What Is Glycolic Acid? A Cosmetic Scientist’s Guide

glycolic acid skincare

It’s time to put away your face scrubs and say goodbye to your manual exfoliators. We’re here to introduce you to your new exfoliation miracle worker: Glycolic Acid!

Not sure what it is or what it does? Don’t worry, we answer all of your burning questions, including ‘what is Glycolic Acid?’, ‘what does Glycolic Acid do for skin’? and ‘how do you use Glycolic Acid?’.

Ready? Here’s everything you need to know about Glycolic Acid for skin…

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What Is Glycolic Acid?

Glycolic Acid is an alpha-hydroxy acid (or AHA to you and me), derived from sugar cane.

Of all the AHAs used in, skincare Glycolic has the lowest molecular weight, meaning it easily penetrates the top layer of the skin and is super effective.

What Does Glycolic Acid Do for Skin?

You may have heard of this skincare favorite, but what does Glycolic Acid do exactly? Check out these benefits of Glycolic Acid for skin:

Glycolic Acid Benefits:

  • Exfoliation – It helps to slough away dead cells from the top layer of skin to reveal a bright and beautiful complexion. It has smaller molecules than other AHAs, meaning it can penetrate deeper into pores, removing dirt and impurities there too.
  • Anti-Aging – Collagen is a protein responsible for keeping skin plump and firm. For this reason, Glycolic Acid is said to be a key ingredient for anti-aging skincare, as it helps to reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.
  • Suitable for All Skin Types – As long as you’re conscious of the formula strength you use, Glycolic Acid is beneficial for all skin types! As a rule of thumb, if you have sensitive skin, start with a lower percentage formula and work your way up to avoid irritation.
  • Easy to Use – Glycolic Acid, which was once exclusive to fancy spa treatments, can now be found in countless at-home products, with many being suitable for daily use.

Eager to try Glycolic Acid for yourself? We take you through how to use Glycolic Acid and recommend some of the best Revolution Skincare products to introduce into your regime.

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How to Use Glycolic Acid

Depending on your skin type and personal preference, there are a multitude of super easy ways to introduce Glycolic Acid into your skincare routine.

Due to its exfoliating properties, it’s often recommended that you ditch the manual exfoliators and scrubs, as using both is too harsh on the skin.

Expert Tip: Glycolic Acid also leaves skin more vulnerable to sun damage, so be sure to always wear SPF, even on cloudy days!

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Best Glycolic Acid Skincare

By adding just one of these Revolution Skincare products into your regime, you’ll be able to enjoy all the benefits of fresh, renewed skin and support a gorgeous, healthy-looking complexion.

  1. Best Glycolic Acid Cleanser
    $13.10 Buy now with revolutionbeauty-us

    Best Glycolic Acid Cleanser

    The Revolution Skincare Glycolic Acid Glow Mud Cleanser is perfect for those looking for an introduction to Glycolic Acid.

    The gentle yet deeply cleansing skincare staple not only removes excess oil and debris thanks to super absorbing Kaolin Clay, but also exfoliates the skin to reveal a beautiful radiance.

    Use the Glycolic Acid face wash as your second evening cleanse to remove the impurities of the day, or as your morning cleanser to prep the skin for the day ahead.

    How to use: Massage into a damp face, avoiding the eye area, then rinse and pat dry.

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  2. Best Glycolic Acid At-Home Facial
    $13.10 Buy now with revolutionbeauty-us

    Best Glycolic Acid At-Home Facial

    Glycolic Acid is often a popular ingredient for spa treatments and facials – but who has the time to visit the salon every week? Revolution Skincare have got your back with our Glycolic Acid Glow Polisher. 

    Designed to be used 2-3 times a week, our at-home facial helps to buff away dead skin cells, while offering a boost of moisture. As well as Glycolic Acid, it blends Hydrated Silica Particles (which is microplastic free, don’t worry) with Panthenol to exfoliate the skin, keeping it soft, supple and smooth.

    How to use: After cleansing, apply to damp skin. Gently massage in circular motions, avoiding contact with the eye area. Rinse with lukewarm water.

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  3. Best Glycolic Acid Toner
    $11.00 Buy now with revolutionbeauty-us

    Best Glycolic Acid Toner

    For a more concentrated dose of Glycolic Acid, why not try the Revolution Skincare Glycolic Acid Glow Polisher?

    To be applied after cleansing and before moisturizing, condition your skin with this revitalizing tonic. While the Glycolic Acid exfoliates, Ginseng offers brightening, antioxidant properties, Aloe Vera soothes the skin, and Witch Hazel helps to tighten pores – it’s the full package!

    How to use: Apply Glycolic Acid toner to a cotton pad, then swipe all around the face. We recommend that you wear sun cream when using this toner, as it can increase your skin’s sensitivity and risk of sunburn.

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  4. Best Glycolic Acid Serum
    $14.00 Buy now with revolutionbeauty-us

    Best Glycolic Acid Serum

    Want a Glycolic Acid product that packs a punch? Try the Revolution Skincare 10% Glycolic Acid Glow Serum!

    Our transparent night-time serum is super absorbent, sinking rapidly into skin to unlock turbo-charged exfoliating properties. It also works to balance skin’s pH and gradually reduce the appearance of blemishes and acne scars.

    Due to its high concentration of AHAs, we don’t recommend using this if you struggle with sensitive skin.

    How to use: This highly concentrated Glycolic Acid serum only requires a few drops each night to work its magic. Apply to the face with your fingertips, then allow to absorb before continuing with your remaining skincare.

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  5. Best Glycolic Acid Night Cream
    $17.00 Buy now with revolutionbeauty-us

    Best Glycolic Acid Night Cream

    Finally, if it’s an overnight treatment you’re looking for, we recommend the Revolution Skincare Glycolic Acid Glow Overnight Cream.

    Our illuminating night cream is not only rich in moisturizing Squalane and Allantoin (both of which are fabulous for soothing dry skin), but the Glycolic Acid gently exfoliates the surface layer of dead cells, revealing radiant, healthy-looking skin by morning.

    How to use: Finish your evening skincare routine by applying a thin layer of our Glycolic Acid night cream all over the face. Use circular motions to ensure even coverage.

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Revolution Beauty

Revolution Beauty

Writer and expert