How do I Choose the Best Glycolic Acid Cream? (with pictures)

Bobby R. Goldsmith
Bobby R. Goldsmith
Glycolic acid cream.
Glycolic acid cream.

There are several things you need to consider when choosing the best glycolic acid cream for your beauty regimen. First, you must understand what glycolic acid cream is and how it works. You must then consider the texture of your skin as well your skin type. You must also decide what you want the cream to do and whether you need a prescription strength exfoliate. Also, you must consider the other products in your beauty regimen.

High-concentration chemical peels must be applied by a dermatologist.
High-concentration chemical peels must be applied by a dermatologist.

Glycolic acid is an alpha hydroxy acid (AHA), the active anti-aging ingredient found in numerous skin care products. AHA penetrates the top layer of skin, refining and smoothing the appearance of the skin, by cleansing the skin and exfoliating dead and aging skin away from the top layer. Over-the-counter glycolic acid cream diminishes hyperpigmentation conditions such as sun spots, or freckles, and dark patches.

Glycolic acid cream can help smooth the skin's appearance, reducing wrinkles.
Glycolic acid cream can help smooth the skin's appearance, reducing wrinkles.

AHA-based creams contain an acid concentration between 5 and 20 percent, which is the threshold for self-application of the treatment. They have a pH between 2.8 and 3. A glycolic chemical peel contains a higher concentration of AHA, making it highly effective for rejuvenating the facial skin tissue, but a high concentration chemical peel must be applied by a dermatologist.

Many people find that an over the counter (OTC) glycolic acid cream is sufficient for their needs.
Many people find that an over the counter (OTC) glycolic acid cream is sufficient for their needs.

Over-the-counter glycolic acid creams work well if you have dry or normal skin. If you have oily skin, the AHA in the cream will be less effective as it cannot penetrate as deeply. If you do have oily skin, consider using an AHA-based injectable serum instead. AHA-based glycolic acid creams also work well with fair skin, helping to diminish the sun blotches and freckling that melanin can generate. Prescription strength glycolic acid cream can also reduce some mild instances of psoriasis, which produces red, itchy patches on the skin.

Glycolic acid cream can be used to help minimize some of the outward signs of aging.
Glycolic acid cream can be used to help minimize some of the outward signs of aging.

If you seek only a mild treatment to diminish some of the outward signs of skin aging, most over the counter glycolic acid creams will suffice. If you need a product that will extensively exfoliate deep facial tissue, talk to your dermatologist about prescription strength treatments. Not all of the available prescription strength products will be AHA-based. Some will use another type of acidic exfoliate while others will not be acidic at all.

Over-the-counter glycolic acid creams work well for dry to normal skin.
Over-the-counter glycolic acid creams work well for dry to normal skin.

Be aware of possible reactions to the cream once it is applied to the skin. Before buying, look for wording on the package indicating that the cream is produced in a US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) certified facility. Look over the active and inactive ingredients to make sure that you aren't allergic to any component of the cream. Research potential chemical reactions of the ingredients in the glycolic acid cream with the active and inactive ingredients in other facial care products you use. You may not be allergic to a single chemical in either product, but a compound reaction could result from using two products in conjunction with one another.

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Discussion Comments

Talentryto

It is also important to remember that you skin may become more sensitive to the sun than normal while you are using glycolic acid cream. Like Heavanet said, the more sensitive your skin is, the more likely it will be that you experience sun sensitivity. Wearing a sunscreen lotion each day will help to keep your delicate skin protected.

Heavanet

Glycolic acid creams are great for making your skin smoother, brighter, and clearer. As a rule of thumb, the more sensitive your skin is, the lower the concentration of the cream should be when you select the best one for you. If you do not have side effects of red, irritated and itchy skin, then you can graduate to a stronger concentration if you prefer.

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    • Glycolic acid cream.
      Glycolic acid cream.
    • High-concentration chemical peels must be applied by a dermatologist.
      High-concentration chemical peels must be applied by a dermatologist.
    • Glycolic acid cream can help smooth the skin's appearance, reducing wrinkles.
      Glycolic acid cream can help smooth the skin's appearance, reducing wrinkles.
    • Many people find that an over the counter (OTC) glycolic acid cream is sufficient for their needs.
      Many people find that an over the counter (OTC) glycolic acid cream is sufficient for their needs.
    • Glycolic acid cream can be used to help minimize some of the outward signs of aging.
      Glycolic acid cream can be used to help minimize some of the outward signs of aging.
    • Over-the-counter glycolic acid creams work well for dry to normal skin.
      Over-the-counter glycolic acid creams work well for dry to normal skin.