Because glycolic acid makes skin more sensitive to UV rays, only use glyoclic acid products at night and always apply sunscreen the next day. If you have sensitive skin, a gentler alternative is lactic acid. Overall, glycolic acid is considered the golden standard of AHAs, and fun fact, it's dervied from sugar cane.
Those with dry or sensitive skin types may find glycolic acid is too irritating for their skin. In addition to these concerns, some people find they're more sensitive to sun when they use glycolic acid. Using a daily sunscreen can help reduce sun exposure risks.
Use ideally in the PM, no more frequently than once per day. After cleaning, saturate a cotton pad with the formula and sweep across the face and neck. Avoid the eye contour and contact with eyes. This formula should not be used on sensitive, peeling or compromised skin.
Lactic acid is an AHA that is especially good for people with sensitive skin. “Lactic acid is the most hydrating of all the acids, so oftentimes it's used for sensitive skin that has kind of a more delicate skin barrier and therefore needs more hydration in the skin,” Rouleau said.
It is OK to use 1-2% containing glycolic acid face wash or ointments daily. The creams have a higher glycolic acid content (10% and above) and must only be used once or twice a week to avoid skin irritation. The creams with a concentration above 15% may need to be kept only for a few minutes and then wiped off.
Follow Up With...
Apply moisturizer after your glycolic acid product. Remember to always apply moisturizer twice a day (morning and evening) to protect and hydrate your newly exfoliated skin. Keeping your skin hydrated will also prevent any potential redness or irritation from your glycolic acid product.
“When used topically, niacinamide can improve skin hydration by preventing evaporation of moisture from the skin into the environment. It's also a natural anti-inflammatory ingredient, so it's great for calming irritated skin but also good for people with sensitive skin,” says Nazarian.
Most people feel a burning sensation for about 5-10 minutes after the glycolic acid is applied, followed by some stinging. This can be helped by using a cool compress and taking pain-relief medicine, such as ibuprofen.
You should decide between using glycolic acid as a wash or as a toner every day, because they both have lower concentrations that are meant for daily use, then add a glycolic acid mask weekly. This will give you the full benefits of the acid while being safe for your skin.
Even though niacinamide and glycolic acid are both natural and have similar benefits, it is not advisable to use them together because of their pH levels. While niacinamide has a much higher pH level than glycolic acid, it won't get completely absorbed into the skin.
Vitamin C is generally pretty safe and well tolerated, but if you have sensitive skin, it might sting a little bit—especially if you use it in the same part of your routine as exfoliating scrubs or acids.
You're prone to breakouts
If you have sensitive skin, you may develop breakouts that look like acne with red bumps and pustules. You may find that an acne wash or cream to treat the breakouts only worsens your symptoms.
Causes of sensitive skin reactions include: Skin disorders or allergic skin reactions such as eczema, rosacea, or allergic contact dermatitis. Overly dry or injured skin that can no longer protect nerve endings, leading to skin reactions.
Because glycolic acid can work deeper into the skin layer, it's generally recommended for uneven skin texture. In which case, if you have acne scars and wrinkles, glycolic acid is for you. On the other hand, lactic acid is a gentler exfoliant that's suitable for dry to sensitive skin types.
Yes, you absolutely can use hyaluronic acid and glycolic acid together in the same skincare routine! In fact, this combination may boost collagen production and reduce the irritation potential of glycolic acid.
Glycolic acid is an effective exfoliant, meaning it can remove dead skin cells. It's well suited to reducing hyperpigmentation, fine lines, and uneven skin tone. If you have acne-prone skin, salicylic acid is usually a better option. It can get rid of excess sebum and prevent or treat acne.
One ingredient that can be layered with glycolic acid with no worry of irritation is hyaluronic acid as this humectant can instantly hydrate the skin and aid replenishment, this is an ideal teammate for glycolic acid as it avoids any chances of the skin feeling tight, dry or irritated.
As for whether you should apply glycolic acid morning or night, we recommend applying it as part of your evening skincare routine. Glycolic acid can cause “photosensitivity,” which means it makes your skin more sensitive to the sun's UV rays, upping your chances of a sunburn or skin damage.
Glycolic Acid helps soften the look of fine lines, wrinkles, and discoloration to keep the under-eye area smooth and even.