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The Skin-Transforming Ingredient You're About To See Everywhere

Say hello to smoother, brighter, and younger-looking skin

Still not quite figured out how to get that supermodel glow? It’s time you checked out glycolic acid...

As scary as it might sound, there's nothing like the exfoliating, glow-giving benefits of using Glycolic acid in your skincare routine. Known for fighting acne, wrinkles, dullness, and clogged pores, this one ingredient packs a power punch against all your skincare woes.

For the uninitiated, glycolic acid belongs to the alpha hydroxy acid family (AHAs), a group of exfoliating chemical compounds that are derivatives of natural things like sugar cane and fruit.

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Glycolic acid has the smallest molecules of the family so works extremely well as a chemical exfoliant as it can easily penetrate the skin. When we have a dull, uneven complexion it is normally due to the top layer of the skin dying and gradually wearing away. What glycolic acid does is break down the bonds that hold these dead skin cells together and reveals healthy, fresh skin.

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In an effort to get educated (and, of course, live your best glowy life), keep scrolling for all you need to know about what Glycolic Acid is, how it works and who it’s best suited for. Plus, the best Glycolic acid-rich products to load up on for glowing, healthy skin.

what is GLYCOLIC acid? 

Glycolic acid is an AHA, which is short for alpha-hydroxy acid (the name refers to its chemical makeup). Products featuring this active ingredient come in many different forms: cleansers, serums, moisturizers, eye creams, toners and facial peels, to name a few.

Now for the science-y bit: glycolic acid has a small molecular structure, giving it the ability to travel deep into the layers of the skin. Once there, the acid dissolves excess sebum and dead skin cells, revealing smoother, brighter, and younger-looking skin.

It differs from other acids, like lactic acid or hyaluronic due to the fact that it is derived from natural ingredients like sugar canes and certain fruits.

what doeS glycolic acid do?

First and foremost, glycolic acid is an exfoliant. It helps shed dead skin cells and reveal the newer, brighter layers underneath by acting on the stratum corneum (the outermost layer of skin). Glycolic acid has the ability to dissolve the rough layers of dead skin cells.

But because glycolic acid is so small, it can get deeper into your skin too, where it does some serious work. Glycolic acid also holds the ability to stimulate collagen production, it helps skin feel firmer and minimizes fine lines and wrinkles. Between the exfoliation and the production of collagen, your skin will feel smoother and look more radiant and even-toned.

who is glycolic ACID suitable for?

Basically, if you're a human being you can probably benefit from Glycolic acid. The ingredient specifically treats wrinkles, hyper-pigmentation, and acne-prone skin, so if one or more of these is a skincare concern of yours, it's worthy of your beauty bag. 

how do i use GLYCOLIC ACID? 

As with any exfoliant, it's best to start small if you have sensitive skin or are prone to irritation. For this reason, we recommend using it in a toner because it's easy to use and gentle on the skin. Glycolic Acid toners leave your skin brighter and fresher looking as they slough off pore-blocking dead skin cells from the surface.

When do i apply GLYCOLIC ACID? 

It's simple: You wash your face at night with a gentle cleanser, apply one your glycolic acid toner of choice with a cotton pad, then follow up with your favourite serum and moisturiser. However, if you do choose to use one in the morning rather than at night time, remember to always follow up with a high SPF, as the freshly-revealed skin underneath will be especially sensitive.


In short, everywhere. But to help you on your quest for glowy, healthy skin, we've rounded up the absolute best glycolic acid toners, all of which are prepared to brighten, exfoliate, and plump the skin.

Pixi Glow Tonic, €23.50, Available at Boots

The Inkey List Glycolic Acid 10% Liquid Toner, €9.99, Available at Arnotts

Clarifying Toning Lotion, €22, REN Clean Skincare

Glycolic Acid Toner, €19.50, MARIO BADESCU


Glycolic Acid 7% Toning Solution, €8.75, The Ordinary

Main image by @brimarqz on Instagram

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