Best Glycolic Acid Cream 2020 | My Top 5 Picks

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Are you searching for the best glycolic acid cream?

Whether you have keratosis pilaris, wrinkles, hyperpigmentation, or dry skin, a glycolic acid lotion might be just the solution.

Glycolic acid creams combine the best of both worlds – the exfoliating benefits of glycolic acid with the hydrating properties of a lotion. 

With regular use, this product helps reveal smoother and brighter skin without the irritation and sensitivity of a chemical peel.

ⓘ Keep reading for our guide to glycolic acid creams and top 5 recommendations!

Related: Meladerm Review

What Is The Best Glycolic Acid Cream?

Here are my top recommendations for the best glycolic acid creams:

  1. Glycolix Elite 10% Glycolic Acid Exfoliating Facial Cream [Best Overall Pick]
  2. Glytone Exfoliating Body Lotion [Best for Keratosis Pilaris & Rough Skin]
  3. Paula’s Choice Skin Perfecting 8% AHA Gel Exfoliant [Best for Sensitive Skin]
  4. NeoStrata Resurface High Potency Cream [Best for Severe Skin Issues]
  5. Reviva Labs 5% Glycolic Acid Cream [Best Budget Option]

The 5 Best Glycolic Acid Creams in 2020

1. Best Overall Pick: Glycolix Elite 10% Glycolic Acid Exfoliating Facial Cream

SALE
Glycolix Elite 10% Glycolic Acid Face Cream, Exfoliating Face Moisturizer for Acne, Fine Lines, Wrinkles, and Age Spots, 1.6 oz
353 Reviews
Glycolix Elite 10% Glycolic Acid Face Cream, Exfoliating Face Moisturizer for Acne, Fine Lines, Wrinkles, and Age Spots, 1.6 oz
  • Glycolic elite 10% facial cream is a cosmetically elegant anti-aging formulation with 10% glycolic acid, designed to stimulate cellular turnover rate and reveal...
  • This rich cream also includes vitamins A, C and E and green tea to provide superior antioxidant protection against further free radical-induced skin damage
  • You'll see rejuvenated skin with fewer fine lines, less discoloration and improved texture and tone

Last Updated: 2020-04-05 / Images from Amazon PA API

Glycolix Elite is an excellent option for skin issues like hyperpigmentation, wrinkles and fine lines, keratosis pilaris, and dry skin.

Featuring 10% glycolic acid (available in 15% and 20%), this lotion removes layers of dead skin cells to reveal smoother, brighter skin.

It also includes antioxidants like green tea, CoQ10, vitamin C, and vitamin E to protect the skin from free radical damage and future skin discoloration. Stellar reviews as well.

The main ingredients include:

  • 10% Glycolic Acid
  • Squalane (moisturizing)
  • Green Tea (antioxidant)
  • Coenzyme Q10 (antioxidant)
  • Vitamin A (exfoliating)
  • Vitamin C (skin brightener and antioxidant)
  • Vitamin E (hydrator and antioxidant)

The additional antioxidants from green tea, CoQ10, and vitamins A/C/E all help protect the skin from further free radical damage. This prevents future skin discoloration and hyperpigmentation.

Customer reviews of Glycolix Elite have been extremely positive. Some of the comments include:

  • Softer wrinkles
  • Skin looks clear and smooth
  • Smaller pores
  • Less oily skin
  • Fades hyperpigmentation and sun damage
  • Visibly glowing skin

Glycolix Elite is also available in 15% and 20% for those who want a higher concentration. The 10% version is a great starting point for beginners.

2. Best for Keratosis Pilaris & Rough Skin: Glytone Exfoliating Body Lotion

GLYTONE Exfoliating Body Lotion, 8.4 oz
431 Reviews
GLYTONE Exfoliating Body Lotion, 8.4 oz
  • Medical grade cosmeceutical
  • Glytone uses free unbuffered glycolic acid effective for skin rejuvenation

Last Updated: 2020-04-05 / Images from Amazon PA API

For body issues like keratosis pilaris (bumpy skin), look no further than Glytone. Featuring a high concentration of 17.5% glycolic acid, this cream penetrates hardened keratotic skin on the upper arms, thighs, and buttocks (common areas for KP).

Glytone can help soften skin and smooth out bumps as keratin plugs are exfoliated along with dead skin cells. It also works well for dry skin, scaly plaques, and cracked heels, elbows or knees.

This lotion features a high concentration of 17.5% glycolic acid to effectively penetrate hardened keratotic and dry skin. With daily use (preferably right after a warm shower), you can expect smoother and more hydrated skin with fewer red bumps.

Many customers experienced great results and one woman claims it improved her keratosis pilaris by 80%! 

This lotion has little to no scent and one bottle can last for several months.

3. Best for Sensitive Skin: Paula’s Choice Skin Perfecting 8% AHA Gel Exfoliant

Paula's Choice SKIN PERFECTING 8% AHA Gel Exfoliant with Glycolic Acid Chamomile & Green Tea, 3.3 Ounce Pump Leave-On Gentle Exfoliator
460 Reviews
Paula's Choice SKIN PERFECTING 8% AHA Gel Exfoliant with Glycolic Acid Chamomile & Green Tea, 3.3 Ounce Pump Leave-On Gentle Exfoliator
  • NON-ABRASIVE LEAVE-ON EXFOLIATOR: gently removes dull skin, naturally revealing the radiance hidden underneath. Revitalizes the skin's surface and helps keep skin...
  • Paula's Choice SKIN PERFECTING 8% AHA Gel Exfoliant with Glycolic Acid, Chamomile, and Green Tea can help minimize the look of discolorations and age spots, and with...
  • With antioxidants from green tea and other natural ingredients, and the soothing power of chamomile, plus the exfoliating benefits of glycolic acid, this unique...

Last Updated: 2020-04-05 / Images from Amazon PA API

For combination or oily skin, a lightweight gel like Paula’s Choice is a great choice.

Featuring 8% glycolic acid, this gentle gel provides mild exfoliation to correct dark spots, wrinkles and fine lines, and acne scars. It also includes green tea and chamomile extract to prevent future discoloration.

Glycolic acid helps remove dead skin cells and smooth out wrinkles and fine lines. 

Green tea and chamomile extracts provide additional skin-soothing properties that help with discoloration and prevent UV-induced free radical damage.

Paula’s Choice notes that their AHA gel provides a gentler exfoliation than manual face scrubs which may cause “micro-tears” in the skin.

This gel is easy to absorb and can be layered under a moisturizer, sunscreen, or makeup. It is formulated at an ideal pH of 3.5 to 3.9.

4. Best for Severe Skin Issues: NeoStrata Resurface High Potency Cream

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NeoStrata Resurface High Potency Cream AHA 20, 1.0 Ounce
136 Reviews
NeoStrata Resurface High Potency Cream AHA 20, 1.0 Ounce
  • A powerful moisturizer with Glycolic Acid and Lacto bionic Acid to exfoliate, hydrate and restore aging skin on the face and neck
  • High strength, restorative anti-aging cream
  • 18% Glycolic Acid exfoliates and hydrates skin

Last Updated: 2020-04-05 / Images from Amazon PA API

For stubborn skin issues, NeoStrata Resurface might just be the solution you’re looking for.

Designed for experienced users of glycolic acid, this cream may help with more severe wrinkles and fine lines, hyperpigmentation, and uneven skin tone.

The key ingredients include 18% glycolic acid, 2% lactobionic acid (similar to glycolic acid but less irritating), and vitamin E. Reviews of NeoStrata are exceptionally positive.

Lactobionic acid is a polyhydroxy acid with similar properties to AHAs. But it’s a much larger molecule which means it won’t penetrate as deep into the skin. This helps avoid the skin irritation that AHAs can sometimes cause.

Customer reviews have been incredibly positive and many were referred by their dermatologist to try this cream.

In fact, some people have been using this cream for decades (one woman since 1990!) and have provided glowing testimonials of its effectiveness. 

5. Best Budget Option: Reviva Labs 5% Glycolic Acid Cream

SALE
Reviva Labs 5% Glycolic Acid Cream, 1.5 oz.
285 Reviews
Reviva Labs 5% Glycolic Acid Cream, 1.5 oz.
  • For both aging and problem skin
  • Exfoliation and cell renewal for mature skin
  • 100% glycolic extract, never diluted

Last Updated: 2020-04-05 / Images from Amazon PA API

Reviva Labs offers an affordable glycolic acid cream that is perfect for beginners and sensitive skin.

Featuring 5% glycolic acid, this lotion includes pumpkin extract, chamomile, witch hazel, and vitamins A/D/E for added exfoliating and antioxidant goodness.

The ingredient list features: 

  • 5% Glycolic Acid
  • Pumpkin Extract (exfoliating)
  • Chamomile (soothing)
  • Witch Hazel (anti-inflammatory)
  • Vitamin A (exfoliating)
  • Vitamin D (antioxidant)
  • Vitamin E (hydrator and antioxidant)

Customer reviews have also been very positive. Many people noticed this glycolic acid cream helped with keratosis pilaris, wrinkles, crow’s feet, melasma, sun damage, oily skin, and even body acne.

What is Glycolic Acid?

Glycolic acid is the smallest and simplest type of alpha hydroxy acid (AHA). It’s the most common ingredient in chemical peels and typically derived from sugar cane. 

So how does it work?

Glycolic acid basically “unglues” the bonds that hold dead skin cells together in the upper layers of your skin (called the epidermis). 

As these bonds weaken, layers of dead skin cells will naturally fall off to reveal smoother, brighter and more even looking skin. 

Benefits of Glycolic Acid

What Causes Hyperpigmentation

The benefits of glycolic acid include:

  • Smoother and brighter skin
  • More even skin tone
  • Improved skin clarity and radiance
  • Increased effectiveness of other skincare products

Studies have shown that glycolic acid can help with:

  • Keratosis pilaris
  • Wrinkles and fine lines
  • Hyperpigmentation
  • Uneven skin tone

By removing dead skin cells faster, glycolic acid promotes higher cell turnover. This means how quickly skin cells are created and move through our skin (usually 28-40 days). 

Let’s look at a few examples to see how glycolic acid can improve your skin condition.

Keratosis Pilaris

In keratosis pilaris, a tough protein called keratin builds up in the hair follicle. This causes dry, hard skin with small red bumps.

Glycolic acid helps exfoliate the keratinized (hardened) skin and unclog blocked pores. 

As dead skin cells are removed, fresh skin cells take their place. This results in smoother and softer skin with fewer keratin plugs.

Wrinkles & Fine Lines

As we age, our body naturally produces less collagen and elastin fibers. 

Without these structural proteins (like the foundation of a house), our skin starts to sag and lose firmness. This causes the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines.

The good news is that glycolic acid can stimulate collagen production to restore skin firmness. It also promotes faster cell turnover which helps diminish wrinkles and fine lines.

Hyperpigmentation

Glycolic acid also works well for hyperpigmentation such as age spots, melasma, acne scars, and sun damaged skin.

All of these skin conditions are caused by excess melanin. This is a pigment in our skin that determines skin color and protects us from the sun’s ultraviolet radiation (UV rays). 

Too much melanin, however, leads to unwanted dark spots and discoloration.

By shedding away dead skin cells, glycolic acid also removes the excess melanin stored in them. This helps fade dark spots and promote a more even skin tone.

How to Use Glycolic Acid Creams

Partly Cloudy Sky With Sun

When using any products with AHAs like glycolic acid, make sure to use adequate sunscreen and sun protection during the day.

AHAs can increase sun sensitivity and the likelihood of sun damage.

You don’t want more dark spots, do you? 🙂

For beginners, I recommend starting with a low concentration cream like 5% or 10%. Then gradually work your way up to higher concentrations if you don’t see good results.

Always do a patch test first to check for adverse skin reactions.

Start with a daily application at night and slowly work up to twice a day, depending on the instructions for your product.

Conclusion

We hope our buyer’s guide helps you find the best glycolic acid cream. 

Consistent use can help with keratosis pilaris, wrinkles and fine lines, age spots, and dry skin.

Our top recommendation is Glycolix Elite 10% Glycolic Acid Exfoliating Facial Cream

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