As part of our glycolic acid agenda, we’ve been tracking down every single glycolic acid product to help you gradually incorporate this exfoliant into your skincare routine. If you’re new to the ingredient, we suggest you start with a glycolic acid toner. If you’re a regular, then you know that things are always better in a serum form. Below are the best glycolic acid serums for hyperpigmentation, acne, wrinkles, and other skin concerns. But first, a brush-up to help you make a more informed decision to pick your new favorite serum.
What does glycolic acid do for your skin?
Simply put, the top layer of your skin consists mainly of dead skin cells. When they overstay their welcome, they give you dull, flaky, and congested skin.
Glycolic acid, one of the best performing alpha-hydroxy acids (AHAs), exfoliates the skin and separates these cells, and cuts them loose. That way, they shed off easily and more frequently, giving you a smoother, brighter, and healthier complexion with an even skin tone.
Why use a glycolic acid serum instead of a cream?
Because serums are more penetrating than creams. This gives serums the ability to work faster and more effectively. The high concentration of glycolic acid in a serum form is able to travel deeper into the skin where creams simply can’t.
Think of cosmo without the cranberry juice. Sure, the juice makes it taste better. But sometimes, you want to chug the vodka and not be held down by the juice. Similarly, sometimes you just want your glycolic acid.
How to choose a glycolic acid serum?
There are pure glycolic acid serums as well as multi-acid serums. A multi-acid serum can contain additional AHAs besides glycolic acid. You’ll also see that there are combinations of AHAs and BHAs and sometimes PHAs as well. This does not reduce the effects of the acids.
The reason behind these acid medleys is to create a formula that can target several skin issues at once. For example, all skin types can benefit from a pure glycolic acid serum. However, if you’re also dealing with acne or pores, you want some salicylic acid in your serum as well.
Similarly, if you have sensitive skin, you can benefit from lactic acid serums topped with glycolic acid to kind of dilute the solution. Because lactic acid is more gentle. As you can see, multi acids give you an option to find a more targeted glycolic acid serum better suited to your needs.
The Best Glycolic Acid Serums
Remember, exfoliating acids can make your skin sensitive to the sun and can cause redness and irritation. It doesn’t matter if you use your serum in the evening or in the morning. Always apply your sunscreen before you leave the house. Now, feel free to enjoy the best glycolic acid serums below to get glowing skin.
This one is an amazing AHA serum that’s enriched with natural exfoliants as well. Besides glycolic acid, the serum has lactic acid, which is also a humectant that hydrates the skin, mind you. It also has several extracts like sugar cane, which is a natural source of glycolic acid, and licorice extract, which helps brighten the skin.
Additionally, the night serum also contains gluconolactone, a polyhydroxy acid (PHA), with a concentration of 10%. It helps gently exfoliate and hydrate the skin as well. The glycolic acid night serum is perfect for your evening routine to wake up to transformed skin.
Key Ingredients: Glycolic acid, lactic acid, gluconolactone. Concentration: 10% AHAs, 10% PHAs. Skin Type: Normal, combination, dry, oily. Size: 1 oz. Notes: Scented.
This is the best anti-aging glycolic acid serum that can give you spa-level results. Because it’s infused with several anti-aging ingredients to delay and treat the signs of aging like wrinkles, lines, and dark spots. In addition to glycolic acid’s skin-transforming benefits, it has plant-derived retinol (bakuchiol) for its age-defying benefits.
Similar to retinol, bakuchiol speeds up skin turnover and stimulates collagen formation. But unlike retinol, it doesn’t cause that much irritation or dryness. To top it off, the serum has Granactive retinoid for maximum wrinkle-reducing effects. It also has purple orchid extract to plump up the skin and soften the look of lines. Additional nourishing antioxidants make this one a super-effective anti-aging glycolic acid serum to exfoliate your skin and smooth out its texture.
Key Ingredients: Glycolic acid, bakuchiol, granactive retinoid. Concentration: 7% glycolic acid. Skin Type: All but sensitive. Size: 1oz. Notes: Higher price per ounce.
Pure, unadulterated glycolic acid serum to exfoliate the skin inside and out. The drugstore serum strips the skin off the dead skin cells laying on the surface of the skin. In doing so, it increases the skin’s natural radiance for a smoother and more radiant complexion, free of dullness and acne scars.
As glycolic acid can be irritating for some skin types, the serum also packs aloe vera juice to soothe the skin and avoid irritation and redness. No parabens and no fragrance! The pure isolated acid makes it easier for you to observe your skin’s improvement day by day.
Key Ingredients: Glycolic acid, aloe. Concentration: 10% glycolic acid. Skin Type: All but sensitive. Size: 1 oz. Notes: Fragrance-free formula.
This one is perfect for those of you who are suffering from hyperpigmentation and dark spots. Let me elaborate. Besides glycolic acid, this serum contains lipo hydroxy acid. It’s a derivative of salicylic acid. The thing you should know about this acid is that it’s a gentle exfoliant with some amazing skin-clearing abilities.
It’s super beneficial in brightening up the skin. Additionally, the serum has kojic acid and tranexamic acid. They’re both known to treat sun-damaged skin, reduce pigmentation, and fade dark spots. Combining exfoliating glycolic acid with these brightening ones makes this serum perfect for targetting pigmentation and discoloration issues. Plus, the formula is oil-free and fragrance-free.
Key Ingredients: Glycolic acid, tranexamic acid, vitamin B5. Concentration: 10% glycolic acid. Skin Type: All including sensitive. Size: 1 oz. Notes: Fragrance-free, oil-free.
This is an incredibly skin-friendly and natural glycolic acid serum. The acids in this one are not synthetic, but all derived from natural sources. Extracts like sugar cane give you the natural exfoliating benefits of glycolic acid. And willow bark gives you a natural source of salicylic acid to clear out congested skin and refine pores.
As salicylic acid works better for oily skin, the serum helps with excess oil, blemishes, and pores as well. Hydration booster hyaluronic acid and lactic acid plump up the skin and make exfoliation a breeze. Additional benefits include the amazing rose water to soothe and refresh the skin.
Key Ingredients: Naturally-derived AHAs and salicylic acid. Concentration: 12% AHA, 3% salicylic acid. Skin Type: All but sensitive. Size: 1 oz. Notes: Contains natural fragrance.
This one’s a favorite for all, and for good reason! With a combination of different AHAs and salicylic acid, it tackles several skin issues for several skin types. The combination eliminates flakiness, dullness, and roughness on the skin. With the help of salicylic acid, it keeps the oil in check and balances your complexion.
And it keeps the pores free of dirt that causes congestion and blackheads. By keeping them clean, it shrinks the pores as well. The glycolic acid serum is also infused with several nourishing antioxidants derived from green tea and grape juice to prevent and treat free radical damage. It’s clean, fragrance-free, and an overall amazing glycolic acid serum for all skin types.
Key Ingredients: Glycolic, lactic, and salicylic acid. Concentration: 10% AHA, 1% salicylic acid. Skin Type: Normal, dry, combination, oily. Size: 1 oz. Notes: Fragrance-free.
This is another potent glycolic acid serum that means business. It has 10% glycolic acid as well as retinyl palmitate. It’s a form of vitamin A and it’s way gentler than retinol. It’s not only helpful in dealing with lines and wrinkles, but also with acne and scarring as well.
While glycolic acid exfoliates the skin and resurfaces a healthier layer, vitamin C makes sure that the new layer glows like never before. The overnight serum also has aloe and cucumber to calm the skin, and vitamin E to make sure your skin stays hydrated, soft, and irritation-free!
Key Ingredients: Glycolic acid, vitamin C. Concentration: 10% glycolic acid. Skin Type: All but very sensitive. Size: 1.01 oz.
This is another super potent formula made with 10% glycolic acid. The resurfacing serum targets all signs of aging and renews the skin texture with the added goodies. Besides glycolic acid, it has a polyhydroxy acid, lactobionic acid. It’s a super gentle exfoliant that has antioxidant and hydration benefits for the skin.
Additionally, it contains polyphenols, namely EGCG. It’s an antioxidant that’s abundantly found in green tea extracts that reduces sun damage on the skin. With its exfoliating and renewing formula, the glycolic acid serum is one of the most effective ones out there.
Key Ingredients: Glycolic and lactobionic acid. Concentration: 10% glycolic acid. Skin Type: All but sensitive. Size: 1 oz. Notes: Contains fragrance.
Similarly, this glycolic acid serum also packs a polyhydroxy acid; gluconolactone. Combining glycolic acid with a PHA makes sure your skin is smoother and brighter but still plump and bouncy. The lightweight night serum also has soothing aloe and a blend of fruit acids.
These are natural sources for other exfoliating acids like tartaric, citric, and malic. The rich formula gets rid of the dead skin cells and revives lackluster skin while also plumping it up. Whether it’s for acne or wrinkles or congestion, this is one of the best affordable glycolic acid serums to get healthier skin.
Key Ingredients: Glycolic acid, gluconolactone, squalane. Concentration: Unknown. Skin Type: All. Size: 1 oz. Notes: Contains fragrance.
And for vitamin C lovers, it doesn’t get any better than this. The serum boasts a 15% vitamin C topped with glycolic acid and lactic acid. This multi-tasker is your exfoliating serum as well as your daily antioxidant serum. While AHAs work to exfoliate and retexturize the skin, vitamin C targets signs of aging like wrinkles, fine lines, and dark spots.
This powerful antioxidant also protects the skin from further free radical damage. It’s like your skin’s shield against UV and pollution. And it’s perfect for normal, oily, and combination skin. The super-charged formula is literally the recipe for glowing skin, making it one of the best glycolic acid serums.
Key Ingredients: Glycolic and lactic acid, vitamin C. Concentration: 10% AHA. Skin Type: Normal, combination, oily. Size: 1 oz. Notes: Fragrance-free.
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