Glycolic acid may not be anything new, but its full potential isn’t widely known. Learn the inner workings of this amazing ingredient, and find out how you can leverage it to solve some of your most pressing issues.
“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. 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.
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.”
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!
Why we love it: Glytone’s entire line of products capitalizes on the power of free glycolic acid. If you want something that’s gentle enough for everyday use, this is our best bet!
Why Shoppers Love It: “This is a great exfoliating cleanser. I love that I can feel the tingle and feel it work, and yet it’s gentle and not irritating. It also removes eye makeup perfectly without leaving a trace. I have sensitive skin especially around the eye area and yet the product cleans, removes makeup, and exfoliates without any skin irritation.” –From Citrus Heights, CA
Why we love it: This night serum blends glycolic acid with hydrating and soothing ingredients like aloe and green tea to even your tone, dissolve dead skin cells and resurface your complexion while you sleep.
Why shoppers love it: Unlike other serums I have used, this one exfoliates my skin and removes blackheads without irritation. The packaging is perfect: it is an airtight pump bottle. It’s also handy for travel. – From Los Altos, CA
Why we love it: These peel pads brighten, tone and smooth your skin’s texture while clearing pores of bacteria and impurities. Aside from glycolic, these pads also feature salicylic acid and lactic acid to exfoliate dead skin cells and encourage cell renewal to correct damage and keep acne at bay.
Why shoppers love it: “These pads have transformed my skin. My skin is instantly bright and glowing right after one use. Can’t live without.” – Normal, IL
Why we love it: This glycolic acid-infused cream is formulated with a 5% concentration of glycolic acid, coupled with salicylic acid, to address existing breakouts, purify pores and prevent adult acne for a clearer complexion.
Why shoppers love it: “I’m not kidding when I say I saw a difference with just one application. Three days later my skin is noticeably more smooth, less red in my cheeks and nose, smaller pores and I have been pimple-free for two days.” – From Granger, IN
Why we love it: This body lotion has been specially formulated with 15% glycolic acid to help you attain softer, smoother and healthier skin. Lightweight and oil-free, it also feeds your skin with essential nutrients like vitamins A, C, E, green tea extract and Co-Q10 to up your skin’s defense against free radical damage.
Why shoppers love it: “Always struggled with back and chest acne and this product cleared it up immediately and made my skin clearer and smoother. Will always continue to use this product!” – From Green Bay, WI
Why we love it: The fast-acting treatment uses glycolic acid to buff away dry, damaged, rough and bumpy skin. Ideal for all skin types, it works wonders with diminishing keratosis pilaris as well as moisturizing severely dry skin.
Why shoppers love it: “I have keratosis pilaris on my legs and I was really hoping that it will help me to smooth my skin (bumps) because nothing else that I have tried in the past helped. But this product definitely did. My skin feels way much smoother and softer.” – Anonymous
Why we love it: This product features a pair of socks pre-filled with an advanced blend of plant extracts and exfoliants to smooth and soften rough, callused feet. Glycolic, malic and lactic acids slough off hardened, dead skin to promote a soft texture and new cell growth to leave feet looking and feeling supple. Read what happened when we tried Baby Foot.
Why shoppers love it: “Baby Foot booties removed more dead skin than other methods I tried. It smelled great (lavender) and were easy to use.” – From Raleigh, NC