Glycolic Acid Face Wash Is The Key To Brighter Skin

Laniqua Mcmillian
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Glycolic Acid Face Wash Is The Key To Brighter Skin
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We can invest in all the foundation, highlighters and contouring products that we want—but the truth is, if we don’t have a solid base to start from, our favorite makeup can’t do its thing. When it comes to getting glowy (but not oily), flake-free, youthful skin, glycolic acid is where it is at—and incorporating it into your routine is a easy as washing your face.

Here’s everything you need to know about this skin essential—as well as the best glycolic acid face washes available.

What is glycolic acid?

Glycolic acid is the smallest molecule in the alpha-hydroxy acid (AHA) family—and due to its small size, it penetrates the skin cells easier. As an AHA, glycolic acid naturally exfoliates the skin by removing dead skin cells and allows new, radiant skin cells to grow in place. It’s also an important anti-aging ingredient, as it’s been shown to reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. It’s also great for those prone to excess oil, as it cleanses and exfoliates without stripping the skin.

MORE: 3 Ways to Keep Your Powder Makeup from Looking Too Cakey

How does it work?

Though it can be found in facial cleansers, peels, and creams, a glycolic facial cleanser is the best way to sneak this ingredient into your daily beauty routine—you wash your face every day, after all, so it’s more likely you’ll get reliable results from this ingredient. Plus, since you don’t leave cleanser on your skin for a long period of time, you won’t experience any of the major side-effects of glycolic acid—redness, soreness, peeling—that a GA-rich serum or peel would potentially leave you with. The quick and easy application of a glycolic acid face wash will leave your skin feeling brand new.

MORE: How I Learned to Love My Skin Without an Acne ‘Success Story’

Okay, so which face wash is right for me?

We’re glad you asked! Click through for our favorite products at every price point.

A version of this article was originally published in November 2015. 

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InstaNatural Glycolic Cleanser
InstaNatural Glycolic Cleanser

This cleanser is packed with lemon, sugar cane, willow bark, vitamin E and chamomile to create an oil-free product that is still nourishing for dehydrated skin.

$18.87 at Amazon

Jan Marini Bioglycolic Face Cleanser
Jan Marini Bioglycolic Face Cleanser

No toner or astringent necessary after using this clarifying and gentle cream-based wash.

$38 at Jan Marini

Jack Black Deep Dive Glycolic Facial Cleanser
Jack Black Deep Dive Glycolic Facial Cleanser

Vegan, fragrance and paraben-free, this wash can also  be used as a purifying mask when left to dry on skin.

Available at Amazon

The Ordinary Glycolic Acid 7% Toning Solution
The Ordinary Glycolic Acid 7% Toning Solution

Aloe vera, ginseng and tasmanian pepperberry add to the glycolic acid in this cleansing toner from the brand with a cult-like following, The Ordinary.

$8.70 at The Ordinary

Anthony Glycolic Facial Cleanser
Anthony Glycolic Facial Cleanser

Vitamins A, C, and E pair with chamomile and aloe vera in this soothing, exfoliating cleanser.

Available at Amazon

Body Merry Glycolic Acid Exfoliating Cleanser
Body Merry Glycolic Acid Exfoliating Cleanser

An exfoliating cleanser that brightens complexion with the help of kojic acid, jojoba, willow bark and plant oils.

Available at Amazon

Maderma Aqua Glycolic Facial Cleanser
Maderma Aqua Glycolic Facial Cleanser

This affordable cleanser is truly mighty. Great for acne-prone skin, this face wash goes on gently and leaves your skin feeling smooth. And bonus: if you get razor bumps, this cleanser will help reduce those, too.

$14 at Amazon

Mario Badescu Glycolic Foaming Cleanser
Mario Badescu Glycolic Foaming Cleanser

Formulated with herbal extract for soothing benefits, this foaming cleanser will leave your skin feeling radiant. This is amazing for dry skin, as it cleanses and hydrates without stripping skin of the natural oils it needs.

$16 at Amazon

Glytone Mild Gel Cleanser
Glytone Mild Gel Cleanser

Perfect for oily skin, this cleanser removes make up, dirt, and oil residue from the skin while helping restore it's natural pH. We especially love the oh-so-clean scent of this cleanser; it makes it a pleasure to use!

$33 at Amazon

SkinCeuticals Purifying Cleanser
SkinCeuticals Purifying Cleanser

SkinCeuticals Purifying Cleanser will leave your skin feeling fresh and conditioned. We use this in conjunction with a prescription retinoid to keep our complexions healthy and flake-free—which is just what we want!

$50 at Amazon

Peter Thomas Roth 3% Glycolic Solutions Cleanser
Peter Thomas Roth 3% Glycolic Solutions Cleanser

Packed with pro vitamin B5 and arginine, this face wash is amazing for anyone looking to combat fine lines and wrinkles.

$26 at Amazon

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  • InstaNatural Glycolic Cleanser
  • Jan Marini Bioglycolic Face Cleanser
  • Jack Black Deep Dive Glycolic Facial Cleanser
  • The Ordinary Glycolic Acid 7% Toning Solution
  • Anthony Glycolic Facial Cleanser
  • Body Merry Glycolic Acid Exfoliating Cleanser
  • Maderma Aqua Glycolic Facial Cleanser
  • Mario Badescu Glycolic Foaming Cleanser
  • Glytone Mild Gel Cleanser
  • SkinCeuticals Purifying Cleanser
  • Peter Thomas Roth 3% Glycolic Solutions Cleanser

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