How To Use A Glycolic Facial Peel At Home
The Ultimate Guide

This ultimate guide to using a glycolic facial peel at home will cover everything you need to know to use it safely, easily and get the best results. That is - clear, fresh, renewed skin!

Glycolic Facial Peel

It really is easy doing light, safe glycolic acid chemical peels at home, so follow this guide and enjoy the benefits!* (This is a guide only, read this page for an overview on performing home chemical peels).

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Benefits Of Using A Glycolic Facial Peel

Derived from sugar cane, glycolic acid has the smallest molecule of the Alpha Hydroxy Acid group (AHA's).

So, it can penetrate deeply and right into pores, effectively dissolving the glue that binds dead cells together:

  • Provides an even, deep exfoliation
  • Cleanses and clears blocked pores, fades dark spots
  • The exfoliation action stimulates skin cells to increase turnover = a renewed, plump and heathy complexion
  • Decreases fine lines
  • Minimizes pores
  • Helps with acne by keeping pores clear - salicylic acid is really the star for acne treatment, so you might like to look at that if this is your main concern
  • Has a cumulative effect, with frequent use can stimulate collagen and greatly improve texture

Note: If you would prefer to start with something safer and easier, use a low percentage of glycolic acid on a daily basis. This is not only easier, but delivers better results as the consistent use is what really improves your skin.

Check out our Bona Fide Skin Care Glycolic Daily Exfoliator 7.5% here >

Concentration and Ph - Where To Start?

An effective at home glycolic facial peel should be between 30 - 50% concentration.

Anything higher is far too strong, do not use 70%. Ever. This is industrial strength and you simply don't need it to get the benefits - far better to perform regular peels at a safer level.

What About pH?

Normal pH of skin is about 5.5, slightly acidic. One reason why acid peels are so beneficial is their ability to bring skin back to it's optimal ph level.

In a glycolic acid facial peel, a ph between 2-3 is ideal. Any higher and the effect will be neutralized. Any lower and it's the equivalent of battery acid! 


It is best to start with a 'low' concentration of 30%* with a pH of 2-3. This is far more beneficial to skin than trying to get more results faster by using a high concentration too soon - the reverse will be true and skin will react, sometimes severely.
  • First 2 - 3 treatments apply for 1 minute
  • Increase by 2minutes increments each time until you reach 5 minutes maximum
  • Once several glycolic acid 30% peel treatments at 5 minutes have been performed, you could then increase to 40% - again at 1 minute and build up. Repeat the process for build up to 50%.
  • Depending on your skin this might not be neccessary - a lot of people have perfect results from staying at the lower dose, and this is really ideal

What You'll Need

  • Normal cleanser -  a simple, gentle one is best
  • Rubbing alcohol or skin prep (I like to use the little pads you can get for first aid kits) - this is important for thoroughly drying skin and removing surface oils, allowing the peel to work at it's most effective
  • Small glass bowl to apply
  • A fan brush or gauze pad (fan brush is easier to use and prevents wastage)
  • 1/2 cup baking soda mixed with 2cups water (I put this in my sink) - this is to apply at the end of the peel to neutralize the acid, important 
  • There are specific neutralizers like this one, but baking soda and water is just as good. Put a soft wash cloth or a bunch of cotton pads in the bowl ready to use
  • Vaseline - apply to eyebrows, lip area and nostrils, places you do not want to the acid touching!
  • A heavy emollient moisturizer - very important after a peel... Coconut oil is also a very good option, extra bonus with it's anti bacterial properties
  • A timer/clock

How To Do An At-Home Glycolic Facial Peel

  • Cleanse and dry skin. 
  • Apply rubbing alcohol all over as you would a toner and allow to air dry completely
  • Make sure you have the baking soda solution ready beside you or in the sink
  • Apply vaseline to eyebrows, lip area and nostrils
  • Pour a small amount of glycolic facial peel into the glass bowl (normal drinking glass would work fine)
  • Using the fan brush apply to skin quite quickly and carefully - I suggest starting on the forehead, moving down the nose and chin then out to cheeks. But whatever feels right for you
  • A gauze pad also works well, just make sure you wear gloves and squeeze it to prevent drips
  • Apply evenly in one layer (don't worry about being too fussy however) the acid will start working straight away
  • Avoid the eye, lip and neck area - they don't have as many oil glands as the rest of the face so react more severely
  • Start timing as soon as you apply that first stroke 
  • Be very careful to not get any in your eyes - for obvious reasons!
  • Avoid any broken skin or active breakouts
  • Relax, and watch your skin in the mirror

What To Expect From A Glycolic Facial Peel:

  • Skin will tingle - a good sign! It may feel a bit 'bitey' but shouldn't be painful or too uncomfortable - if it is neutralize straight away
  • It may become pink/red particularly in more sensitive areas - watch it in the mirror. If it becomes overly red or blotchy/motley, neutralize immediately
  • The tingling can subside after the first 30secs, or once it reaches a certain point it will even out as the beginning is when it's most active. Don't mistake this for it not working anymore - if left on skin it will continue to provide an acid affect
  • Once you start neutralizing it - expect the sting to intensify briefly - just continue and it quickly subsides

Removing The Glycolic Facial Peel

  • Once the minute is up, apply the baking soda solution all over your face by splashing it and/or using a soft cloth 
  • Repeat for at least 1 minute until you are confident you've applied it thoroughly. Remember it will sting more briefly at the start
  • Rinse skin with water - If it feels hot keep splashing until it's cooled down and more comfortable
  • Pat dry skin and apply a very generous layer of moisturizer/oil
  • If you have time apply a soothing, nourishing mask after removing. This is what happens in professional facials as the skin is perfectly primed to absorb all that moisturizing goodness
  • It's best to do this in the evening so you won't be outside and exposed afterwards
  • Very important to wear a high spf sunscreen and preferable to avoid the sun altogether for a few days afterwards

Expectations And Aftercare

  • Skin will be quite dry for a few days as the top layer as been removed. Keep applying that heavy moisturizer. Coconut oil also works well
  • Do not exfoliate for at least a week. In fact, you won't need to at all while doing chemical peels at home, they are the most effective exfoliation by themselves and anything else will be very irritating
  • Skin will probably be very sensitive and perhaps a bit pink and shiny for a few days. Avoid excessive heat or harsh conditions 
  • I repeat - vitally important to wear a high spf sunscreen every single day. The new layers won't take kindly to sun exposure, which can result in a more severe sunburn and pigmentation
  • There may be slight flaking. Just keep slathering on the moisturizer - don't pick it! 

Your Treatment Plan - How Often And Maintenance

You will see benefits after your first glycolic facial peel at home. A smoother, fresher looking complexion, and a nice glow for a few days.

Long term benefits will need at least 4 treatments to show. In this time cell turnover will increase and the surface of skin will be healthier.

How often should you perform glyolic acid peeling at home?

  • once every 2-3 weeks is ideal - not too close together but enough to get cumulative effects

Once you've done a few peels at this rate and are seeing good results, a maintenance treatment once every 1 or 2 months is all that's needed. This will avoid over-peeling effects such as thinning or sensitivity.

It really is better to take the side of caution - don't mistake the instant glow that peels give you as a reason to do them stronger and more often. 

You know your skin best, and once you've done a couple will be able to adjust strength and timing by look and feel. 

Product Recommendations

The best glycolilc acid peel product is simple... pure concentration and a decent pH. They don't and shouldn't cost a lot. Such as:

Skin Obsession 30% Glycolic Acid
  • Comes in 30%, 40%, and 50%
  • Enough in each for approx. 8 peels, consider using the end of a bottle as indication to increase percentage
  • pH 2. Ideal

Here's a list of what else you'll need:

  • pH Neutralizer or baking soda
  • Fan brush or gauze
  • small glass bowl
  • rubbing alcohol/skin prep (individual alcohol swabs in first aid kits work well)
  • rich moisturizer or coconut oil to apply after - very important!

I've given this guide based on my experience and knowledge, but be sure to follow the product's specific instructions.

Enjoy the clearing, plumping, rejuvenating benefits of using a glycolic facial peel! 

Once you've incorporated a regular acid peel into your routine, you won't look back and everyone will wonder where that glow is coming from :)


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*Disclaimer - This information is intended as a resource for your own research and knowledge about performing a glycolic facial peel at home. It is not intended to be complete or exhaustive, but is based solely on my experience and opinions. You know your skin best, please see a professional if you have any doubts, concerns or simply aren't sure. The owner and author expressly disclaim responsibility for any adverse effects arising from the use or application of the information expressed here and the related pages. 

*The owner of this website is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon properties including, but not limited to,,,,, or Only products I believe in are recommended. Enjoy great skin!