Anti Aging

How to Really Use Glycolic Acid for Best Results

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Knowing how to use glycolic acid properly will ensure you get the amazing benefits… and none of the unwanted side effects.

Should you purchase the highest percentage of glycolic acid possible and use that, because higher concentration means better results, faster?

No—skin that isn’t used to glycolic acid or is already sensitized can react severely. So continue reading for detailed information on how to use glycolic acid to ensure clear, healthy, awesome skin!

How to Use Glycolic Acid: a Summary

  • Start with a product containing between 5 – 8% (our Glycolic Daily Exfoliator 7.5% is ideal)
  • A daily exfoliator is one of the best choices: easy consistent use and the right way to build up your skins tolerance.
  • Monitor how your skin reacts: if it becomes red or irritated reduce usage to once every 2 or 3 days for a week or two
  • Increase application frequency or time left on skin if your skin as you go (eg. the tingling sensation is less, there is no redness)
  • Monitor your skin: you may not need to increase anything—plenty of people find using a good product with 5 – 8% concentration every day is enough to keep skin healthy and clear of blackheads and fine lines
  • BONUS TIP: try “dermaplaning” before hand to increase results. See this page for details

The Importance of Concentration (%) and Building Up

Over the counter products (OTC) containing glycolic acid range in concentration from 1% to 30%.

Chemical peels performed by dermatologists range from 30% to 70%.

In order to get the benefits of using glycolic acid at home, use a low percentage consistently as part of your skin care routine:

  • Evaluate how your skin feels while you use it—a mild tingling is normal and an indication it is working. It should not be painful or cause peeling/flaking after use. (This is not required however, if you don’t feel the product is still working)
  • You can decrease the usage to every second day—or start at a frequency of every few days. This is fine, as along as you listen to your skin
  • After a 3 or 4 weeks you can increase the frequency or application time. By now your skin will be used to the acid and will be able to handle more
  • Some people claim anything lower than 20% concentration isn’t worth doing—but this is dangerous as glycolic acid cause damage to skin if not used correctly
  • Low doses used consistently work best at helping to restore normal health, keeping it clear, and providing a fresh glow

Who Shouldn’t Use Glycolic Acid?

Don’t use if you:

  • Are or recently stopped using prescription medication for acne
  • Have recently had a microdermabrasion treatment
  • Use sun beds or are in the sun frequently without adequate protection
  • Have thinned or sensitized skin

Using glycolic acid in your normal skin care routine is easy once you know how.

Nothing beats consistency in skin care, and this is especially true when it comes to using this AHA.

It can remarkably improve the condition of skin by balancing the acid mantle, providing an even and deep exfoliation, and increasing cell turnover resulting in a healthy fresh face. Enjoy!




    1. It would be best to check with your doctor or a pharmacist. A pharmacist especially can likely recommend a cream or lotion that is fine for a small child’s skin. All the best!

  1. What skincare products should not be used with Niacinamide serum.? I tried using the serum alone, and it made my skin really dry. I then tried to use jojoba oil after about 10 minutes from serum application, but it helped just a little bit and just for a little while. I am 72 years old. At my age, I am still breaking out. Thanks for helping.

    1. Do you use a regular moisturizer too? I would try that after the serum, perhaps a cream would work better than a lotion as creams are more hydrating. A simple one is fine – one that is geared to hydrate. You’re getting the active ingredients from your serum. If the serum is still making your skin dry, I would recommend using it every second or third night and building up the application frequency. Hope that helps!

  2. Can I use Glycolic Daily Exfoliator 7.5% rinse off than glycolic toner after that vitamin c 20% and hyaluronic serum and last flavo c cream moisturizer in bed time everyday

  3. i had a perfect peel (TCA) peel and i had it on for about 7 hours then washed off. My practitioner said i should have left it on overnight, therefore, i must have misheard the instructions. will i not get as good results now??


  4. I’m using almost daily at night, a little anoint of retin A on my face. Can I use it the glycolic acid too? Not at the same time, but combine some nights RA and sound others, the GA

  5. What is the best thing to use after using glycolic acid peel….to neutralise/and moisturize????

    1. Thanks for the question! To neutralize a GA peel you can use baking soda and water, or buy a specific neutralizer. To moisturize, if your normal product isn’t enough I suggest applying Vaseline or Aquaphor over top. This can be really helpful! Any simple, heavy cream will also do. Coconut oil is also another good option. This article is all about doing peels so please see it for more details and everything you need to know!

  6. I have used a 70% glycolic peel on my face 4dys ago do i carry carry on cleansing as normal i use micellar water then moisturise also can i wear make up now.

    1. Yes, most micellar waters ph is higher than 7 id advise not to use them. Yes u can wear makeup. Plz use sun screen

    1. It would be best to wait at least week before and after using the peel to let your skin heal, which is important. This depends on the strength of the peel, other ingredients, your skin etc, so be sure to always follow the particular instructions of that brand. Good luck!

    1. Absolutely – and we recommend it as these two ingredients work very well together. Our Glycolic Daily Exfoliator 7.5% used with the Complete Retinol Cream is a fabulous night time routine. The only thing to keep in mind as these two ingredients can cause some skin dryness in the beginning, so it is often a good idea to start with one for 2 weeks and then introduce the other.

      1. Actually, if you do your research tou will find that everyone states to NEVER combine these two together as they react and the glycolic acid actually cancels out the benefits of retinol due to the ph levels. It can also cause a terrible skin reaction. Retinol should also never be used with Vitamin C products. Its always best to use these products on different days, since your only supposed to use retinol 2-3 times a week maximum (on an evening)….. Im quite suprised that you have been advised otherwise!

        1. I’m not sure who this “everyone” is who states you should “NEVER” do all this hoopla…. it certainly doesn’t come from any sort of scientific research or legitimate source. This is really just a restatement of some of those too-many skin care myths that float around. Retinol and glycolic acid do not cancel each other out (whatever that means). Exfoliant acids only slightly increase acidity of the surface of skin – that is already acidic anyway. Besides, retinol does its work deeper in the skin, which is exactly why it is so good for wrinkles, smoothing, etc etc. Besides – any sort of leave on acid product is fairly mild, and any sort of “peel” product is always neutralized before applying any other product to skin.
          Glycolic acid and other exfoliants can really help retinol work better – by providing a good exfoliation they allow the retinol (and other ingredients) to be absorbed more easily.
          As for Vitamin C and retinol – these two actually work really well together so I have no idea where that comes from. When combining any sort of active ingredients you DO have to be a bit cautious, and start with one to let your skin get used to it, then introduce the other slowly.
          The frequency of retinol usage depends on the product and each individuals skin. Some can be used everyday, others a couple of times a week if they’re strong or skin is sensitive. You can also use retinol in the morning if you wish, just use a good sunscreen as well as this will keep it stable.
          I’m disappointed in this comment as it’s really just more of the misleading (and scare mongering) information that this website works really hard to dispel!
          So to you wonderful readers – do not be afraid of using glycolic acid, retinol, and vitamin c. Just use good quality products and use caution when by taking it slow, and monitoring your skin.

          1. Yep, Ive heard that too, and Ive tried it and its working wonders for my skin.Its absolutly GLOWINGGGGGGG

          2. I was told by my Dermatologist and by my pharmacist that Glycolic Acid 10% Cram in the day time with Niacinamide is great and of course add sunscreen and in the PM Retin A. They tell me never use them together . But it suits my skin as it is very sensitive

          3. Thanks for your comment! Yes Retin A is much stronger than Retinol, hence why it’s prescription only, so I would agree with your doc that it wouldn’t be wise to use glycolic acid and Retin A together. Over the counter retinol creams on the other hand are usually fine to use with glycolic acid. This would depend on your skin of course, so caution is always advised!

    1. I’m not sure what glycolic product you are using – if it is one that requires rinsing to neutralize like our Glycolic Daily Exfoliator 7.5%, then rinse it off and apply moisturizer. If it’s a glycolic moisturizer or other product you can leave on skin, you can apply cream over top for added hydration as needed.

      1. Manuka Honey is a great moisturizer to use with both your glycolic acid in the day and the Retin A at night that’s what I use and it fantastic

      2. My night time routine consists in
        1 makeup remover
        2 wash face with a glycolic 5% cleanser
        3 toner
        4 anti wrinkle serum
        5 sunscreen
        6 night cream and eye cream
        When do I apply the glycolic 10% cream

  7. After using this cream i am getting small pimples on my lower chin area and at the jaw line area please tell me what should i do forward?

    1. This is ur skin purging. Meaning acne that was underneath and would have come up eventually. The acid cleans under your pores and up pops the pimple. It should clear with continued use. Altho i would alternate with salicylic acid for acne and scars and glycolic for fine lines, wrinkles and sun spots. I know it has been 4 months since you posted so hopefully it is gone by now. If not, try the salicylic acid. I buy all of my acids thru muac, makeup artists choice. They sell a ton of great peels and other products. The best part about them is you can buy sample peels for like 6 to 17bucks ish so you can test which peels work best for you. You can get many peels out of the sample sizes and they almost always have coupons if you search their name in google next to coupon codes. Good luck.

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