Glycolic Acid

Along with salicylic acid, glycolic acid is one of the most researched of the hydroxy acids used in skincare. Toners, creams and masks containing glycolic acid are popping up everywhere, with even high-street brands jumping on the bandwagon. But who can most benefit from glycolic acid? And what should you look for when making a purchase? 

Read on for everything you need to know about using glycolic acid in your skincare routine, another of the organic acids which are known to improve skin health. .

What Is Glycolic Acid? 

Glycolic acid is an organic compound with acidic properties, very similar to lactic acid. It is one of the smallest of the alpha-hydroxy acids (AHAs), meaning that it’s water-soluble and can penetrate easily into the skin. 

With fantastic exfoliating properties, high-potency (10%+) glycolic peels have become a must-have beauty treatment, but these are best done by a trained cosmetic professional. That doesn’t mean you need to spend a fortune to feel the benefits though! Thankfully, glycolic products up to an 8% concentration are readily available for you to use from the comfort of home. 

How Does It Work?

Like other AHAs, glycolic acid works by dissolving the ‘glue’ that bonds old skin cells to the surface. By breaking down these bonds, dull, dry skin is sloughed away, revealing the smoother, brighter skin below.

Alongside its exfoliating properties, glycolic acid also stimulates the production of collagen and binds moisture to the skin. Combined, these functions encourage skin which is hydrated, radiant and less susceptible to fine lines and wrinkles. Sold? Us too!

Who Can Benefit From Using Glycolic Acid?

With varying concentrations and products available, there’s a glycolic acid for all skin types, but it’s considered particularly beneficial for those with aging, acne-prone, or uneven skin. 

Glycolic acid is generally considered to be stronger than some of the other AHAs, and so if you have particularly sensitive skin or are new to using acid in your skincare regime, we suggest starting with a weaker AHA such as lactic acid. 

If using glycolic acid for the first time, a good way to start is by using it sparingly and gradually increasing your use over time. This allows your skin to become accustomed and makes it easier for you to review the condition of your skin. 

What Products Contain Glycolic Acid?

There’s no shortage of options when it comes to skincare products that include glycolic acid. The concentrations and formulations can vary greatly, so choosing the right product will depend largely on your skin’s sensitivity and what potency you’re looking for. Ideally, look for a glycolic acid concentration of 5-8% to ensure you’ll reap the benefits. 

With that in mind, here are a few of our favourite glycolic acid products, including a mask, toner and cream.

Peter Thomas Roth Glycolic Solutions Cleanser 3%

With the 3% Glycolic Solutions Cleanser from Peter Thomas Roth, you can experience the smoothing and clarifying benefits of glycolic acid firsthand. An oil-free cleanser that removes impurities and makeup from the skin whilst providing gentle exfoliating action.

Caudalie Glycolic Peel Mask 

Caudalie have a reputation for their plant-derived, naturally-sourced products and the Glycolic Peel is no different. Enhanced with grape seed oil, skin is exfoliated and brightened with a dose of added nourishment.


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