August 20, 2020

8 Best Glycolic Acid Products for Acne Scars and Large Pores

Best Glycolic Acid Products

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You’ve probably heard about Glycolic Acid somewhere down the line when you were first starting to learn about skin care. Many people love raving about it because of the many benefits it can give the skin.

Since it’s an exfoliant, it can clarify, smoothen, and detoxify all at the same time. It’s known to treat uneven texture caused by fine lines, acne, and scarring.

Glycolic Acid is your best bet for achieving a smoother and healthier complexion. Check out the 10 best glycolic acid products below and take your pick.

Table of Contents

8 Best Glycolic Acid Products

Our Pick

The Ordinary has received plenty of hype in the past couple of years because of their effective products. And the best part is that everything is still pretty affordable.

Their Glycolic Acid 7% Toning Solution is one of their best-sellers. We chose it as our top pick because apart from being a good exfoliant, it also nourishes the skin well.

It contains 7% Glycolic Acid which is good for mild exfoliation. It’s great for clarifying the skin by removing dead skin cells and encouraging faster skin renewal.

An ingredient called Tasmanian Pepperberry is added into the formula. It minimizes skin irritation that can potentially come from the Glycolic Acid.

Other ingredients include Ginseng Root and Aloe Vera. They work together to make your complexion look healthier. And Aloe Vera is also a known soothing ingredient that can enhance the calming properties of Tasmanian Pepperberry.

It’s not recommended that you use it every day from the start even though this is a toner. Glycolic Acid is a direct acid so it’s best to introduce it gradually into your routine. Start with applying once a day, 3 times a week, and then on alternate days once you feel that your skin has adjusted. Eventually, you can use it every day.

With regular use, you’ll notice a smoother complexion and less noticeable pores. Many users also found that it controls oiliness and shine on their face. It can also prevent whiteheads from forming and make acne scars less visible.

Pros

  • Gentle exfoliation for the skin
  • Smooths out uneven skin texture and scars
  • Has nourishing and soothing ingredients
  • Prevents oiliness and whiteheads on the face

Cons

  • Not suitable for those with extra dry skin
  • Many counterfeit versions are being sold online

Best Serum

Drunk Elephant products remain a staple in our skin care reviews. We just love how they can create highly effective products without sacrificing aesthetics. Their bright packaging will forever look interesting and appealing to us.

The T.L.C. Framboos Glycolic Night Serum is our top pick if you’re looking for a serum product. Apart from the Glycolic Acid content, it contains a combination of rich ingredients that will nourish your skin.

To start, the product label says that it contains 12% of a mix of both Alpha Hydroxy Acid (AHA) and Beta Hydroxy Acid (BHA). If you don’t already know, these are chemical exfoliants that work to renew the skin by sloughing off dead skin cells.

The AHAs present in this serum are Glycolic Acid and Lactic Acid. Glycolic Acid is great at exfoliation to increase cell turnover. Lactic Acid is also an exfoliant but is gentler and more moisturizing. The combination of both brightens hyperpigmentation, dark spots, and scarring.

The BHA present in this serum is Salicylic Acid. This popular acne remedy is also an exfoliant. Salicylic Acid works by unclogging and decongesting your pores. It can also dissolve any clogged oil or dead skin cells that are deep inside your skin.

Other ingredients include Raspberry Fruit, Cactus, and White Tea Leaf extracts. They’re effective soothing agents that also help retain moisture in the skin. Galactoarabinan is another soothing ingredient that’s present in this serum as well.

Yeast Extract and Virgin Marula Oil are other notable components of this serum. The former is a potent anti-aging ingredient that prevents fine lines and wrinkles from forming. The latter is a highly moisturizing oil that gives the skin a healthier glow.

Finally, Sodium Hyaluronate Crosspolymer adds more moisture to the skin. It’s a derivative of Hyaluronic Acid, which you might already know as a skin hydrator.

Pros

  • AHA and BHA ingredients effectively exfoliate the skin
  • Brightens skin tone and hyperpigmentation
  • Prevents and treats acne with the Salicylic Acid content
  • Highly moisturizing and soothing formula
  • Contains anti-aging components to prevent fine lines

Cons

  • Expensive compared to other Glycolic Acids

Best Cleanser

Your skin care routine can never be complete without a cleanser. It’s the most basic part. Getting one that’s infused with Glycolic Acid is a great way to make your cleansing time more meaningful.

This Mild Gel Cleanser by Glytone comes highly recommended. It contains AHA in the formula to help gently exfoliate your face while you cleanse.

The AHA in question? It’s, you guessed it, Glycolic Acid. With each wash, this product will give gentle exfoliation of dead skin cells from your face. In turn, you’ll enjoy less visible texture and pores.

You’ll also notice anti-aging benefits once you start to use this product regularly. The mild exfoliation it gives can also prevent fine lines and wrinkles from forming. It also increases the cell regeneration processes of the skin so any crease lines are filled in.

This cleanser also has a pH-balanced formula so it keeps the skin moisturized despite containing an exfoliant. Vitamin C is also added to help brighten dark spots and hyperpigmentation issues.

It’s best to use this only twice a day, in the morning and at night. And make sure that you apply sunscreen after since it’ll make your face more vulnerable to sunlight and UV rays.

Pros

  • Removes dirt and impurities
  • Gives gentle exfoliation that’s safe enough for everyday
  • pH-balanced formula
  • Fills in fine lines and wrinkles

Cons

  • There are a lot of fake versions of this sold online
  • Expensive compared to other Glycolic Acid cleansers

If Drunk Elephant’s Glycolic Night Serum piqued your interest but still seems out of your budget, then this is a great alternative. Most of Paula’s Choice products are priced affordably and this serum gel is no exception.

It’s called an 8% AHA Gel because it contains 8% Glycolic Acid. As an exfoliant, Glycolic Acid is great at getting rid of dead skin cells to reveal a smoother complexion. When applied regularly, this product resurfaces uneven skin texture and fills in fine lines.

Other ingredients in this gel serum Aloe Vera Leaf Juice, Chamomile, and Green tea extract. They all give the skin similar benefits since they are soothing and nourishing agents.

This serum certainly doesn’t skimp on providing moisture since it also has Sodium Hyaluronate. As a known hydrator and derivative of Hyaluronic Acid, it keeps your skin moisturized for much longer.

You can use this AHA gel one to two times a day, as long as you follow it with sunscreen after. It’s been known to be safe enough to use on people with sensitive skin types as well.

Pros

  • Gently exfoliates the skin for a better complexion
  • Smooths out uneven texture and wrinkles
  • Highly soothing and nourishing ingredients
  • Safe enough for sensitive skin types

Cons

  • Some users find that it takes some time to see visible results
  • Bottle size is smaller compared to other cleansers

This is probably one of the most popular toners with Glycolic Acid available today. You’ll immediately notice this product as well since it comes in a skinny orange bottle.

If you’re still starting to slowly incorporate Glycolic Acid into your routine, then this toner is a great choice. Compared to most Glycolic Acid toners with high concentrations, this only has 5% Glycolic Acid content.

You get the mildest level of exfoliation that can still deliver noticeable effects. With regular use, you’ll see that this clarifies and refines your pores. It’s great at decongesting oil and gunk from them.

And aside from the Glycolic Acid that this contains, it also has Aloe Vera. This is so that your skin is soothed and hydrated as it receives exfoliation. Ginseng Root Extract is also added to strengthen your skin and offer protection against damage.

Many people who’ve bought and tried this toner observed that they now have a healthier-looking complexion. It helped brighten hyperpigmentation and other marks that they had.

Unlike most toners, this doesn’t contain any alcohol or parabens. It’s also safe enough to use daily without causing dryness.

Pros

  • Low concentration of Glycolic Acid is perfect for first-time users
  • Exfoliates and decongests the pores
  • Contains hydrating and soothing ingredients
  • Safe enough to use every day

Cons

  • The 5% Glycolic Acid content isn’t potent enough for users who’ve already tried higher concentrations
  • Expensive compared to other toners

One more cleanser option that we recommend is this product by Mario Badescu. You might’ve already heard of the brand’s face sprays and drying lotions but we think that this cleanser is another worthy product to remember it by.

The Glycolic Acid present in the formula works to get rid of dirt, oil, and makeup from the face. With every wash, this cleanser sloughs off dead skin and impurities from the surface of your face.

St. John’s Wort and Chamomile are also part of the ingredient list. These two work together to prevent irritation. Other ingredients include Marshmallow, Sage, and Yarrow which are known for their nourishing properties.

With diligent use, you’ll notice smoother skin texture, less noticeable pores, and a brighter complexion. This product can even treat aging signs like dark spots, fines lines, and wrinkles.

One thing we love about this is that you can use it on your body as well. Mario Badescu’s aestheticians recommend that you apply it to problem areas on your body once or twice a week. You’ll thank us later.

When using this on the face, take note that you should only use it 1 to 3 times a week. This is since the high Glycolic Acid content can potentially dry out your skin if used daily.

Pros

  • Cleans and decongests the pores
  • Brightens skin tone and acne scars
  • Has anti-aging properties
  • Can also be used on the body

Cons

  • Can’t be used every day
  • Not suitable for sensitive skin

If it’s a moisturizer that you’re looking for, then look no further. This 10% Glycolic Solutions Moisturizer by Peter Thomas Roth is what we recommend.

With a concentration of 10%, the Glycolic Acid in this product is strong enough to improve your skin tone and texture quickly. Since it’s a chemical exfoliant, it greatly improves the appearance of large pores and wrinkles.

Other ingredients included are Arginine and Aloe Vera. They’re both intensely nourishing and soothing for the skin. They’re perfect for countering any possible irritation that the high Glycolic Acid content in the formula might cause.

With the rich and potent ingredients mixed into this product, you could argue that it can function just as well as a serum can. You can definitely skip your serum step if you’re using this moisturizer since it’s already loaded with effective components.

Since this contains a high amount of Glycolic Acid, you should always pair it with an SPF product. It’s still safe enough to use every day though, as long as you just wear your sunscreen.

Users who’ve purchased this product found that they have smoother skin with regular use. It also lessened acne breakouts for some users since it’s a great exfoliant.

Pros

  • Improves uneven and rough skin texture
  • Prevents and treats wrinkles
  • Contains soothing and nourishing ingredients
  • Can lessen acne breakouts

Cons

  • There are plenty of counterfeit versions sold online
  • Not suitable for those whose skin is extra sensitive

Want professional-level exfoliation but have no time to book an appointment? This product by Bliss is the solution.

Each Resurfacing Pad is soaked in a perfectly concocted AHA recipe. The star ingredient is 10% Glycolic Acid which exfoliates the surface of your face. It helps reveal a smoother and brighter complexion, free from dark spots and acne scars.

Other ingredients of the recipe are Vitamin E, Licorice Root Extract, and Calendula Flower Extract. Vitamin E is a known antioxidant while Licorice Root and Calendula Flower extracts are known soothing agents. They can calm down any irritation that the Glycolic Acid might cause.

Witch Hazel and Glycerin are also part of the formula. Witch Hazel is a natural astringent that tones, cleanses, and soothes. Glycerin is a popular humectant that retains hydration and moisture on your skin.

Since each Resurfacing Pad is individually packed, this product is perfect for travel or if you’re always on the go. To use, simply swipe one pad all over your face after cleansing and toning. Apply moisturizer (and sunscreen if you’re using it during the daytime) after it’s fully absorbed and you’ll be all set.

One more thing we love about this is that it’s free from sulfates, parabens, and phthalates. Even though it’s a potent exfoliant, it still doesn’t contain harsh chemicals.

You should only use this 3 times a week at most though. As mentioned, it contains 10% Glycolic Acid, which is a high concentration. Applying this product too often may cause dryness and irritation.

Pros

  • Smooths out uneven texture
  • Brightens hyperpigmentation
  • Has soothing and moisturizing ingredients
  • Pads are individually packed so they’re great for travel

Cons

  • Not recommended if your skin is sensitive
  • Expensive

Who Should Use Glycolic Acid Products?

Glycolic Acid is classified as an Alpha Hydroxy Acid (AHA). This means that it’s water-soluble and a much gentler alternative to stronger exfoliants like Beta Hydroxy Acids (BHA). Other AHAs include Lactic Acid, Tartaric Acid, and Citric Acid.

You’re a perfect candidate for Glycolic Acid if you want to improve skin texture and tone. It’s also great if you want to treat and delay aging signs. Glycolic Acid is perfect for filling in fine lines and wrinkles to give you firmer skin.

You should also know that it’s a gentler alternative for preventing acne. Though it might be easier to immediately reach for Salicylic Acid for your pimples, Glycolic Acid is also worthy of a try. It unclogs congested pores which are usually the main cause of acne.

How Often Should You Apply Glycolic Acid?

Though Glycolic Acid is generally gentler than other chemical exfoliants, you should still avoid applying it often. Since it’s still an exfoliant, using it too much can damage and dry your skin.

How often you need to apply it depends on the concentration as well. A concentration of about 5% is much safer to use more often than something with a 10% concentration.

A good rule of thumb would be to only use a Glycolic Acid product 3 times a week, at most. This is especially if you’re a first time user. By limiting your use, you’ll save yourself from potential irritation.

Conclusion

Now that you’ve read all about the best Glycolic Acid skincare products, all that’s left to do is for you to choose the right one for you.

Whether it’s a cleanser, toner, or serum, Glycolic Acid will surely improve your complexion in the long run. Not only will it prevent breakouts, but it’ll also keep you looking young.

So don’t waste any more time and invest in one now!

If you’re looking for formulas with stronger potencies, then you should also check out our article on the Best At-Home Chemical Peels for Hyperpigmentation. And if you need a good exfoliant for your body, then we also recommend you see our Best Salicylic Acid Body Washes article.

Paola Diaz
Paola Diaz

Hi, I'm Paola! A skin care enthusiast and nature lover. Creating content that promotes proper skin treatment and keeping a healthy glow is my way of sharing with the world how healthy skin can go a long way. I’m a firm believer of natural beauty that radiates inside all of us. All we need is the right kind of nourishment that inspires our wellness from inside out. So it’s really not about physical beauty alone – it’s the beautiful life we can create for ourselves when we connect with our own nature and see there is beauty that shines from every one of us.