Best Way to Exfoliate Dry Skin with Glycolic Acid & vitamin C

Glycolic acid and vitamin C are among the most popular active ingredients in skin care. In the right combination, they can ensure an even complexion, give a healthy glow and counteract impurities. Learn all about the effects of using glycolic acid and vitamin C together on your skin. But first, our recommendation for the best glycolic acid products. 

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Empyri Top 3 Glycolic Acid Products

Top Overall

Paula's Choice SKIN PERFECTING 8%AHA Gel Exfoliant with Glycolic Acid

3.3 oz for $32.30
Top Budget

Advanced Clinicals 10% Glycolic Acid Peel Serum

1.78 oz for $1.99
Top Lux

Dr. Dennis Gross Beta Universal Daily Peel Alpha

30 sachets for $92.00



What is glycolic acid?


Glycolic acid belongs to the alpha hydroxy acids (AHA) family and is classified as a fruit acid. In skin care, these are valued for their exfoliating effect, which is why they are included in special cosmetic products and chemical peels. In contrast to mechanical peelings, the exfoliating effect of AHA acids is particularly gentle: glycolic acid dissolves cellular compounds and gently removes them.

Glycolic acid stimulates skin cell renewal by removing old cells from the skin surface. As the skin texture is refined by the exfoliating effect, the complexion appears more even and gains radiance. Skin prone to blemishes also improves with the use of glycolic acid.


Glycolic acid effect on the skin 


By removing the uppermost layer, glycolic acid allows sebum to drain away more easily. This is the primary role of every alpha hydroxy acid - working on the skin's surface. Pores become less likely to clog, which can help prevent the appearance of pimples and blackheads. Glycolic acid can offer the skin many benefits. In particular, oily skin prone to impurities can benefit from the positive effects.


Benefits for the skin:

  • smoother complexion
  • fresher complexion
  • impurities are reduced
  • refined pores
  • more even skin tone
  • counteracts signs of premature aging


AHA and BHA: The Difference 

In addition to fruit acids (AHA), there is also salicylic acid (BHA). While AHAs like glycolic acid work on the surface of the skin, salicylic acid can penetrate deeper layers of the skin. It is very suitable for oily skin that is prone to blemishes. Even if you are prone to rosacea, psoriasis or chafed skin, care with salicylic acid can help.

In skincare products you will often find a salicylic acid concentration of 0.5 to 2%. Try getting a certified organic facial tonic with salicylic acid. Its exfoliating action frees dead skin cells and evens the complexion. In addition, plant extracts and organic essential oils revitalize and soften the skin.

You can also get a salicylic acid and glycolic acid serum as an effective active ingredient complex. Some of the products we've recommended below combine glycolic and salicylic acid together. These serums are especially suitable for the care of acne-prone and blemish-prone skin. They work to reduce impurities and specifically counteract the formation of new pimples and blackheads. As an added bonus, fine lines and wrinkles are reduced when you combine these chemical exfoliants with collagen boosting ingredients like vitamin C. 


It depends on the concentration


The effect of glycolic acid depends primarily on the concentration. You should always adjust this to your skin type and skin condition. A concentration below 4% glycolic acid has a low exfoliating effect and is particularly gentle. For an evening application with a visible effect, it is best to use a glycolic acid concentration of between 4 and 10%. In this way, you can specifically combat the signs of skin aging. A glycolic acid concentration of up to 20% requires a pre-treatment of the skin and a recommendation by a dermatologist. As a rule, this concentration is only used by a professional skincare expert.


Does glycolic acid have side effects? 


Like any peel, glycolic acid can cause skin irritation. The right glycolic acid concentration is crucial! If you notice that your skin is irritated after using the active ingredient, it is better to reach for a product with a lower glycolic acid concentration. Sometimes it is also possible that the skin reacts sensitively to certain substances in general. In this case, it is best to find a gentle alternative. Ask your pharmacy or dermatologist for advice. $$$

Best 6 Glycolic Acid Products

#1 Paula's Choice SKIN PERFECTING 8%AHA Gel Exfoliant with Glycolic Acid

What's Inside:

Green Tea: antioxidant; anti-aging

Chamomile: antioxidant; anti-inflammatory; soothing 

Aloe Vera: humectant; moisturizing; calming


Why You'll Love It:

Paula's Choice Skin Perfecting 8% AHA Gel Exfoliant effectively exfoliates the skin to improve the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles, uneven skin tone, and rough texture. The 8% concentration of glycolic acid is potent enough to provide noticeable benefits, yet gentle enough for most skin types. Additionally, the gel formula is easy to apply and absorbs quickly, making it a popular choice for those looking for a convenient and effective exfoliating product.

#2 Advanced Clinicals 10% Glycolic Acid Peel Serum

What's Inside:

Pyrus Malus (Apple) Fruit Extract: antioxidant; skin smoothing 

Glycerin: humectant; moisturizing

Salicylic Acid: beta hydroxy acid; exfoliating; penetrates deep into pores


Why You'll Love It:

Advanced Clinicals 10% Glycolic Acid Peel Serum delivers powerful exfoliating benefits with its 10% concentration. The serum formula is easy to apply and absorbs quickly, making it a popular choice for those looking for a convenient and effective exfoliating product. Many people also appreciate the affordability of this product compared to other high-end, professional-strength glycolic acid peels. 

#3 Dr. Dennis Gross Beta Universal Daily Peel Alpha

What's Inside:

5 Alpha Beta® acids: exfoliating; toning, smoothing

Chamomile: antioxidant; anti-inflammatory; soothing

Salicylic Acid: beta hydroxy acid; exfoliating; penetrates deep into pores


Why You'll Love It:

The Dr. Dennis Gross Alpha Beta Universal Daily Peel is beloved for its ease of use and quick, visible results for improvement in skin texture, one and reduction of fine lines. It also has convenient packaging. The product comes in pre-soaked, individually packaged pads, making it convenient for travel and everyday use. 


#4 IT Cosmetics Bye Bye Pores 10% Glycolic Acid Serum

What's Inside:

Hyaluronic Acid: humectant; hydrating; plumping

Aloe Vera: humectant; moisturizing; calming


Why You'll Love It:

This product has a pore-minimizing effect, leaving skin looking smooth and flawless. It's versatile and can be used as a primer under makeup or as a standalone product for a flawless, matte finish. And it's hydrating! The formula contains hydrating ingredients that nourish and moisturize the skin, making it look healthy and radiant.


#5 La Roch Posay Glycolic Acid Serum

What's Inside:

Kojic Acid: naturarlly derived (mushrooms); reduces discoloration

Panthenol: vitamin B5; moisturizing; soothing

Thermal Spring Water: soothing; antioxidant 


Why You'll Love It:

There's several reasons you'll love this La Roche-Posay glycolic acid product: 

  1. Effective exfoliation: The glycolic acid in the formula effectively exfoliates the skin, leaving it looking smoother and brighter.
  2. Hydrating: The formula also contains hyaluronic acid, which is known for its ability to hydrate the skin, making it look plumper and more youthful.
  3. Gentle: Despite its potency, the formula is gentle and suitable for sensitive skin.
  4. Convenient: The product comes in a lightweight, easily absorbed serum form that can be used daily, making it a convenient addition to any skincare routine.
  5. Reputable brand: La Roche-Posay is a well-respected skincare brand with a strong reputation for producing high-quality, effective products. 

#6 Drunk Elephant TLC Framboos Glycolic Night Serum

What's Inside:

T.L.C. Framboos™ AHA blend: Glycolic plus tartaric (T), lactic (L), and citric (C) acids; exfoliating; resurfacing; smoothing; brightening 

Raspberry Fruit Extract: antioxidant; rehydrating; soothing 

Cactus Extract: soothing, calming, protects from sensitivity caused by AHA use


Why You'll Love It:

As a night serum, this resurfacing serum with glycolic acid pairs perfectly with using vitamin C acne treatment products in the morning. It's a powerful blend of exfoliating acids, both AHAs and BHAs to reveal fresh, glowing skin each morning. The added calming ingredients ensure your skin stays hydrated and soothed to avoid irritation. 

What is vitamin C and how does it affect the skin?


Vitamin C can also make your complexion glow and give you a brighter complexion! Vitamin C is a natural antioxidant found primarily in citrus fruits. Ingested through food, it protects the immune system and regulates many metabolic processes in the body. Vitamin C is also an indispensable ingredient in skincare. In serums, creams, lotions, and ampoules, vitamin C enriches daily skincare and, when used regularly, helps to give the skin a more youthful, clear appearance. However, the light-sensitive vitamin should always be used in conjunction with UV protection.


Vitamin C benefits:

  • smoothes lines and wrinkles
  • counteracts pigmentation spots
  • protects the skin from free radicals
  • boosts the skin's collagen production
  • reduces impurities
  • refines the complexion
  • suitable for an organic skin care routine


With all the benefits, it's no wonder that vitamin C for the skin also plays a significant role in anti-aging skin care. However, this does not mean that you should not use vitamin C at a young age. The earlier you provide your skin with precious active ingredients, the longer your skin will remain beautiful even in old age.


Mixing glycolic acid and vitamin C together for the skin


Glycolic acid toners with vitamin C are true all-rounders when it comes to skin care. They make your skin's surface look fresher overall, reduce the signs of aging and protect it from external influences. These are plenty of reasons to incorporate vitamin C and glycolic acid into your daily skincare routine. It protects your skin from photoaging and free radicals. Fine lines and wrinkles are reduced and the complexion gains radiance.


A routine that involves combining glycolic acid and vitamin C protects the skin against wrinkles and free radicals. It is also effective against dry skin, dead skin cells, and skin impurities. This makes glycolic acid and vitamin C one of the best acne treatments you can choose. 


In conclusion


Now you know that you can use glycolic acid and Vitamin C together in your skin care routine. Try it out for yourself on any skin type and convince yourself of the positive effect of these extraordinary active ingredients. In any case, give your skin some time to get used to the new, efficient skin care. Your wait will soon be rewarded!