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02-23-15 | Posted by

If you want firmer, younger looking skin and you’re not using glycolic acid as part of your skincare regimen, you might want to rethink that decision. Glycolic acid, a highly effective AHA (alpha hydroxy acid) can transform your skin by breaking down and exfoliating the old, dead, dull surface skin cells to reveal brighter, rosier, more luminous skin. This chemical exfoliant diminishes fine lines and wrinkles, hyper-pigmentation, age spots and scars while it boosts collagen production and radiance. It can even eradicate blackheads, improve acne and make pores appear less visible.


Dermatologists perform glycolic acid peels because they can rejuvenate the skin in very little time with very little downtime. A physician can use a higher concentration of active ingredients than you can at home from over the counter products so you’ll achieve great results in a lesser time frame.

In-office peels are ideal for those with aged skin or those prone to acne. Your doctor can adjust the percentage of glycolic acid depending on your skin issues and concerns. For best results, they’re usually done in a series of 4-6 treatments spaced a few weeks apart. With follow-up maintenance peels recommended every few months. The cost varies greatly but you can expect to pay between $250 – 750 per peel depending on the strength of your peel and the location of the treatment.

One of the best clinical peels hails from ZO Skin Health – the ZO® 3-STEP PEELâ„¢. With minimal downtime, this potent peel treatment is suitable for all skin types. Peeling is very mild, with minimal to no downtime, and it helps to improve acne, sun damage, fine lines, texture, pigmentation, and enlarged pores.


You can expect to find over-the-counter glycolic acid products in a variety of products–everything from at-home peels to cleansers, moisturizers and more. Here, what to expect and 5 tips to help you get it right:

  • When using any glycolic acid product, probable side effects are a tingling sensation (totally normal!), some mild temporary redness and even some flaking or peeling when first using. Apply at night so any redness you experience can subside overnight.
  • Many AHA products can be used morning and night but if you’re new to glycolic acid, build up to that frequency to avoid irritation.
  • It’s highly recommended that you start with a lower concentration of glycol (around 10%) when beginning and work your way up to the higher concentrations available as your skin acclimates.
  • If you have sensitive skin, rosacea or another skin condition talk to your doctor about other alternatives before using any AHA product.
  • AHA’s increase sun sensitivity and can also trigger pigment changes from the sun so wear always use a daily SPF 30+ to protect your skin.



Cane + Austin Miracle Pad ($78 for 60 pads) are single use pads saturated with buffered pharmaceutical-grade Glycolic Acid and antioxidants that deliver in-office results at home. After swiping on, leave on for 5 minutes before topping with moisturizer. Equal to a 20% Glycolic Acid treatment.

Miracle pad (Credit: Cane & Austin)


ProX by Olay Nightly Purifying Micro-Peel ($40) is the latest product in Olay’s ProX line, specifically developed to meet the high standards of twelve world-renowned experts, each a respected master of science and skin biology. This clinically proven, triple-acid micro-peel works fast to jump-start the exfoliation rate, increase skin firmness. Besides glycolic acid, it also contains soothing and regenerating vitamin B5.

Olay ProX Anti-Aging Nightly Purifying Micro-Peel (Credit: Drugstore.com)


Glytone Retexurize Body Lotion ($40) makes it easy for you to give a dull, dry-skinned body a reboot. It smoothes, retextures and promotes more radiant, even-toned skin, thanks to its 17.5% glycolic acid, moisturizers and antioxidant formula.

Retexturizing Body Lotion (Credit: Glytone)


NeoStrata Ultra Daytime Smoothing Creme SPF 20 ($42) treats and protects at once to exfoliate, preserve collagen and prevent oxidative damage. Superstar ingredients include glycolic acid, lactobionic acid and broad spectrum sunscreen.

NeoStrata Ultra Daytime Smoothing Cream SPF 20 (Credit: NeoStrata)


iS Clinical Cleansing Complex ($36) cleans deep down into pores without stripping or drying your complexion and does double duty as a weekly exfoliating mask. Glycolic and salicylic acids gently slough and resurface skin while antioxidants offer protection. Ideal for even the most sensitive skin.

Cleansing Complex (Credit: iSclinical)


Exuviance Performance Peel AP25 ($75) combines Glycolic Acid, Mandelic Acid and Gluconolactone to exfoliate and stimulate cell renewal. 100% of users saw improvement in fine lines & wrinkles after one month of twice weekly use!

Exuviance Performance Peel AP25 (Credit: NeoStrata)



  1. Otc Products With Glycolic Acid | Best Cure For Hemorrhoids Says:

    […] PRO VS. FAUX: SKIN BRIGHTENING WITH GLYCOLIC ACID – Dermatologists perform glycolic acid peels because they can rejuvenate the skin in very little time with very little downtime. A physician can use a higher concentration of active ingredients than you can at home from over … […]

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