Glycolic Acid definition? Worry not! Studies have shown that Glycolic Acid is safe. This naturally occurring ingredient derives from sugarcane and is fruit-based. Like Lactic acid, Glycolic Acid is a water-soluble Alpha Hydroxy Acid (AHA) and a firm favourite in the skincare industry.

What does Glycolic Acid do?

When applied to the skin, the potent little ingredient reacts with the top layer to break down sebum and exfoliate away the outer dead layer. Once the Glycolic Acid has swept that junk away, skin can reflect light better to reveal smoother, brighter-looking skin. Ding! Using a Glycolic Acid toner will introduce the ingredient mindfully into your routine. You could start with a cult classic like Pixi Glow Tonic 250ml.

Does Glycolic Acid thin skin?

In a word, yes, Glycolic Acid does thin the skin—but that’s no bad thing. There are many benefits to Glycolic Acid for skin. The acid breaks down the stratum corneum, which is just the top layer of dead skin cells, and leaves behind the good stuff. In fact, some AHA acids actually have a thickening effect on the layers below the skin’s surface, where the all-important collagen can be found. If you have extremely sensitive skin and are worried about Glycolic Acid burn, always consult a professional before using this ingredient.

What percentage of Glycolic Acid is effective?

There are some solid reasons to try Glycolic Acid for skin products. If you’re new to the ingredient, you’ll start to see the effects using products with only 8%. If you’ve built up a tolerance or you want help with skin specifics like ageing or rough skin, look for products with around 10% Glycolic Acid.

Can you use Hyaluronic acid and Glycolic Acid together?

When using an exfoliating product like Glycolic Acid, it’s essential you replenish the moisture in your skin. Hyaluronic Acid will give skin a hit of hydration and help ward off irritation. So, yes! Research shows that you can layer these two ingredients.

Is Glycolic Acid safe to use during pregnancy?

It’s a big question: is Glycolic Acid pregnancy-safe? Although it's safe to use in small doses, a salon-based Glycolic Acid peel when pregnant probably isn't advisable. But Glycolic Acid and pregnancy can mix to some extent. Use at-home products containing less than a 10% concentration to keep your complexion tip-top. We always recommend speaking to your doctor or a skincare specialist before trying any ingredients you're unsure about.

What’s the best skin type to use it on?

It’s actually pretty good for all skin types. Those with normal, combination, and oily skin will feel the benefits of Glycolic Acid. But if you have very dry skin, you might experience some irritation. And, at the risk of sounding like a broken record, make sure you’re always slathering on the 30+ SPF—especially after exfoliating.

Is Glycolic Acid safe to use on sensitive skin?

This little acid really is safe for most skin types. Research shows that if you have very sensitive skin or rosacea, you might find it a bit too irritating. But on the whole, you should be fine.

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What does Glycolic Acid do for acne?

You might think Salicylic Acid is the acne saviour, but it’s worth testing out Glycolic Acid acne clearing capabilities too. You can use Glycolic Acid on pimples! This super exfoliator unsticks the skin, releasing and unclogging the pores, so skin looks clearer and acne becomes less annoying. Also, it gets bonus points for helping with the appearance of discolouration and acne scarring.

What's the best Glycolic Acid peel product?

What’s right for you depends on how much time you have and how much money you want to spend. We love Pixi Glow Peel Pads, which are infused with 20% Glycolic Acid. It’s a simple, gentle and effective Glycolic Acid peel for acne. Sweep one over your face before bed to help reduce fine lines and slough away dead skin cells. We also can’t get enough of Glycolic Acid in the acne-reducing, fine line-fighting, anti-pigmentation powerhouse, Alpha-H Beauty Sleep Power Peel (available only at Adore Beauty). This night Glycolic Acid cream peel blends a potent mix of Retinol, Collagen, and Glycolic Acid and is thought of as one of the most effective face peels on the market.

When is the best time to apply Glycolic Acid, and how often should I use it?

Because Glycolic Acid can make skin more sensitive to the sun, experts recommend making the ingredient a part of your evening routine. To feel the benefit, apply the product to your entire face or body and not just the problem area.

Alpha H Liquid Gold isn’t just an anti-ageing product. It can help with sun damage, acne, pigmentation, irregular texture, and uneven skin tone. More than a simple exfoliator, the complex product acts as a toner, exfoliator, serum, and moisturiser. With the power of Glycolic Acid, this face exfoliator helps resurface the skin, giving the effects of an overnight facial.

With a blend of Liquorice Extract and Silk Proteins, skin feels soothed, looks brighter, and retains moisture levels. Devotees rave about the Alpha-H Liquid Gold skin-smoothing Glycolic Acid benefits. Best part is, results are visible after just 20 minutes.

Formulated without the often-irritating Sodium Laureth Sulphate, Skinstitut Glycolic Cleanser 12% gently scrubs away impurities for smoother, fresher looking skin. This popular formula features 12% Glycolic Acid, which promotes new skin cells and transforms dull, uneven skin for a brighter, more even-looking complexion. The lightly foaming cleanser is granule-free and won’t strip the skin of its natural moisture.

The deeply penetrating Skinstitut Glycolic Cleanser 12% works by bringing the hydrating, plumping cells that hide beneath the lower layers of the skin’s epidermis to the forefront. Tea Tree Oil, a natural anti-inflammatory ingredient, benefits acne-prone skin in addition to the decongesting properties of this exfoliating cleanser.

The Ordinary Glycolic Acid 7% Toning Solution contains not only skin-smoothing Glycolic Acid but also a Tasmanian Pepperberry derivative, which helps reduce irritation. Because the derivative naturally varies in colour seasonally, be aware that the colour of the formula can change. This toner also includes Ginseng Root and Aloe Vera, which soothe the skin for a brightening effect.

With its gentle, exfoliating action, The Ordinary Glycolic Acid 7% Toning Solution helps reveal the skin’s natural radiance with visible clarity. Use consistently to see the skin’s appearance continue to improve. Those with sensitive, compromised, or peeling skin might benefit from another product. And always apply sunscreen the morning after use.

The Ordinary Glycolic Acid 7% Toning Solution

A new addition to the Alpha-H family, Alpha-H Liquid Gold Resurfacing Cream is quickly growing an army of fans. With Shea Butter, Coconut Oil, Glycolic Acid, and Lactic Acid, this gentle daily exfoliator removes excess oil and impurities. The gentle blend of ingredients works to hydrate and nourish the skin while resurfacing it for a smoother, glowing finish.

Alpha-H Liquid Gold Resurfacing Cleansing Cream is suitable for acne-prone, normal, dry, and mature skin, and acts as a primer for the rest of your skincare routine. Use this gentle Glycolic Acid cleanser regularly to reduce the appearance of fine lines, large pores, and sun damage for a clearer, smoother, brighter-looking complexion.

Murad Age Reform AHA/BHA Exfoliating Cleanser powerfully combines Salicylic Acid, Lactic Acid, and Glycolic Acid to reveal softer, smoother, brighter-looking skin. Polish away impurities and unearth your natural, clear complexion. The physical and chemical exfoliating agents work hard to smooth the skin’s overall texture.

Triple-action Murad Age Reform AHA/BHA Exfoliating Cleanser 200ml is perfect for ageing skin as it helps improve the appearance of fine lines by restoring soft skin. And it’s not just for the face! If you suffer from bumpy or rough patches on the body, this exfoliator is perfect for smoothing the skin out. Want to know more about Murad skinare? Check out The 11 Best Murad Products You Need to Try

SkinCeuticals Glycolic 10 Renew Overnight is a clarifying night serum that helps treat discolouration and signs of premature ageing. The 10% true Glycolic Acid inclusion ensures intense renewal and helps treat discolouration overnight. There are so many Glycolic Acid serum benefits! Boosting the skin’s natural cell turnover, uneven patches are smoothed, which will help promote your inner glow.

Both highly soothing and highly effective, SkinCeuticals Glycolic 10 Renew Overnighthelps skin look less pigmented and crystal-clear. Thanks to botanical ingredients, the skin is beautifully conditioned and soothed. Apply this wonder, which is free of dyes and fragrances, every night for noticeable effects.

Skincare Routine - How To Apply SkinCeuticals Glycolic 10 Renew Overnight

Mesoestetic glycolic + E + F ampoules exfoliate the skin to reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. A high Vitamin E and Vitamin F content protects and repairs the skin. The combination of active ingredients, which includes Glycolic Acid, helps speed up the skin’s natural shedding process.

mesoestetic glycolic + E + F ampoules is also great at helping reduce the appearance of blackheads by revitalising clogged, suffocated skin. Ensures the skin is prepped and primed for any active ingredient to be applied after use.

If you want matte, blemish-free, balanced skin, Medik8 Balance Moisturiser with Glycolic Acid Activator could be the trusted duo you’ve been looking for. Previously known as Beta Moisturiser, this holy-grail product is great for combination, oily, or blemish-prone skin.

With Glycolic Acid Activator, the skin is prepped for any subsequent creams applied. This new and improved, lightweight formula, with a gentle citrus scent, helps control oil throughout the day. Apply Medik8 Balance Moisturiser with Glycolic Acid Activator every morning and evening, sweeping the duo over the face, neck, and décolletage.

For a brighter, more luminous complexion, reach for Murad Environmental Shield Intensive-C Peel, which targets environmentally damaged skin. In just 10 minutes, this powerful face Glycolic Acid mask exfoliates and removes dead skin cells to unveil glowing skin. Working hard to reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, this treatment smooths the skin’s texture.

This peel is ideal for dull, lifeless skin. Apply to the face and neck twice a week to see optimal benefits; there are many Glycolic Acid peel benefits. Apply to the face, neck and décolletage and leave on the skin for up to 10 minutes. When using Murad Environmental Shield Intensive-C Radiance Peel, which is categorised as a Murad Step Two product, follow up with a moisturiser and sunscreen.

Why limit yourself to the Glycolic Acid face wash benefits when your entire body can reap the rewards! Harnessing the skin-clearing power of Glycolic Acid, Pixi Glycolic Body Wash softens, smooths, and hydrates the body. It’s gentle enough for daily use and is rich in natural extracts including Ginseng, Cucumber, and Bilberry. The unique blend lathers up to help protect and repair skin against environmental aggressors

Once you’ve showered and dried, Pixi Glycolic Body Lotion gently exfoliates to smooth skin. Paraben-free and cruelty-free, this body moisturiser gently hydrates and boosts radiance with a blend of Glycolic Acid, Aloe Vera, Grape Seed Oil, and Ginseng for a toning, smoothing finish.

So, as you can see, there really is a Glycolic Acid product that everyone can benefit from! From the best Glycolic Acid face wash to the best Glycolic Acid products for acne, it’s well worth including the ingredient in your good skin arsenal.

Want to know more about cosmeceutical skincare? Check out our guide What Is Cosmeceutical Skincare? Our Expert Guide

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