Glycolic acid: benefits and how to use this new-generation exfoliant

If you have never heard ofglycolic acidit's high time you did! It is the star acid of chemical exfoliation (or peeling), and is a perfect replacement for the small grains found in many facial scrubs, which tend to be a little too aggressive for the skin. At Oh My Cream, we are big fans ofglycolic acid which can really make a difference to the skin: tighter pores, a more even complexion, smoother skin, visible reduction in pigmentation spots, etc. You too can integrate the glycolic acid peel into your beauty routine!

What is glycolic acid and what are its properties?

Why and how to perform a glycolic acid peel? 

When we talk about a peel, we mean a chemical exfoliation based on fruit acids. The most common peel is the glycolic acid peel. A glycolic acid peel is used to exfoliate the skin in order to rid it of dead cells to promote cell regeneration and thus obtain a clearer, smoother and more even skin.

There are different degrees of peel strength, more or less deep, depending on the concentration of glycolic acid (but also other exfoliating agents such as retinol or salicylic acid). There are both gentle peels with 5% glycolic acid and more concentrated peels with 15% glycolic acid. So if you have sensitive skin or have never used this type of exfoliant before, it is best to use gentle peels. On the other hand, if you are used to using exfoliating products on your face, you can easily use more concentrated peels.

Obviously, the more concentrated the peel, the more important it is to space out the applications. You should never carry out a glycolic acid peel more than twice a week (unless it is very, very gentle), as this may sensitise your skin. Finally, as with any exfoliating product and to avoid it being counter-productive, it is preferable to use it in the evening to limit any risk of photosensitisation. We also recommend that you always use a sun protection product as a complement.

The results of glycolic acid peels can be seen very quickly. But, to obtain long-lasting results, nothing beats regular use (while taking care not to over-exfoliate your skin, of course ;-)  

Our favourite glycolic acid products? 

  • The Glycolactic Skin Renewal Mask from Ren SkincareThe Glycolactic Mask is a cocktail of fruit acids (including glycolic acid) to give your skin a new look almost instantly! This mask should be applied once or twice a week and left on for 10 minutes before rinsing.
  • The Radiance Renewals Pads from Indie LeeThe Radiance Renewal Pads are cotton pads soaked in a solution of glycolic acid and vitamin C for an instant radiance boost!

What are the contraindications to the use of glycolic acid? 

As with any exfoliating agent, redness may occur with the use of a glycolic acid peelThis is even more the case if the peel is highly concentrated in acid. Similarly, the application of a glycolic acid peel may cause a slight tingling sensation. This is completely normal! However, if you experience intense tingling or a burning sensation, it is likely that your skin is not tolerating the glycolic acid. Don't panic, rinse your product immediately with clean water and switch to products with a lower concentration or another exfoliating agent such as BHA.

Glycolic acid and the sun do not mix well... in fact, it is a photosensitising agent. Therefore, it is advisable to apply glycolic acid products in the evening and to wear sun protection in the morning. As a general rule, do not carry out this type of peel when you know that you are going to be exposed to the sun for a long time, even the next day. In other words, avoid this type of product during the summer holidays... and reserve it for the beginning of the school year!


Our glycolic acid nuggets

If you need personal advice, especially on which type of glycolic acid peel please feel free to contact our Beauty Coaches via our chat or by email at