Skin Care Blogs

How to Use Glycolic Acid in Your Skin Care Regimen

SkinCeuticals Glycolic 10 Renew Overnight and Glycolic Renewal Cleanser

Glycolic acid may not be anything new—it’s common in skin care products and in-office chemical peels—but not everyone knows how effective it can be as part of a regimen. Learn the inner workings of this amazing ingredient, and find out how you can leverage it to solve some of your most pressing issues.

What Is Glycolic Acid?

“Glycolic acid put skin care on the map in the ’90s,” says board-certified, Beverly Hills–based dermatologist Dr. Vicki Rapaport, M.D. “It was the first ingredient that was either incorporated into a take-home cream or done in a peel that actually did anything without breaking the bank or requiring anesthesia.”

A derivative of sugarcane, glycolic acid is an alpha hydroxy acid (AHA), a group of naturally occurring “fruit acids” that can be found in foods. AHAs work by loosening the glue-like substance that holds dull and dead skin cells on the topmost layer of your skin, revealing newer, healthier skin. It also stimulates new cell generation, resulting in improved skin texture, tone and a brighter complexion. And because glycolic acid has the smallest molecular size of all the AHAs, it’s the most bioavailable and active, allowing it to penetrate the skin the most easily.

But that’s not all. Aside from providing instant rejuvenation, glycolic acid has also been shown to stimulate the production of collagen and elastin, which means that with continuous use, glycolic acid can actually accelerate skin healing and reduce signs of environmental damage.

What Else Does Glycolic Acid Do?

Some dermatologists also favor glycolic acid over other acids to improve skin issues like blackheads, hyperpigmentation, enlarged pores, psoriasis, keratosis pilaris and hyperkeratosis, among others. It also removes excess oil, just as it relieves dry and scaly skin conditions. “In my experience,” says dermatologist Dr. Michelle Henry, “I find it to be more effective and with fewer side effects than other acid.”

How to Use Glycolic Acid

Now that you know how glycolic acid works, the next step is to find a way to make glycolic acid work for you. Of course, nothing beats a visit to your dermatologist or esthetician’s office for a series of professional peels, but maintenance at home is crucial!

  1. As an Overnight Cream: SkinCeuticals' Glycolic 10 Renew Overnight
    Buy now with Dermstore

    As an Overnight Cream: SkinCeuticals' Glycolic 10 Renew Overnight

    Why we love it: Aside from the fact that it’s from a dermatologist-recommended brand? This night cream has the right glycolic acid concentration and pH value to give you a true free glycolic acid value of 10%. This concentration offers a sweet spot between maximum efficacy and tolerability, meaning you can use this as a nightly treatment without worrying about irritation. You can even use this as an alternative treatment if your skin can’t tolerate retinol.
    Why shoppers love it: “Hands down, this is one of the best products on the market. It is gentle, yet it has amazing results. After I use it, my skin looks tighter, brighter and definitely more youthful! This product will always be in my skin care arsenal.”

    Buy now with free delivery
  2. As an Everyday Cleanser: SkinCeuticals Glycolic Renewal Gel Cleanser
    Buy now with Dermstore

    As an Everyday Cleanser: SkinCeuticals Glycolic Renewal Gel Cleanser

    Why we love it: Using this cleanser in tandem with its companion overnight treatment (above) can help maximize your glowing results. The pair together has been clinically proven to improve radiance, reduce the look of fine lines and wrinkles and enhance skin’s evenness and clarity.
    Why shoppers love it: “This cleanser is amazing! My skin feels so smooth and has a brighter appearance just after one wash.”

    Buy now with free delivery

Managing Editor, Dermstore Blog

Gracee Tolentino

Gracee Tolentino is the former managing editor of the Dermstore Blog. After spending 10 years of her writing and editing career working in the travel and food industries, she finally found her true calling: beauty, health and wellness. In her spare time she enjoys trying out new beauty products, reading creative non-fictions, creative writing and exploring the world. Her number-one beauty rule: Never leave the house without applying sunscreen.