The Best At-Home Glycolic Acid Peels: Treatment for Acne, acne scars, post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation, dull skin texture, fine lines, sun damage, melasma.
Can you imagine instant, baby-smooth skin without breaking the bank?
Glycolic acid peels are amongst the most popular type of chemical peels used by dermatologists worldwide that is easy to replicate at home.
This it is a simple and inexpensive procedure that addresses a host of skincare issues like mild to moderate inflamed acne, acne scars, post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (acne spots), melasma, dull skin texture, and sun damage among a host of others.
Another great advantage of glycolic peels is there is virtually no downtime, unlike other types of chemical peels. It also has keratolytic, anti-inflammatory, and anti-oxidant effects.
Glycolic acid has the smallest molecular weight amongst AHAs which makes for easy penetration to the skin. Products are available in varying concentrations and used depending on the skin type and tolerance.
The higher the concentration and lower the pH, the deeper and more intense the peel.
The depth of chemical peels depend on the concentration, number of coats, and length of time it stays on the skin before it’s neutralized. This is why AHA peels can be used for superficial and medium depth peels.
As a guide, the % and classification of glycolic peeling are:
Very superficial – 10-50%, 1-2 minutes
Superficial – 50-70%, 2-5 minutes
Medium depth – 70%, 3-15 minutes
Always make sure to follow the enclosed instructions in the product to avoid accidents (it’s still an acid after all!)
A combination of treatments with best glycolic acid peels can also be done for faster and improved results. For instance, if you’re looking to get rid of acne scarring, you can use glycolic peels in combination with microdermabrasion.
- 1 Editor’s Choice: The Best At-Home Glycolic Acid Peels
- 1.1 Glycolix Elite 10% Glycolic Acid Treatment Pads, 60 Count
- 1.2 Glycolic Acid 30% Gel Peel - Enhanced with Retinol and Green Tea Extract (Professional Chemical Peel)
- 1.3 Glycolic Acid 50% Gel Peel - Enhanced with Retinol & Green Tea Extract (Professional Skin Peel)
- 1.4 Glycolic Acid 70% (Professional Chemical Peel ) 100% Pure-Highest Quality Dermal Hydration
- 1.5 Planet Eden 70% Glycolic Acid Chemical Skin Peel Kit + Glycolic Acid Pre-Peel Cleanser + Antioxidant Recovery Cream + Treatment Fan Brush
- 1.6 The Best Glycolic Acid Peel Kits
- 1.7 Retexturizing Chemical Glycolic Facial Skin Peel Kit
- 1.8 Vivite Glycolic Chemical Facial Peel Kit: Glycolic Chemical Facial Peel Gel 250ml + Skin Cleansing & Prepping Solution 250m
Glycolic Acid Peels: How to Use at Home
Chemical peels vary in type and strength.
When choosing which product to choose, there are several things you should keep into account:
- Your skin sensitivity or tolerance to acids – This will determine what % or concentration you should choose. Glycolic peels are generally safe for all skin types with oily skin being the most resistant of all. Some people also have built resistance by having various forms of acids already in their skincare regimen. If you’re new to peeling, it’s best to start with the lowest concentration possible so you can avoid skin irritations. You can patch test a product before going all out as a precaution if you have sensitive skin. The list below is in ascending order or lowest % to highest % for easier assessment.
- Check your skin for scaly patches, any open sores, or lesions – Glycolic acid or tretinoin creams can exacerbate these issues. You’ll need to be well healed before performing any type of chemical peel.
- What skin problems you’re looking to address (dull skin, pigmentation, etc.) – This will determine the necessary depth and frequency of treatments. Repeat the peeling session every 15 days for 4-6 months until desired results. If you’re looking to correct imperfections that are deeper in the skin like melasma or acne scars, a series of medium to deep peels would be very beneficial. Alternatively, you can undergo a more thorough program like The Skin Lightening Report. It’s a regimen that can be modified based on your current skin condition and how your skin reacts. This ensures that you can achieve maximum lightening with minimum skin irritation.
- You can prime your skin for increased peel efficacy – Using retinol or retinoids and skincare products with Vitamin C or hydroquinone before the peel can improve results and reduce the risk of hyperpigmentation (discoloration).
- Understand the proper procedures – Using the right acid concentration, knowing the peel timing, performing pre-peel priming, neutralization, and having the proper peeling equipment will ensure great results and no potential side effects.The video below demonstrates the that proper clinical procedure in implementing glycolic acid peels. Make sure to watch and understand, as well as read the instructions that comes with the product you purchase.
Video: DermTV – In-Office Lunchtime Glycolic Peel Demo Dr. Schultz
Basic Application Method:
- Clean and degrease the skin with a gentle cleanser
- Protect the eyes, corner of the lips and nose with Vaseline
- Apply glycolic acid solution using a cotton bud or a fan brush (e.g. Fan Brush Taklon 7.75″) following the video
- Have your neutralizing agent (e.g. Planet Eden Organic Botanical Skin Chemical Peel Neutralizer) ready for application after the time limit
- Use soothing gels like aloe vera, hyaluronic serums, gentle moisturizers, or hydrocortisone
If there is frosting at any time before the set time limit, neutralize the skin immediately.
Always start with the lowest concentration and work your way up once your skin has acclimated to the % concentration.
Our recommendations for the best at-home glycolic acid peels are based on our comprehensive analysis of the product’s formulation, claims, value for money, and consumer reviews. We make an effort to be as objective as possible and give advice in good faith; however, our reviews may still contain conjectures and opinions based on our research and personal experiences.
It’s important to know that as with any product (especially cosmetics), what may be perfect for you may not be right for the next person. So as much as we want to guarantee that these will be everyone’s next holy grail, results can still be affected by individual factors like your current skin condition, the environment you’re in, use of the product, reaction to your other skincare, and so on. For best results, make sure to choose a product that is suited for your skin type and skin issues.
This website is for informational purposes and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.
Product or service details are collected directly from the manufacturer and other reputable sources during the time of this review, and cited in the Resources section. We try to keep on top of new formulations when we can, and update our data accordingly.
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Editor’s Choice: The Best At-Home Glycolic Acid Peels
We’ve chosen the best glycolic acid peels at home for every available % concentration based on our analysis, experience, specifications, value for money, and consumer reviews.
The list goes up in concentration as it goes on. If this is your first time incorporating acids in your regime, it’s best to start with a low percentage and work your way up.
Best for: All skin types
Treatment for: Acne, acne scars, post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation, dull skin texture, fine lines, sun damage, melasma
The Best Glycolic Acid Peel Kits
When you buy your first bottle of chemical peeling agent, you’ll need to purchase other tools as well, like a brush applicator and a neutralizing agent among others.
You can save yourself the trouble and reduce any chances of buying the wrong one by getting a complete set instead.
Sharad, J. (2013). Glycolic acid peel therapy – a current review. Clinical, Cosmetic and Investigational Dermatology, p.281.
Alam, M. (2003). Glycolic Acid Peels. Archives of Dermatology, 139(9).
Richards, S. (2008). Textbook OF Chemical Peels: Superficial, Medium and Deep Peels in Cosmetic Practice. Australasian Journal of Dermatology, 49(1), pp.63-64.
Perić, S. (2012). Effects of Local Usage of Glycolic Acid in the Treatment of Acne. 1st ed. Saarbrücken: LAP LAMBERT Academic Publishing.