My favorite glycolic products, and why I use them

After my post on my nighttime treatments, I had a question from a ROKer, lets call her “I”, asking weather acids really do the skin any good? A great question I thought, as I understand that “acid” doesn’t exactly scream ‘Aaahhh-beauty treatment’, more like ‘ouch!- blisters and peeling skin’.. I answered this question in part in my post on Retinoic acid, but why I use Glycolic acid has yet to be revealed.

Glycolic acid is a fruit acid, part of the alpha-hydroxy-acid family, and it executes a number of beneficial effects on our skin.

Glycolic acid is mostly know as an exfoliant, an agent that breaks away the dead skin cells at the top most layer of the skin. It does this my breaking down bonds between the cells, letting them shed away easily. Dead skin cells, contribute to clogged pores and dull skin, and can be a causative factor in development of breakouts and decreased skin-regeneration.

Skin exfoliation makes skin look softer and smoother. Long term use of glycolic acid skin care products has been shown to help diminish fine lines, wrinkles, and age spots, as well as pregnancy related pigmentation spots (melasma). From an antiaging perspective glycolic acid has been shown to increase collagen production and fibroblast activity in skin, resulting in increased skin thickness and improvement of firmness and feel of the skin.

It also helps smooth out uneven facial tone and can even reduce the appearance of surgical scars, acne scars, and other blemishes. Used on a regular basis, glycolic acid has also proven helpful in the treatment of acne.

Many dermatologists offer powerful in- office glycolic peels using 20%-70% glycolic acid concentrations. These are done once to a couple of times a month as an antiaging treatment to stimulate rejuvenation, or as a treatment for acne, acne scars or problems of hyper- pigmentation and uneven skin tone. I have never had one myself, but I have been using glycolic acid containing at home treatments for more than 4 years, with great results.

What I like most about the glycolic products I have used, is the instant ‘glow’ you get after just one application of the product. This is attributed to its great exfolitative effect, as it lets new skin shine instantly, giving your skin a very polished look.

At home treatment concentrations vary from 10-30%, and as with Retinoic acid you're urged to build up tolerance as you get accustomed to it. I’ve been going steady with a concentration of 10-15% for a while, which I find suits me well, and I haven’t felt the need to amp it up yet.

As with any acid treatment, proper use of daytime SPF is highly recommended (mandatory), as it makes the skin sun-sensitive.

My products from left to right:

1. Alpha-H liquid gold : People rave about this one, I like it a lot, but I prefer my glycolic- product in cream format.This product is good if your new to the game, and since its fluid, it works well with a moisturizer added on top for increased hydration.

2. Mario Badescu Glycolic acid toner: This is a great toner for combination/oily skin types! I have more of a dehydrated skin type, so I use it after my Mario Badesco foaming cleanser 2-3 times a week, or before my moisturizer when I'm heading out and want my skin to have that little extra 'oomph' we all crave so much.

3.Cliniderm Dual Action 2 in 1 peeling and mask. This is a nice exfoliator. It contains small round beads for some physical exfoliation in addition to the effect of the glycolic acid. I use this when I feel like I need to rub away a little, in between my Mario Badescu foaming cleanser sessions. The great thing about this one is that it can also be used as a moisturizing mask, making it a perfect travel product! Cliniderm is sold in Norwegian pharmacies, and I think also in Swedish ones.

4. Mario Badescu Glycolic cleanser Chemical exfoliation cleanser. It does leave my skin a little dry after use, so I generally use it 2 times a week for that great exfolitative effect, and follow with my glycolic moisturizer after. I also use it on my body, I mean if its good for the skin on the face, why not get some great exfoliation going on the rest of the body as well?

5. 10% Glycolic acid cream from Reviva-labs. Really really great product. Absolutely love this. My skin looks radiant every morning after I use this. This also contains vitamin A, and E which aid in skin rejuvenation.

Reviva Labs, 10% Glycolic Acid Cream

I'll also add a 6th product which is not pictured, but that I have tried the cream version of. This is the gel version, great for summer, and great for people who need hydration, but fear the heaviness a cream might bring with it. It contains 12% glycolic acid as well as alovera, and other active anti-aging and hydrating ingredients:

Sesderma Acglicolic Classic Cleamoisturizing Gel Use your glycolic products on nights when you're not using your retinol product, glycolic acid will hinder the effect of your retinol, so please do apply them on separate nights!


The therapeutic value of glycolic acid peels in dermatology Grover C, Reddu BS Dept. of Dermatology, Maulana Azad Medical College & Hospitals, New Delhi - 110 002

Year : 2003  |  Volume : 69  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 148-150