Today, I’m going to discuss the best glycolic acid creams on the market (spoiler: my top pick is SkinCeuticals Glycolic 10 Renew Overnight).
These skincare products – from creams to lotions to sleeping masks – all feature the star ingredient Glycolic Acid, the smallest and most popular type of alpha hydroxy acid (AHA).
AHAs like glycolic acid help remove dead skin cells, increase cell turnover, improve skin hydration, remove blemishes and dark spots, correct uneven skin tone, and fight common signs of aging like wrinkles, fine lines, and sun damage (source: A Practical Approach to Chemical Peels, 2018).
In other words, AHAs like glycolic acid should be included in everyone’s skincare regimen! ????
ⓘ Let’s help you find the right glycolic acid cream for your skin concern and budget!
What Are The Best Glycolic Acid Creams?
Here are the best glycolic acid creams:
- Best Overall Cream: SkinCeuticals Glycolic 10 Renew Overnight
- Best Budget Cream: Glycolix Elite 20% Glycolic Acid Facial Cream
- Best Day Cream: Philosophy Renewed Hope In A Jar
- Best Night Cream: Caudalie Brightening Glycolic Night Cream
- Best Moisturizer: Kate Somerville ExfoliKate Glow Moisturizer
- Best for Smoother Skin: GLAMGLOW Good In Bed Passionfruit Softening Night Cream
- Best for Deep Hydration: Glow Recipe Watermelon Glow Sleeping Mask
- Best for Keratosis Pilaris: Glytone Exfoliating Body Lotion
- Best for Wrinkles & Fine Lines: Glytone Rejuvenating Cream 20
- Best for Men: Jack Black Line Smoother Oil-Free Moisturizer
What To Look For In A Glycolic Acid Cream
Here are my top tips for finding an effective glycolic acid cream:
- Free Acid Value: the percentage of glycolic acid on the label is oftentimes misleading, since glycolic acid dissociates (“splits”) into a Free Acid Form and Ionized Form in aqueous solutions. This is problematic because only the Free Acid Form can actually penetrate your skin barrier. That’s why the “true concentration” of glycolic acid is more accurately represented by the Free Acid Value (the actual percentage of free acids in a solution).
- Sun Protection: make sure to use a broad-spectrum sunscreen with SPF 30+ and wear a sunhat and sunglasses when using a glycolic acid product. That’s because glycolic acid increases the risk of sunburn and skin cancer from prolonged sun exposure. In particular, glycolic acid removes dead skin cells that contain special pigments called melanin which protect your skin from the Sun’s ultraviolet radiation (kinda like little umbrellas ☂️).
The 10 Best Glycolic Acid Creams in 2020
1. Best Overall Cream: SkinCeuticals Glycolic 10 Renew Overnight (1.7 oz)
SkinCeuticals is a brand that I always recommend to my readers because of the company’s commitment to science-based skincare and history of product innovation (for example, they almost single-handedly created the “vitamin C serum” category with their award-winning and patent-protected bestselling vitamin C serum, the SkinCeuticals C E Ferulic).
The Glycolic 10 Renewal Overnight is another one of the company’s innovative products supported by both medical research and clinical trials (a single-center, 8-week study on 50 women).
This glycolic lotion features 10% Glycolic Acid (Free Acid Value), 2% Phytic Acid, and a 1% Soothing Complex of natural oils and botanical extracts, including Jojoba Oil and Sunflower Seed Oil.
These ingredients work together to help remove dead skin cells, promote a healthier and more radiant complexion, and reduce the appearance of discoloration and uneven skin tone.
Well, the reason is that glycolic acid, like all acids, dissociates (“splits”) in water-based solutions into two separate molecules: a Free Acid Form (no charge) and an Ionized Form (negative charge).
Here’s an excellent illustration by LabMuffin of this chemical reaction (and she has a great article that explains the importance of free acid value in relation to a formula’s pH level).
In this diagram, the free acid form of glycolic acid is on the left side while the dissociated products, namely a hydrogen ion (+) and conjugate base (-), are on the right side:
- We are primarily interested in the left side of this equation because the free acid form is the one that can actually penetrate our (oily) skin barrier thanks to its high oil-solubility. ????
- In contrast, the ionized form does not penetrate our skin barrier very well due to its polarity (negative charge), which means it’s very water-soluble but not very oil-soluble. ????
Most glycolic acid products on the market only disclose the overall concentration, even though a significant portion actually dissociates into an ionized form (which isn’t very useful for your skin).
That’s why the “true concentration” of glycolic acid is indicated by the Free Acid Value as this only counts the free acid forms of glycolic acid as a percentage of the total solution.
SkinCeuticals Glycolic 10 Renew Overnight has a free acid value of 10% glycolic acid at a pH of 3.5, which is the equivalent of about 14.75% glycolic acid when expressed as an overall concentration (source of calculation: LabMuffin Free Acid Value Calculator).
Finally, the last part of this puzzle is the pH level (potential for hydrogen). pH expresses the concentration of hydrogen ions in a solution in an inverse and logarithmic manner:
- pH = -log (Concentration of Hydrogen Ions)
For example, suppose we had a solution with 1% hydrogen ions:
- Then, the pH = -log (0.01), which is pH = 2 (very acidic)
But now, suppose we had a solution with 0.0000000001% hydrogen ions:
- Then, the pH = -log (0.000000000001), which is pH = 14 (very basic)
The pH level is important because it directly impacts the concentration of free acids in equilibrium:
- At low pH levels, there’s a high concentration of hydrogen ions which means the H+ ions will “bump” into more conjugate bases and form more free acids. ????
- At high pH levels, there’s a low concentration of hydrogen ions and the opposite occurs. The H+ ions “bump” into fewer conjugate bases and form fewer free acids. ????
However, we also don’t want a really low pH either as this would cause irritation and sensitivity.
When the pH is around the pKa, the formula remains stable (i.e. in equilibrium) and the free acid effectiveness is maximized while potential side effects are minimized (source: The Ordinary).
The pH of Glycolic 10 Renew Overnight is 3.5 which is a suitable level for acid effectiveness. ????
In terms of additional ingredients, 2% Phytic Acid helps exfoliate and brighten your skin while a 1% Soothing Complex of natural oils and botanical extracts seals in hydration and reduces irritation.
SkinCeuticals cites the following clinical results from an 8-week study on 50 women (ages 35-64):
- 36% average improvement in radiance
- 37% average improvement in skin texture
- 19% average improvement in skin tone
These results were collected through light imaging analysis at baseline and weeks 2, 4, 6, and 8.
My main critique of this study is that it did not compare the efficacy of Glycolic 10 Renew Overnight to another product, such as a generic AHA cream or placebo cream.
This would allow for a better analysis of how much Glycolic 10 Renew Overnight actually made a difference, since some skin problems, like hyperpigmentation, tend to resolve on its own over time.
- Many said their skin felt smoother, more hydrated, and less pigmented
- Some noticed improvements in skin brightness, pore sizes, smile lines, and dry patches
- Some switched to Glycolic 10 Renew Overnight from retinol and had no issues with it
- Almost all said this product did not cause any skin irritation, even those with sensitive skin
On the other hand, the most common complaint was the product packaging as the glycolic lotion can easily drip out of the tube. For this reason, I recommend transferring it to a pump bottle instead.
My Verdict: Not all glycolic acid products are created equal. The percentage on the label doesn’t always reflect the “true concentration” of glycolic acid due to its dissociation into an ionized form. SkinCeuticals Glycolic 10 Renew Overnight features true 10% Glycolic Acid (Free Acid Value) to help exfoliate and hydrate your skin for a brighter, clearer, and smoother complexion. ????
2. Best Budget Cream: Glycolix Elite 20% Glycolic Acid Facial Cream (1.6 oz)
For a more affordable glycolic cream, I recommend the Glycolix Elite 20% Glycolic Acid Facial Cream which is frequently under $30 on Amazon (but watch out for unscrupulous third-party sellers as I’ve seen many reviews complain about “knock-off” versions) or about $45 on Dermstore.
By now, you should know that the percentage on the label does not reflect the true bioavailability of glycolic acid, due to its dissociation in water into an ionized form that cannot penetrate your skin (see my earlier explanation under SkinCeuticals Glycolic 10 Renew Overnight).
Since Glycolix Elite does not mention the term “free acid value” anywhere, we can assume this product contains an overall concentration of 20% glycolic acid. To calculate the free acid value equivalent, I again used LabMuffin’s calculator along with the pH of this product (4.0) to arrive at an 8% Free Acid Value (source: Topix Pharmaceuticals and LabMuffin Free Acid Value Calculator).
While lower than SkinCeuticals Glycolic 10 Renew Overnight (10%), it’s still a very high concentration of free acid that can provide “significant increase in cellular turnover” (i.e. exfoliation) in addition to increasing skin hydration and skin smoothness (source: Glytone).
At 8% free acid value, Glycolix Elite Facial Cream can help improve many skin conditions, including:
- Hyperpigmentation, Discoloration, and Uneven Tone
- Wrinkles, Fine Lines, Crow’s Feet, and Sun Spots
- Dark Spots, Acne Marks, and Old Scars
In addition, this product has a very simple ingredient list (which I absolutely love ????):
- Glycolic Acid (hydration, exfoliation)
- Vitamin A (antioxidant, exfoliation)
- Vitamin C (antioxidant, brightener)
- Vitamin E (antioxidant, hydration)
- CoQ10 (antioxidant, anti-aging)
- Green Tea Extract (antioxidant, soothing)
- Squalane (lipid, hydration)
Glycolix Elite also confirms this product is paraben-, gluten-, oil-, and fragrance-free.
Finally, here’s what some customers are saying about Glycolix Elite Facial Cream:
- “My skin is clearer, brighter and less oily… It also helps to keep the fine lines at bay.”
- “This is a great price for glycolic acid. And come to find out, my dermatologist’s office sells this exact one, so if they stand behind it, then I feel like it must be a good product.”
- “Upon my first application I felt my skin tingling and turn pinkish “good sign” but when I woke my skin was glowing!!! A little goes a long, long way and my pores have diminished, my skin looks polished and at “60” I go without make-up and my skin is beautiful.”
- “I have really liked this product. It seems to keep my skin acne free and clear of the little bumps that never seem to go away. It can dry out your skin so I sometimes have to skip a time of using it or sometimes I put moisturizer on over it.”
- “Fantastic product. Rich, creamy and full of wonderful skin enhancing ingredients. Left my skin looking moist and brighter. Does tingle a bit upon application, so work your way up to the 20%.”
On the other hand, the more negative reviews tended to focus on fraudulent products:
- “‘I’ve used this product and I love this product but my jar came broken, seal was tampered with and there’s dry residue on the edges of the jar. Seems like it had been previously used and returned.”
- “This product arrived in authentic packaging, however, it was not sealed and the product was NOT 20% glycolic moisturizer. I know what glycolic moisturizer feels like on my skin and I doubt there was any glycolic in the product I received. Returned immediately and will not reorder. I would give 0 stars if possible. Buyer Beware, FAKE!”
- “This product irritated my skin and made me break out after only 2 uses. My skin had a burning sensation and looked raw and red. Luckily Amazon let me return the product and I got my money back.”
My Verdict: If you’re looking for a budget-friendly glycolic cream, the Glycolix Elite Facial Cream features a powerful concentration of 20% glycolic acid (8% free acid value) and antioxidant complex to clear away sluggish dead skin cells for softer, smoother, and younger-looking skin. ????
3. Best Day Cream: Philosophy Renewed Hope In A Jar (2.0 oz)
If you’re spending more time outdoors these days (in the garden, backyard, or mountain trails), make sure to use a moisturizer with broad-spectrum SPF to protect your skin from UVA/UVB radiation which are harmful over prolonged periods of exposure (source: Skin Cancer Foundation).
Philosophy offers an excellent day cream, the renewed hope in a jar, with SPF 30 sun protection (unfortunately, it’s a chemical sunscreen with avobenzone, octinoxate, and octocrylene; those with sensitive skin should consider a physical sunscreen like Josie Maran Argan Daily Moisturizer SPF 47 with zinc oxide and titanium dioxide that will be less likely to irritate your skin).
The renewed hope in a jar with SPF 30 (I’ll call this the “philosophy cream”) claims to “retexturize skin and deliver continuous hydration” as well as “brighten and re-energize the skin” with a blend of alpha hydroxy acids (Glycolic Acid, Citric Acid, Mandelic Acid) and Hyaluronic Acids.
The concentration of each alpha hydroxy acid is not disclosed, however, Beautypedia estimates it’s around 3-5% glycolic acid and less than 1% citric acid and mandelic acid (source: Beautypedia).
That means the philosophy cream might improve skin hydration and skin smoothness, but will not address any significant issues like hyperpigmentation, wrinkles & fine lines, or acne scars.
Moreover, the product has a very complicated ingredient list (46 in total), including silicones (cyclopentasiloxane and cyclohexasiloxane), fragrances, and viscosity adjusters (butylene glycol, disodium EDTA, synthetic fluorphlogopite, magnesium stearate, hexylene glycol). In addition, Hyaluronic Acid and Sodium Hyaluronate are both listed at the very bottom of this list. ????
Some of the more positive reviews include:
- “This is my 3rd jar of renewed hope. I absolutely love it. Most days, after my vitamin c serum, it is my only other face treatment. I’m outside a lot, especially now in the pandemic. This is a wonderful hydrating moisturizer with the added bonus of a sunscreen, which works great also! It is my most valued skin product.”
- “I have used this product for the past 2 years and I refuse to change this out in my daily routine. I have extremely dry skin and this product has helped rejuvenate my skin with a dewy look! The bright side is there is SPF!!”
- “This is my favorite moisturizer! It leaves my skin super soft and not greasy. It is a thick consistency, but it really melts into my skin after a couple minutes. It’s even better because it has SPF. A must have for me.”
- “I remain impressed with this product after using it for over a decade. My skin does not react well to many moisturizers and this product has never given me any problems at all!”
On the other hand, here are some of the more critical reviews:
- “If you have thin, sensitive combination skin, this moisturizer is not for you. Especially if you are planning to wear it under make up. It is sticky and doesn’t absorb. Not telling that you cannot put a make up over it. It is basically a regular SPF sunscreen in a very small amount and at a very high price.”
- “I was so excited to get this product as I’ve used a few other philosophy items and have loved them. But within 2 days of using this my face was broken out in a weird itchy red mess that took another 2 days to go away :(“
- “The original Renewed Hope in a Jar is FABULOUS! It’s my absolute favorite. This formula with SPF is horrible!! It breaks me out and makes my skin feel greasy and oily all day, even after setting it with powder. This is going back to the store.”
My Verdict: The philosophy renewed hope in a jar is a bestselling moisturizer that now comes with broad-spectrum SPF 30 for a “refreshing and refining” experience during the day. ????
4. Best Night Cream: Caudalie Brightening Glycolic Night Cream (1.7 oz)
If you’re a fan of the bestselling Caudalie Vinoperfect Radiance Serum, you’re going to absolutely love the Caudalie Vinoperfect Brightening Glycolic Night Cream as well. ❤️
This luxurious cream features Glycolic Acid and Papaya Extract for gentle exfoliation and renewal, while the brand’s patent-protected Viniferine (a.k.a. ε-viniferin or grapevine sap extract) helps brighten dark spots and correct uneven skin tone (source: Caudalie and Google Patents).
ε-viniferin is a promising skincare ingredient discovered by Professor Joseph Vercauteren at the University of Montpellier in France. His extensive research into grape extracts and collaboration with Mathilde and Bertrand Thomas led to the creation of Caudalie in 1993. ????
Caudalie claims that ε-viniferin is 62 times more effective than traditional vitamin C for clearing up dark spots and for skin brightening purposes (source: Caudalie).
However, this claim requires further context and clarification. ????
A 2014 study led by Professor Vercauteren did indeed find that trans-ε-viniferin was 62x more effective than Vitamin C (L-Ascorbic Acid) at inhibiting melanin synthesis in mushroom tyrosinase (source: A Huge PVDF Adsorption Difference Between Resveratrol and ε-Viniferin Allows to Quantitatively Purify Them and to Assess Their Anti-Tyrosinase Property, 2014).
But this doesn’t mean that ε-viniferin is better or worse than conventional brightening ingredients because we simply don’t know how well it performs in real life (i.e. randomized clinical trials).
Nonetheless, it’s a very promising skincare ingredient that, judging by the positive reception of Caudalie products (many of which include Viniferine), is most likely an effective one, too! ????
In terms of skin benefits, the Vinoperfect Brightening Glycolic Night Cream can help you:
- Diminish the appearance of dark spots and blemishes
- Reduce uneven skin tone and increase overall radiance
- Smooth out skin texture and decrease pore sizes
- Hydrate and nourish the skin for a healthy-looking complexion
In terms of clinical results, Caudalie cites the following from a 56-day study with 21 volunteers:
- 100% visible results after the first night (this isn’t much of a statement, just a marketing line; one night is obviously not enough and you have to measure “how much” of a result)
- 90% found their dark spots were corrected (in other words, 19 out of 21 women were “satisfied” with the results after 56 days. This does not mean their dark spots magically vanished!)
Finally, here’s what some users had to say about the Brightening Glycolic Night Cream:
- “I am a licensed esthetician. I was introduced to this product at the salon I am currently working at. I’m absolutely amazed by the results from this night cream. My skin hasn’t been this bright and glowing in years. My skin is very sensitive but you would never know thanks this game changer.”
- “I am amazed by the fact how glowing my skin has been looking since I started using this night cream! It has a nice rich texture and a light scent to it. It never made my skin break out or anything but makes skin feel hydrated. I feel my pigmentation has gone down after using this. I received this for free to try for my honest opinion.”
- “I’ve been using this cream for a little under a month, and I am thrilled with the results. The cream itself seems thick when I first touch it, but goes on so nicely and doesn’t feel heavy on my face. I am so pleased to find a night cream that doesn’t break out my sensitive skin. In the morning my skin felt soft and supple, and as the weeks have gone by, my skin feels softer overall, my complexion has evened out and my skin looks amazing. A little goes a long way so the size of the jar is really not a concern. Also, this cream is filled with wonderful natural ingredients and smells absolutely divine. I can’t wait to try the rest of the products in this line.”
The more critical reviewers either did not notice significant results or did not enjoy the heavy texture of this particular cream. These reviews include:
- “It is an okay product, my skin doesn’t hate it, but I don’t see any changes to my skin, I will not repurchase it because of its price.”
- “I finished this product last night. After months of using it every night I didn’t see any difference in my pigmentations. I bought it together with the Caudalie brightening serum, which I also used until the end. Nothing. Not one bit of brightness. I give it two stars because I liked the texture and didn’t cause breakouts.”
My Verdict: The Caudalie Vinoperfect Brightening Glycolic Night Cream is an excellent addition to a family of grape-inspired products, featuring Glycolic Acid, Viniferine, and Papaya Extract, that helps you diminish dark spots, correct uneven skin tone, and promote a healthy glow. ????
5. Best Moisturizer: Kate Somerville ExfoliKate Glow Moisturizer (1.7 oz)
In my opinion, Kate Somerville makes high-quality products and the ExfoliKate Glow is no exception.
This moisturizer features a “duo of AHAs – Glycolic and Lactic Acids – combined with Pineapple, Pumpkin, and Papaya Enzymes” to remove surface dullness and reveal healthy & glowing skin. ????
Fruit enzymes, such as Bromelain (Pineapple) and Papain (Papaya), have been used for decades in food processing as meat tenderizers and as natural digestive supplements (source: Healthline).
In skincare, however, these enzymes help break down cellular structures to loosen the bonds between dead skin cells and promote healthy exfoliation (similar to AHAs like Glycolic Acid).
The ingredient list is actually pretty long though (43 in total), so if you have sensitive skin, I’d skip this one and go for a simpler formula like the Glycolix Elite 20% Glycolic Acid Facial Cream.
There’s also added fragrance (bergamot oil and orange peel oil) which smells like fruit loops according to many reviewers. Cereal, anyone? ????
In terms of clinical results, Kate Somerville cites an “independent clinical study” but fails to report any basic parameters like study length, number of participants, study design, etc.
This makes it very difficult to even discuss the study’s findings so I won’t include them here this time (if you want, you can find more details on the ExfoliKate Glow product page).
Here are some of the positive reviews for Kate Somerville:
- “I initially had a trial of this product that was large enough to use for a week. I was surprised at how quickly it helped my skin look more radiant and smoothed the texture. It feels great under make up, but does even better when I use it before bed as well. I don’t use a lot of skincare products in general, but this one will remain in my skin care routine because of how much impact I get from regular use. A lot of bang for your buck with this one.”
- “I love this Exfoliate Glow Moisturizer! I love the smell & the feel. It is invigorating! Whenever my skin starts feeling dry, I apply this for soothing & hydrating relief. My skin glows after applying this gem! I use this all year round. I would definitely recommend adding this to your routine!”
- “Great moisturizer that delivers, especially when it promises you a glow. I had a lot of people compliment me on my glowing complexion, because my skin used to be so dull. It gave me a healthy looking skin.”
The negative reviews tended to focus on the product’s greasiness, lack of results, or skin reactions:
- “The worst kind of moisturizer are those that feel extremely oily on your skin. I was hoping that wouldn’t be the case with this moisturizer, but it is. And it’s not great at hydrating dry skin that’s starting to flake.”
- “I really wanted to like this product: it smells absolutely wonderful and has a great texture. Unfortunately it seemed to highlight my post inflammatory pigmentation and irritate my skin. I received this product complimentary for sampling purposes.”
- “I find this moisturizer to be just OK. It hasn’t irritated my skin, which is fairly sensitive, but I haven’t gotten any noteworthy results, either. It’s completely neutral to me. I’ve used about half the jar and will finish it, but won’t be repurchasing. It is a little tacky to the touch, and I swear it smells like how I remember Froot-Loops smelling.”
My Verdict: The Kate Somerville ExfoliKate Glow Moisturizer helps clear out surface dullness with AHAs and Fruit Enzymes for a brighter, smoother, and more radiant complexion. Oh, and bring some milk too because this one smells like Fruit Loops. ????
6. Best for Smoother Skin: GLAMGLOW Good In Bed Passionfruit Softening Night Cream (1.5 oz)
GLAMGLOW is a brand known for its bright and colorful collection of mud masks (like SUPERMUD). Now, it’s added a stylish new night cream, the cleverly named “Good In Bed”, to its line-up.
This product is a deeply nourishing cream that’s best suited for those with dry to combination skin as it helps restore hydration and exfoliate dead skin cells for softer, smoother-to-the-touch skin.
GLAMGLOW says it uses “a blend of AHA, BHA, and PHA… [to] put dull, dehydrated skin to bed!“
However, upon further investigation, I only found AHAs and one BHA (no PHAs) on the ingredient list:
- Glycolic Acid (AHA)
- Citric Acid (AHA)
- Tartaric Acid (AHA)
- Lactic Acid (AHA)
- Salicylic Acid (BHA)
While the concentrations were not disclosed, we can deduce based on their order of appearance that the main ingredient is Glycolic Acid (3rd), followed by smaller amounts of Citric Acid (13th), Tartaric Acid (14th), Lactic Acid (15th), and Salicylic Acid (16th).
In addition, the GLAMGLOW Good In Bed helps nourish dehydrated skin and repair damaged skin with a rich blend of plant oils and humectants, including:
- Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba) Seed Oil
- Persea Gratissima (Avocado) Oil
- Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea) Oil
- Passiflora Edulis (Passionfruit) Seed Oil
- Squalane (Plant Oil)
- Glycerin (Humectant)
- Hyaluronic Acid (Humectant)
On the other hand, the abundance of plant oils makes this cream feel very heavy and it may be too “greasy” for those with oily skin (some reviewers also said it caused breakouts).
Finally, this cream is infused with a sweet scent of passionfruit flower, which is pleasant and relaxing according to some reviewers (note that fragrance contributes no skin benefits, it’s really just there to mask any chemical odors and for general marketing purposes). ????
In terms of customer reviews, the overall feedback was very positive, albeit with a few complaints about greasiness due to the heavy texture. I’d also point out that a large number of reviews came from users who received free samples from INFLUENSTER (which can potentially inflate the ratings, as you’re likely less critical of a free product compared to one that you paid for).
Some representative reviews (both positive and negative) are as follows:
- “I love this product! It is probably one of the best smelling face creams I’ve ever used and has really beautiful packaging. The cream is thick and simple to apply, and absorbed easily in to my skin. After I applied it only once, I already felt its effects and my skin was much softer the next morning. Additionally, I received this product complimentary but it did not effect my impression of it. The only reason I gave it four stars instead of five is because it can be a little greasy. After going to sleep, a bit of the face cream rubbed onto my pillow case and on my hair, leaving it greasy.”
- “I absolutely LOVE this night cream!! When you first open good in bed it’s a bright yellow color and has a subtle passionfruit scent to it. It is a very thick rich cream texture. A tiny bit goes a very long way! When you first put it on, it is a little bit tacky on the skin but as it absorbs into the skin it loses the tackiness. When you wake your skin is so soft, smooth, and supple! My skin feels and looks so hydrated!! I could see a different just after one use! This has become a must have for my nightly routine! I received this product complimentary for testing purposes.”
- “I like this product in the sense that when I wake up the next morning my skin is very soft. That being said it kind of feels like you’re applying lip balm to your entire face. The cream smells like a chapstick and I don’t like how sticky my face feels after it’s applied. Although my skin is soft in the morning, I won’t purchase this product after I run out.”
My Verdict: The GLAMGLOW Good In Bed is a deeply nourishing night cream with AHAs & BHAs for gentle exfoliation and plant oils, including Passionfruit Oil, for intense hydration. Apply to a clean face and wake up in the morning with baby soft, glowing skin! ????
7. Best for Deep Hydration: Glow Recipe Watermelon Glow Sleeping Mask (2.7 oz)
Give your skin a huge boost of hydration and bounciness with Glow Recipe’s Watermelon Glow!
This fun and fruity sleeping mask features Hyaluronic Acid to increase your skin’s moisture retention, amino acid rich Watermelon Extract to deeply hydrate and fight wrinkles & fine lines, and the AHAs Glycolic Acid and Lactic Acid to promote brighter, smoother, and more radiant skin. ????
The full ingredient list is relatively simple (24 in total) and includes additional plant extracts such as Seaweed Extract, Pumpkin Extract, Pomegranate Extract, and Banana Extract. However, the formula does contain Alcohol (near the very end) and a small amount of Fragrance (Glow Recipe states that they use the minimum level of fragrance at less than 0.5% of the total formulation).
There are two ways to use Watermelon Glow Sleeping Mask:
- As an overnight sleeping mask (use at least 2 scoops and don’t wash off)
- As a traditional peel mask (apply a thick layer and wash off after 10 minutes)
In terms of customer reviews, the feedback has been overwhelming positive:
- “What can I say? This sleep mask is fun and effective. My skin looks dewy and youthful every morning. It isn’t messy and smells great. So happy I finally discovered it.”
- “Talk about hydration! I put this mask on 4 times a week and wake up with plump hydrated skin! I have very sensitive skin so it’s hard finding products that don’t cause irritation or lead to breakouts. This mask doesn’t feel heavy or overbearing which makes it easy to sleep in.”
- “I love this because when I wake up in the morning with this my skin looks so even and dewy! Smells great too which is a bonus!”
- “This sleeping mask worked so well with my skin type and concerns. I loved the smell as well as how my skin looked and felt the next morning. Woke up with a smooth and hydrated complexion that lasted all day long!”
On the other hand, common complaints from some users included the lack of significant results and potential breakouts:
- “I’ve used this mask a few times a week for the last month and haven’t really seen any results, nothing bad but not great.”
- “I really wanted to love this mask. I spent months wanting it and then finally bought on Cyber Monday with the discount. I haven’t seen much of a difference after use and I’ve woken up with little white balls in my hair from it.”
- “I love the smell and the texture. It totally hydrated my skin which is great since I have dry skin. However, it made me have a breakout everytime I tried, and I know it was specifically this because I would only break out the day after using this product while the others I used daily and was fine. So sad for me, but apparently I have really sensitive skin.”
My Verdict: The Glow Recipe Watermelon Glow Sleeping Mask is a fun and fruity way to treat your skin to a relaxing night of deep hydration with Hyaluronic Acid and Watermelon Extract, while Glycolic Acid and Lactic Acid renews and refreshes for brighter, smoother, and more radiant skin!
8. Best for Keratosis Pilaris: Glytone Exfoliating Body Lotion with 17.5% Free Acid Value (8.4 oz)
If you have keratosis pilaris like me, you know how difficult it is to find an effective treatment. ????
Personally, I’ve tried sulfur soaps like SAL3 and lactic acid lotions like AmLactin, which softened my rough skin, but did little to remove the small red bumps on my upper arms, forearms, and buttocks.
Fortunately, Glytone Exfoliating Body Lotion has received many positive reviews from KP sufferers and those with eczema, bumpy skin, scaly plaques, and cracked heels, elbows, or knees.
This glycolic body lotion features a “true concentration” of 17.5% glycolic acid (free acid value). I previously explained that free acid value is the most important number because it represents the amount of glycolic acid that can actually penetrate your skin and deliver skin benefits.
If you missed my explanation, it’s under the section on SkinCeuticals Glycolic 10 Renew Overnight.
If we take another look at this chart (courtesy of Glytone), we can see that 17.5% free acid value translates to a significant level of cellular turnover (i.e. exfoliation) and collagen deposition.
In other words, it’s strong enough to remove multiple layers of rough and bumpy skin, clean out the keratin plugs that cause keratosis pilaris, and promote healthier, smoother-looking skin.
This product works well on its own or you can use it together with the Glytone Exfoliating Body Wash which has 8.8% free acid value (the two are actually bundled in a special KP kit with a loofah).
Finally, I also like that it has a very simple ingredient list (11 in total).
In terms of customer feedback, most of the positive reviews claimed it helped with KP:
- “This has made such a difference on my KP upper arms, my rough elbows, my feet and my skin in general. I’m hooked.”
- “The exfoliating wash and body lotion have been a god send for my skin. I have had years of scales and cracks in my skin that I thought I would never get rid of. But now I found the secret of great skin. Thanks Glytone!”
- “This is the best lotion I have ever used to treat my Keratosis Pilaris. It doesn’t completely remove the small bumps, but it dramatically reduces their appearance, giving my skin a much smoother look and feel. It is also very thick, so a little goes a long way, and a bottle lasts me months.”
- “Depending on where your KP is, this is a great lotion. One thing to note is that it’s really thick. If I were using it anywhere but my upper arms, I wouldn’t be able to use it. It goes on thick and keeps my arms moisturized throughout the day. The smell isn’t the greatest either, but overall, a great lotion to treat your KP!”
The more negative reviews tended to focus on either a lack of results or skin sensitivity:
- “Beware this product if you have sensitive skin, it did not help my chicken skin on my legs, made it worse and now I have burn marks on my skin where it torched my skin. Don’t waste your money.”
- “I have KP on the back of my arms and have been desperately searching for a product (before my wedding day) to make it disappear or at least minimize it. I purchased this lotion strictly to help treat my KP, and have using it twice a day for a month. The lotion is slightly thick, odorless, and blends in well. However, it burns my arms and makes them extremely itchy for the first few minutes after it is applied. I would have and could have dealt with the burning and itching if it minimized my KP, but sadly it didn’t. On to the next thing…”
My Verdict: The Glytone Exfoliating Body Lotion features 17.5% glycolic acid (free acid value) to help improve skin conditions like keratosis pilaris and eczema for healthier, clearer, and smoother skin.
9. Best for Wrinkles & Fine Lines: Glytone Rejuvenating Cream 20 with 20% Free Acid Value (1.7 oz)
If you’re looking to reverse common signs of aging, like wrinkles, fine lines, and sun spots, consider using a high concentration glycolic acid cream like the Glytone Rejuvenating Cream 20. ????
Now, as I mentioned before, the free acid value is the most important number on a glycolic product as it measures how much glycolic acid is actually “bioavailable” to penetrate your skin.
If you missed my explanation, it’s under the section on SkinCeuticals Glycolic 10 Renew Overnight.
This particular product contains 20% free acid value (the highest in Glytone’s Rejuvenating Range) which means it can cause significant increase in cell turnover and collagen deposition, as well as “reversal in basal cell atypia” (i.e. replacing abnormal cells in the basal layer with healthy ones).
In other words, it’s a powerful force against common signs of aging, like wrinkles and fine lines, but can also help you maintain a clearer, healthier, and more even-looking complexion. ????
In terms of customer reviews, here’s a sample of what some customers had to say:
- “MUST HAVE face product, period. Keeps your skin exfoliating and renewed. A little goes a long way, smells fantastic (very light fragrance). Use sunblock with this cream. Do NOT use this until you’ve worked up to 20% AHA! This is the high end of OTC AHA potency for facial use, and can cause stinging, burning and redness in those who haven’t been using a 15% product for a while. Glytone rocks. Only brand I’ll use besides NeoStrata (who makes a similar excellent product – I keep both on hand always.)”
- “For 25 years I used Dial soap and Purpose (or some other face cream) on my face. Then one day somebody gave me a few samples to use, needless to say I feel in love with your product. I am complimented all the time on how young I look. Sixty one and proud thanks to Glytone. No filters.”
- “I’ve used glycolic acid creams for years and I think this is the best. I use this on my face, legs and arms. Every winter I use a glycolic cream on the area above my knees that gets the most sun, at 62 this area looked pretty crepey and wrinkly this year, yuk! After a few weeks of nightly use my legs are very smooth no crepey skin, yea! A little goes a long way and you will feel the burn but I didn’t have any redness or peeling on my legs and arms. I’ve been very careful using it on my face, I don’t use it daily and when I do I mix it with a moisturizer.”
- “I am 58, have had cystic acne since I am in my 30’s. I have used Glytone for so many many years. It is the BEST thing I have ever used. Now, with dry skin, which I never had before I still use the cream (#20) and cleanser. Wonderful!!! I get compliments all the time. Yes I have the usual mouth wrinkles but I believe Glytone has also helped diminish some wrinkles, but my skin is so clear. If I don’t use it for some time if I run out the cystic acne comes back. I swear by it for great looking skin. I will NEVER give it up!! You will not be disappointed!!!”
In terms of more critical reviews, I genuinely could not find too many negative ones (which I always strive to include to provide a more balanced opinion for my readers).
The most common complaints were related to the product’s side effects, such as burning, stinging, or tingling, which may happen if you haven’t been using a glycolic acid cream long enough.
My Verdict: The Glytone Rejuvenating Cream 20 is a powerful anti-aging cream that can help you keep common signs of aging, like wrinkles, fine lines, and sun spots, safely at bay. ????
10. Best for Men: Jack Black Line Smoother Oil-Free Moisturizer (3.3 oz)
Men’s skincare brand Jack Black has created an 8% glycolic lotion called the Line Smoother that helps diminish the appearance of wrinkles, fine lines, sun damage, dark circles, and puffiness.
It’s a great product for older men (and women, too) who are searching for ways to keep their skin looking younger, healthier, and more even toned (and at a great price!). ????
Jack Black does not disclose the pH level of Line Smoother so I could not calculate a corresponding Free Acid Value. Just keep in mind that it’s going to be lower than 8% since some of the glycolic acid will dissociate into non-skin-penetrating Ionized Forms.
This glycolic lotion includes Vitamin A, Vitamin E, and Aloe Leaf Juice for additional antioxidant and skin-soothing properties, as well as Lavender Extract for fragrance.
In addition, the full ingredient list is a little bit longer than average (31 in total).
In terms of customer reviews, the overall feedback has been very positive:
- “This is a superior product. I’ve used it a year now and my skin tone is the best I’ve ever seen. Looks far healthier. I’ve done a lot of reading about glycolic acid. The consensus is to use a 10% or less glycolic each night. This is better than getting a chemical peel or using a 30% product on occasion. I’m 59 and I’m telling you this is the way to go for anti-aging. I use nine JB products and if I had to give them all up but one I’d keep this one. Blown away what it’s done for my skin. Much healthier looking!”
- “I have not used a wrinkle reducing product before. Since I started using Jack Black Line Smoother I have been nothing but impressed. Not only has this product reduced the lines around my eyes, it has reduced the puffiness under my eyes. I am very happy with this product and would recommend it.”
- “Similar to other posts, my wife has seen some improvement in my forehead lines so I will continue usage. It does have a fairly strong, almost glue-like smell, but it does not linger. I use this with clean break moisturizer at night. I have tried usage after shaving and it does tingle a bit but it is not overbearing. I do recommend easing into the product before using 2x a day or after shaving. It did sting the first few tries.”
More negative reviews focused on either a lack of results or redness and stinging after shaving:
- “Does absorb quickly and moisturize, has a strange smell. Not really seeing any results.”
- “I was excited to use this, until my skin turned red and started burning.”
My Verdict: The Jack Black Line Smoother Oil-Free Moisturizer is a valuable tool in every man’s anti-aging arsenal. It’s also a great bargain for smart shoppers at $32 for 3.3 oz (only $10 an oz!!). ????