Ingredient Spotlight — Glycolic Acid

BARE Skincare
2 min readSep 16, 2020


You’ve probably heard about Glycolic acid and its benefits, and maybe you’ve even already experimented with the queen of the Alpha Hydroxy Acid family. As far as exfoliants go, Glycolic acid is the most effective Alpha Hydroxy Acid out there because of its small molecular size, which means it penetrates the skin deeply and works quickly.

How does it work though?

Put simply, it breaks up the ‘glue’ that holds dead skin cells together on the surface of our skin, effectively removing them. As we age our cell turnover and renewal rates slow, which can lead to a buildup of dead skin cells on the skin’s surface. In addition to uneven texture, having an excess of dead skin cells causes breakouts, dullness and wrinkles. Not to mention, its exfoliating properties can help loosen up dark spots or hyperpigmentation.

How do I use it?

It’s great for any skin type but how you use it depends on your desired effects and your current skincare routine. Whether you have a spot for it in an old routine or you want an entirely new regimen, our Bare skin specialists have several options to fill any part of your routine with the popular anti-aging and acne fighting ingredient.

What’s the catch?

Using any Alpha-Hydroxy Acid increases your sensitivity to the sun though, so it’s important that you’re using a daily sunscreen. Additionally, Glycolic Acid can make your skin drier than normal, so make sure to introduce new products slowly and keep your skin heavily moisturized.

What percentages should I look out for in a product?

Starting out, look for very low percentages of this acid (2–5%) so your skin can properly adjust and you don’t end up scarring your face. You shouldn’t use anything more than 10 percent at home because the higher the percentage, the more likely it is to penetrate deeper. That might sound good, but you can cause your skin to get a chemical burn, especially if you leave Glycolic acid on for too long. Anything higher than 10 percent should be administered only by a dermatologist.