Glycolic acid: Benefits and Uses in Skincare

Nikki Chase



Time to read 3 min

Glycolic acid benefits the skin many ways. Here's all the ways it can help give you more radiant looking skin.

Glycolic acid is a water-soluble alpha hydroxy acid (AHA) made from sugar cane and widely used in skincare products.

Its small molecules are easily absorbed by the skin, making it effective for smoothing fine lines, improving skin texture, and other anti-aging uses.

With its various benefits, including anti-aging effects, hydration, fading sun damage, brightening the complexion, exfoliating the skin, and preventing acne, it has become a popular choice among skincare enthusiasts.

It is widely used in skincare products due to its numerous benefits for the skin. This article will explore what glycolic acid is, how it works, its benefits for the skin, common uses, how to incorporate it into your skincare routine, and some important facts and tips.

What is glycolic acid?

Glycolic acid

Glycolic acid is a water-soluble alpha hydroxy acid (AHA) derived from sugar cane. It has small molecules that are easily absorbed by the skin, making it effective for various skincare purposes. Glycolic acid is commonly used in cleansers, masks, toners, and moisturizers.

How does glycolic acid work?

Glycolic acid is a substance that chemically exfoliates the skin by dissolving dead skin cells and oils.


Unlike physical exfoliants that require scrubbing, glycolic acid can remove the top layer of skin cells without causing irritation.


As an alpha hydroxy acid (AHA), glycolic acid has the smallest molecular structure among AHAs, allowing it to penetrate deeper into the skin.


Research suggests that glycolic acid may help with acne, UV damage, lines and wrinkles, and even warts. However, it is important to note that there are some risks associated with using glycolic acid, including UV damage, irritation, and hyperpigmentation.

Glycolic acid benefits for the skin

Glycolic acid offers numerous benefits for the skin.


It stimulates collagen and elastin production, which accelerates skin healing and reduces environmental damage. This makes it effective for treating blackheads, hyperpigmentation, enlarged pores, psoriasis, and other skin issues.


This powerful ingredient speeds up cell turnover by dissolving the bonds that hold skin cells together, allowing dead skin cells to shed more quickly. Additionally, glycolic acid triggers collagen production, making the skin firm, plump, and elastic.


Glycolic acid can be used in various forms, such as an overnight cream, everyday cleanser, exfoliating moisturizer, light peel, whitehead remover, body lotion, and even for rough or callused feet.

Glycolic acid uses

Glycolic acid can be found in many over-the-counter skincare products, including cleansers, masks, toners, and moisturizers.


Stronger treatments with higher percentages of glycolic acid can be done through professional chemical peels.


The choice of glycolic acid treatment depends on the individual's skin type and goals, with over-the-counter products being suitable for daily skincare and professional peels being more targeted for specific skin issues.


However, it is important to wear sunscreen when using glycolic acid, as it can make the skin more sensitive to the sun. Individuals with very sensitive skin may benefit from wash-off glycolic acid products like cleansers instead of leave-on treatments.

This Glycolic Acid Mask uses a clinical strength formula for an at home chemical peel that helps rejuvenate, exfoliate, and hydrate your skin with each use.

It is also enriched with powerful plant-based ingredients your skin will love.


  • Fine Lines & Wrinkles
  • Dull, Lifeless Skin
  • Blemishes
  • Clogged Pores

Glycolic acid skincare routine

When incorporating glycolic acid into your skincare routine, it is best to start gradually to allow the skin to adjust and increase usage over time.

However, it is important to avoid using glycolic acid if you are already using topical retinoids, like Retin-A or Differin, or if you are under the care of a dermatologist.

Glycolic acid supports collagen production, protects against sun damage, and prevents blocked pores. It is always recommended to consult a healthcare professional and do a patch test before using glycolic acid.

Additionally, when choosing a glycolic acid product, consider the concentration, pH, and format that best suits your skin's needs.

Nikki Chase

As co-owner Era Organics, Nikki's expertise runs deep. She spends her days immersed in the latest medical studies and scouring trusted websites, ensuring her knowledge reflects the cutting edge of science.

About Nikki Chase