Did you know that a simple glycolic acid mask can
work wonders for your skin?
That's because alpha hydroxy acids like glycolic acid exfoliate dead skin, increase cell turnover, stimulate collagen production, brighten skin tone, draw moisture into the epidermis, and even increase the penetration of other skincare ingredients! (source:
Soleymani et al., 2018)
A glycolic acid mask is the perfect "in between" option if you're not ready for a glycolic acid peel but you don't have the time to apply a daily glycolic acid cream, either.
so many glycolic acid masks on the market, which one is right for you? 🤔
In this post, I'll discuss how to choose a glycolic acid mask and my top recommendations, but we'll need to start from the beginning with an often forgotten concept: free acid value.
RELATED ARTICLES: What Is Free Acid Value? (And Why It Matters)
Whether you're shopping for a glycolic acid mask, a lactic acid lotion, or a simple chemical peel, it's very important that you understand the concept of free acid value (FAV).
In short, free acid value is a
better measure of the true concentration of glycolic acid than the raw percentage on the product (unless it specifically says "free acid value").
That's because glycolic acid, like all acids,
exists in two forms (in aqueous solution):
Free Acid: a non-polar version that's oil-soluble and can penetrate your skin's oily barrier
Ionized/Dissociated: a polar version that's not oil-soluble and cannot
Here's an excellent diagram by LabMuffin that shows these two forms of glycolic acid:
7 Best Glycolic Acid Masks for A Gorgeous Glow (2024 ✅) 9
The free acid form of glycolic acid is on the left while the ionized/dissociated products, namely a hydrogen ion (H+) and the conjugate base of glycolic acid (OH-), are on the right.
At lower pH levels: more free acids are present which raises the effectiveness of glycolic acid but increases the potential for skin irritation as well.
At higher pH levels: fewer free acids are present which lowers the effectiveness of glycolic acid but increases its safety profile by reducing the potential for skin irritation.
If you'd like to learn more about free acid value, check out
LabMuffin and Goals To Get Glowing.
Now, let's move on to the best glycolic acid masks! 😀
What Is The Best Glycolic Acid Mask?
Here are my top recommendations:
Editor's Choice: Glytone Rejuvenating Mask (3.0 PFAV Glycolic Acid)
Dermatologist Approved: CANE+AUSTIN 10% Glycolic Acid Gelée Mask + Cleanser
Best Value for Money: Jack Black Deep Dive Glycolic Facial Cleanser
Best Budget Pick: InstaNatural Exfoliating Glycolic Mask and Face Scrub
Most Popular Pick: Andalou Naturals Pumpkin Honey Glycolic Mask
Best for Brighter Skin: REN Clean Skincare Glycol Lactic Radiance Renewal Mask
Best for Clearer Skin: Perfect Image Exfoliating & Clarifying UltraMUD
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Meanwhile, ascorbic acid (vitamin C) helps fade dark spots and brighten your complexion while kaolin and bentonite clays
draw out impurities and detoxify your skin.
Finally, soluble collagen accelerates the recovery process to
build smoother and firmer skin while glycerin helps keep your skin hydrated.
My Verdict: Keep your skin looking younger and smoother with Glytone Rejuvenating Mask featuring 3.0 PFAV glycolic acid, vitamin C, purifying clays, collagen, and glycerin.
Customer reviews are somewhat mixed, however, with some who loved the deep exfoliation and post-mask hydration, while one woman had a skin reaction and another said it's expensive.
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My Verdict: CANE+AUSTIN 10% Glycolic Acid Gelée Mask + Cleanser is a 2-in-1 cleanser and mask that'll leave your skin feeling refreshed while giving your pores a "breath of fresh air".
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My Verdict: Jack Black Deep Dive Glycolic Facial Cleanser is a clay-based face mask that will draw out impurities and remove dead skin cells for a cleaner, smoother, and fresher look.
It's also great for minimizing enlarged pores, fighting acne, and
brightening your skin tone.
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My Verdict: Treat your skin to an authentic spa experience without breaking the bank with InstaNatural Exfoliating Glycolic Mask featuring glycolic acid and tons of botanical extracts.
Finally, aloe vera hydrates,
fruit stem cells stimulate circulation and increase cell renewal, while vitamin C corrects uneven tone and protects your skin from free radicals.
it smells like warm pumpkin spice, too! (okay you win, marketing team 😆)
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The only downside is that Andalou Naturals uses a
very low concentration of glycolic acid (only 1% according to a few reviews) but this is a necessary trade-off for the lower price.
For a higher concentration, see my previous recommendations of
Glytone and CANE+AUSTIN.
My Verdict: Celebrate fall (or any season) with Andalou Naturals Pumpkin Honey Glycolic Mask to exfoliate, brighten, and soothe skin with pumpkin puree, manuka honey, and glycolic acid.
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My Verdict: Clean beauty (simple ingredients, minimal packaging, cruelty free) is the future and REN Clean Skincare is already there! Use Glycol Lactic Radiance Renewal Mask with fruit enzymes to brighten, tighten, and rejuvenate your skin for a healthy & youthful glow.
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My Verdict: Put on the jazz music while you relax and mask away the blues with Perfect Image Exfoliating & Clarifying UltraMUD featuring natural clays, AHAs/BHAs, and botanical extracts.