Why You Should Include Glycolic Acid In Your Skin Care Routine

Sable Yong
Getty / Milena Boniek

Getty / Milena Boniek

Acids in skin care might be an alarming prospect, but if you’ve ever doused your hair in lemon juice to give it some “natural” highlights—trust us, this is WAY less harsh than that. Since more and more people are eschewing manual exfoliation in favor of chemical exfoliation, you should all make yourselves very familiar with glycolic acid. You’ll find it in facial (and body) cleanser, toner, serum, and even moisturizer—it can fit in with all sorts of crowds.

Skin products with glycolic acid are great for warmer weather as well, the main reason being that it’s the perfect balance of skin regeneration and exfoliation. Manual exfoliation can irritate your skin and leave it vulnerable to breakouts from sweat—or even sun damage if you don’t cover up with SPF afterwards.

MORE: Acids In Your Skin Care: How To Use Them To Your Advantage

Glycolic acids are the more popular AHAs (alpha hydroxy acids). Best for sensitive skin, this is definitely what you want to use to refresh and exfoliate your complexion sans irritation. Glycolic acid isn’t like retinoids in that it won’t make your skin peel and turn red, so much as it will exfoliate the top layer of your skin and melt off debris in a gentle way. This makes way for new skin cells to emerge.

Anyone with perpetual blackheads will benefit greatly since glycolic acid removes the stuff that creates blackheads—surface gunk. You’ll probably notice smoother texture after regular usage, too.

As far as anti-aging concerns go, glycolic acids have the smallest molecules which are able to penetrate your skin deeply and yield stronger results, including regenerating collagen.

Basically, glycolic acids are the scenic route to take if you want the results of retinoids but can’t handle the irritation and redness associated with building up the tolerance.

We love: Mario Badescu Glycolic Acid Toner, Nip+Fab Glycolic Scrub Fix, and Peter Thomas Roth Glycolic Acid 10% Moisturizer

MORE: An Exfoliation Guide For Sensitive Skin