Glycolic Acid VS Lactic Acid: Which One Should You Use?

by Gio
lactic acid vs glycolic acid - which one is right for you?

Are you Team Glycolic or Team Lactic?

If you don’t know what I’m talking about, this is the ultimate battle for exfoliation. Both glycolic and lactic acids want to be the one to get those dead cells off your face and make your complexion glow.

But only one can get the gig (ok, some products have both but there are some skin types – yes sensitive skin, I’m looking at you – that are better off with just the one).

So, which one should you choose? I’m Team Glyolic all the way but just so to prove I’m not biased, I’ll tell you all about both and which one is best for YOUR skin type and needs.

Ready? Let’s get started:

What Do Glycolic Acid And Lactic Acid Have In Common?

Glycolic acid and lacti acid are both members of the Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHAs) family. Glycolic is derived from sugar cane while lactic acid from milk but they both work the same way: they dissolve the “glue” that holds skin cells together.

With nothing forcing these cells to hang out together, they’re free to finally slough off your skin. As superficial, damaged layer of skin gives way to the newer layer underneath, your skin gets smoother and brighter. Wrinkles look smaller. Dark spots slowly fade away. Your whole complexion subtly glows.

Like this weren’t enough, AHAs hydrate skin too. They’re humectants, i.e. moisture magnets that attract water from the environment into your skin. For dry skin, they’re both godsends.

Related: AHAs VS BHA: Which One Should You Use?

the ordinary glycolic acid toning solution

Glycolic Acid Is Best For Sun Damaged Skin

Ok, so both glycolic and lactic acids are good for dry skin. But if your skin is sundamaged too (and whose skin isn’t sundamaged), glycolic acid goes the extra mile.

And not just because it’s the smallest member of the AHAs family so it can penetrate your skin more deeply and work faster.

Nope, what makes glycolic acid so awesome is its collagen boosting super power: glycolic acid pumps up its production, keeping your skin firm for longer. This is why it’s so good at fighting the signs of aging.

Plus, in the long run, it increases thickness of the skin, too. I say “in the long run” because that takes time. When you first start using it, glycolic acid temporarily thins skin, making it more prone to sun damage. Ironic, isn’t it? Use it at night, slather sunscreen on in the morning and you’ll be fine.

Best Picks:

Related: The Complete Guide To Glycolic Acid

the ordinary lactic acid 10 + ha 2 02

Lactic Acid Is Best For Sensitive Skin

Lactic acid doesn’t seem that attractive anymore now, does it? But it has its perks. Especially if you have sensitive skin.

Lactic acid is the gentlest member of the AHAs family. While sensitive skin often throws a tantrum and gets irritated the second it comes in contact with glycolic acid, it’s totally fine with lactic acid.

Plus, it’s more hydrating (that’s why it’s in LacHydrin, the only FDA prescription approved drug to treat dry skin), so if your skin is seriously dry, you may want to give this one a go instead.

One more thing: unlike glycolic, lactic acid adoesn’t thin skin (but that’s not a good reason to skip your sunscreen!)

Best picks:


The Bottom Line

Glycolic is for sun-damaged, dry skin. Lactic is for sensitive and super dry skin. Happy exfoliation!

Do you prefer lactic or glycolic acid? Share your thoughts in the comments below.



Trisha July 28, 2015 - 2:36 pm

Huh, I had no idea about lactic acid (expect for what it does to my muscles when I exercise.) But it being good for sensitive skin makes me totally want to try it.

Gio July 28, 2015 - 3:02 pm

Trisha, it’s my favourite way to exfoliate sensitive skin. I’m sure you’ll love it.

Allison July 28, 2015 - 8:34 pm

A couple of the skincare products I have in my stash from Exuviance use both of them. Very informative post, Gio. I know I will come back to refer to it from time to time!

Gio July 29, 2015 - 5:54 am

Alllison, glad you found it useful. 🙂

dp July 29, 2015 - 1:24 am

Love glycolic acid discussions! Olay Regenerist Night Elixir just went off the market (boo!). It was a very simple, nice formula. Best value/quality I have found is Alpha Hydrox 10% in a 6oz bottle for $13 at most drug stores.

I do have some questions. Is it ever ok to mix the glycolic acid product with your moisturizer? If I wanted it to be 5%, say, could I mix equal dollops of my day or night moisturizer with the 10% glycolic product?

And on a similar note, do I need to allow the glycolic product to thoroughly dry before proceeding with the moisturizer and the rest of the daily routine if I don’t mix them? Or does it need it’s own space to do it’s thing for a few minutes?

I use serum one day, glycolic the next. Is it better to use serum in the a.m. and glycolic in the p.m. and not skip?

Any hints or suggestions of where to find these answers appreciated. Every beauty counter has a different answer and product push. I read many good websites and blogs, but I’ve never seen these addressed.

Gio July 29, 2015 - 6:10 am

Dp, glad you enjoyed this post, and that’s such a shame. I hate it when good products go off the market.

The problem with skincare is that there often isn’t a straight answer. There are different factors to take into consideration, and everyone has different skin anyway, so what works for someone may not work for someone else. Having said that, it’s always best to be sceptical of anyone who is trying to sell you something!

For example, there are some people who can get away with using glycolic acid daily, while others would find that too irritating for their skin. I think using it on alternate days is probably best, as too much exfoliation is never good for skin. But, if you think your skin can tolerate it, you can increase the frequency. You won’t know until you experiment with it.

I would wait until glycolic acid is dry before applying the next skincare product. Ideally, that’s what we should do with every skincare product..

And you can mix it with a basic moisturizer, but not with anything that contains retinoids, salicylic acid, and vitamin c. You risk changing the ph and making one of these ingredients less effective.

Hope this helps.

DP July 29, 2015 - 1:03 pm

Thanks! Gotta love a good glycolic conversation!

Gio July 29, 2015 - 7:38 pm

My pleasure. Agree!

Younghee June 25, 2017 - 8:39 pm

Why is 10% lactic acid E
Cream prescribed? Why not over the counter?

Gio July 7, 2017 - 10:39 am

Younghee, because it’s a high concentration that may seriously irritate or even burn your skin!

Sarah December 28, 2015 - 3:26 am

I’m struggling with the fact i have really dark knuckles and it can be embarrassing all the time, i’ve tried lightening creams but they dont seem to work; until i came across the peeling procedures but my problem is i dont know which peeling product 2 get, anyone with a similar problem and have tried peeling their dark knuckles and it worked for them please help me out by giving me an advice


Gio December 29, 2015 - 8:02 am

Sarrah, get an exfoliant with glycolic acid. That’ll help. Be careful with using a high concentration (20% or more). These can be quite irritating, and should be administered by a dermatologist only. Hope this helps.

Rana May 3, 2016 - 9:36 am

Can I apply a body milk contains lipoaminoaacid,glycolic acid 8%’lactic acid applied on my face ?

Gio May 4, 2016 - 7:07 pm

Rana, I’d recommend you do a patch test. Try it on a small area of the face at first, and, if it doesn’t cause problems, then you can use it safely.

Rana May 4, 2016 - 9:21 pm

Thank you very much.. all your posts are very useful.

Gio May 5, 2016 - 9:16 pm

My pleasure, and thank you! I’m glad you find them useful.

Deb May 13, 2016 - 5:38 am

This was so informative and well presented, thank you!! Summer is about to start and where I live, it is BRUTAL so I think I’ll stick with lactic acid for now and wait until fall/winter to use glycolic acid. If it weren’t for a horrible breakout that left a ton of scars, I’d be skipping chemical exfoliants for a few months! ah well…

Gio May 20, 2016 - 10:13 pm

Deb, oh sorry to hear about your breakout! I’m sure lactic acid will help. 🙂

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[…] Okay okay I’m getting to that ! a detailed explanation is a great way to start understanding these type of products, i highly recommend reading this link, […]

Sini August 4, 2016 - 4:57 am

Thanks Gio, wonderfully reviewed, im 29 and have minimal fine lines. I use retin A at night. Can i use glycolic acid in day.

Gio September 6, 2016 - 3:51 pm

Sini, yes, you can, as long as you apply sunscreen afterwards. Glycolic acid can make skin more susceptible to sun damage and the only way to prevent that is sunscreen.

sneha November 9, 2016 - 8:06 pm

Thanks ! Your post was really helpful. I have very sensitive skin and have been using Artistry Refinishing lotion (an alternative to Alpha hydroxy serum for oily skin) for 3 years now. It has dramatically improved my skin texture.

Gio November 11, 2016 - 9:22 pm

Sneha, glad this post helped you and that you’ve found something that works so well for you. Thanks for sharing.

zalin December 27, 2016 - 4:08 pm

Im so glad to have found your article, especially the useful comparisons of both acids. I have a love hate relationship with glycolic acid, while it gave me a smooth radiant texture, it also broke me out into tiny pimples around my lip area, chin, forehead and cheeks!
I have combination to oily skin in mid 30s and used pixi glow tonic at 5% glycolic which stings the crap out of me. Im also using cosrx salycilic acid on and around my nose for blackheads and large pores for 8 months now and it has been good.
I need your thoughts on lactic acid by manyo factory clear skin toner which i have on standby to replace the pixi but is very apprehensive to use it out of fear of another future breakouts. Im asumming i may have overexfoliate but now my skin is recovering post pixi..your advise is much appreciated.

Gio December 28, 2016 - 8:15 pm

Zalin, sorry you had such a bad experience with the Pixi toner. Did you use it every day? Then, you might indeed have overexfoliated.

Lactic acid is gentler than glycolic so the Manyo toner should be fine. But I noticed it contains a couple of natural extracts that could be irritating. They’re there in tiny amounts so they won’t likely cause any problems unless your skin is very sensitive. If that’s the case, you might want to do a patch test first.

zalin December 29, 2016 - 4:53 am

Thank you so much for your advise Gio! I will try the patch test and cross my fingers that I will be pimple free!
Love all your contents! Very well written which is simple, clear and concise.

Gio December 29, 2016 - 8:58 am

Zalin, you’re welcome and thank you for your kind words. So glad you find it useful.

Tahira February 25, 2017 - 7:09 pm

Thanks for this site I have had some terrible sensitivity and scarring in the past I had used hair removal cream on my skin which left a scar on my face which I have been very conscious about so I’m guessing my skin is very sensitive I will start to use a low concentration and was also thinking as I have Asian skin do I need to be extra careful with how many times I use it and what is the best aftercare and how to use it? Hope you can help

Gio February 28, 2017 - 8:24 pm

Tahira, if you have sensitive skin, I do recommend you use lactic acid rather than glycolic. Use it only once a week and follow up with a soothing moisturizer. Hope this helps.

Elka March 16, 2017 - 6:35 am

Thanks for the great article! Do you think it’s ok to use lactic acid and glycolic acid together? For example pixi glow tonic followed by Sunday Riley good genes? Or would I need to alternate?

Gio March 18, 2017 - 7:17 pm

Elka, it really depends on their concentration and skin types. These two acids are often used together so if you have normal/oily skin, you shouldn’t have a problem. If it’s sensitive, I wouldn’t risk it. Maybe try doing a patch test and see how it goes.

Prabha June 21, 2017 - 3:36 am

Hello mam i am from india..i have dry and sensitive skin and some small scars too..and sun screen doesn’t suit me..and here temp in india is 40°C and when i go out of the house my skin starts burning and becomes too much red and when i use sun screen it started breakout what should i do and comedogenic moisturiser also doesn’t suit me when i use oil basemoisturiser my face becomes black…i wants to remove the scar i glow on face..please tell me that what should i do..i have tried many products but it doesn’t help me.should i use the lactic acid..please tell me what should i do.? ..please reply me…

Gio June 24, 2017 - 8:08 am

Prabha, what do you mean sunscreen doesn’t suit you? If your skin burns and becomes red in the sun is because you’re not wearing it. Look for a sunscreen that has a lightweight texture as those usually don’t clog pores and cause breakouts.

It’s very difficult to treat scars. I think in your case, glycolic acid would be the best option. But, you need to use it with sunscreen. Glycolic acid, like all types of exfoliation, can make skin more prone to sun damage. You don’t want to fix a problem only to develop another!

Kelly July 14, 2017 - 1:59 am

Hi I have kp and using sal3 soap and exfoliating plus touch kp lotion for over a month and haven’t seen any difference shower every day scrub with a course pumice stone while lathered then load up with lotion what can I do better yes it stings but I can handle it if my kp get better I probably have it the worst case ever

Gio July 15, 2017 - 9:03 am

Kelly, stop scrubbing with a pumice stone, that’s too harsh for you! It you need to exfoliate, go with lactic acid. That’s much gentler for your skin. Skincare should never sting. A slight tingling when using acids is ok, but if something stings, it’s a sign it’s irritating your skin.

Kelly July 16, 2017 - 5:09 am

So what is a good skincare treatment for Keritosis pillars that you recommend and a timeline to see actual results so I stop wasting money on stuff that won’t work there is so much miss information about this condition

Gio July 21, 2017 - 12:22 pm

Kelly, try lactic acid. It’s one of the best treatments for keratosis pilaris.

Kelly October 20, 2017 - 6:03 am

So I purchased a bottle of 90 percent lactic acid, mixed it with my 15% glycolic acid and 2% salicylic acid lotion and use small portions mixed with the kp exfoliating lotion and it’s been a couple months and I wash with (sal3) soap which has salicylic acid and sulfur. I still haven’t seen a difference!
My dad has phsorisis is this really a auto immune disease?

Gio October 28, 2017 - 2:13 pm

Kelly, sorry to hear you didn’t see results. You are using a lot of acids though, is your skin getting drier? I’s use something like AmLactin and maybe a retinol serum if that alone isn’t enough. Use both at night. In the morning, pile on the sunscreen.

The latest research seems to agree that psoriasis is an autoimmune disease but to be honest we don’t know the exact cause yet.

Kelly October 23, 2017 - 1:46 am

Oh and don’t forget GO HAWKS!!

Gio October 28, 2017 - 2:14 pm

Kelly, 🙂

Ana December 16, 2017 - 4:29 pm

Both! Glycolic for my face and lactic acid for my body. Actually I do prepare my own lactic acid thin gel every winter and it does a wonderful job.
Thank you for your articles, really helpful!

Gio December 16, 2017 - 10:50 pm

Ana, what a great way to get the best of both worlds!

Raahema January 19, 2018 - 6:53 am

Hi Giorgia
Your article was just what I was looking for, a comparison between lactic and glycolic acid, since many people are constantly recommending one over the other.
So me being a newbie to acids, I was thinking to try the lactic acid by the ordinary range. Is it gentle enough for a 1st timer?

Gio January 19, 2018 - 1:22 pm

Hi Raahema, glad you’ve found this useful. Yes, the 5% lactic acid for the ordinary is suitable for first timers and sensitive skin.

Cat January 22, 2018 - 5:40 am

I love both Glycolic & Lactic! Wish I’d discovered them before the age of 39!

I use the Mario Badaescu Glycolic Gel at night and use a small amount of Lac Hydrin V on my face during the day. It seems to be marketed as a “body” lotion, but I find my face tolerates it well. I have fewer breakouts and they seem to “rise” to the surface more quickly, rather than hang out, lurking in the deep.

The only bummer I have found is that while salicylic is SO often touted as THE thing for acne, I find nothing works better than old-fashioned towel-destroying benzoyl peroxide spot treatments. What gives?

Gio January 28, 2018 - 3:06 pm

Cat, I hear ya! Exfoliating acids are amazing for skin.

Personally, I find salicylic acid works best at prevention, benzoyl peroxide as cure. SA unclogs the pores so if you keep them clean = fewer breakouts. But once you have a pimple, benzoyl peroxide can get rid of it much faster.

Deborah February 6, 2018 - 2:54 pm

Thanks for this article Gio! Does one build up a tolerance to AHAs over time and will need to go up in concentration? I’m using The Ordinary 5% Lactic Acid (first chemical exfoliator ever!) and it’s working well, but will I eventually need to go up to their 10% or glycolic, in order to get the same effects? Thanks!

Gio February 10, 2018 - 5:03 pm

Deborah, yes your skin builds up tolerance to AHAs so overtime you will be able to use higher concentrations. But whether you choose to do so also depends on your skin type and needs. If your skin is sensitive, you may want to stick with it long term. Ditto if you’re still young and don’t need much exfoliation in the first place. But if you need to up your anti aging game and your skin can tolerate it, then you can switch to a higher dose.

Angie February 18, 2018 - 5:11 am

This article is what I was looking for! Can I use a vitamin c serum in the morning and Sunday Riley good genes every other night and the rest of the night retinol? I have this 3 amazing products but I don’t know if they will be too much for my skin ? should I stick to two of them or I can alternate them? I will appreciate your help

Gio March 2, 2018 - 5:36 pm

Angie, so glad it helped! Yes, this is exactly what I do. 🙂 But these ingredients are very powerful so if you’ve never used them before, I’d recommend you introduce them into your skincare routine one at a time. Start with one and, if after 2/3 weeks, you don’t experience any dryness/flaking, add another one. Hope this helps.

Nanette March 2, 2018 - 10:14 am

Hello, i’m enjoying this article. Thank you so much!
i have dark spots post-acnes around my cheeks and also i experience some breakouts around my T Zone, is it okay if i use The Ordinary lactic Acid 5?
If so, i wonder what toner to combine with The Ordinary lactic acid 5 +HA? i now have Cosrx AHA/BHA clarifying toner and Benton High Content Skin (toner). i’m afraid if use the Cosrx one, i will overexfoliate my skin bcz it contains AHA/BHA.
Also, could you give me some advice on how to get rid of these dark spots?
Thank you once again! 🙂

Gio March 2, 2018 - 6:01 pm

Nanette, I’d use lactic acid on your dark spots and salicylic acid on your breakouts and breakouts-prone areas. Corsx toner won’t do though. The concentration of AHAs/BHA there is really low so it won’t do much for you. If you want to finish it, I’d say use it it in the morning and exfoliate at night.

Jo March 11, 2018 - 12:22 am

Hi Gio, Thank you for your article. I have sun damage/pigmentation on the sides of my neck and on my face. I still have acne at 46 years old and a few scars – I heal from scars extremely well. My skin is oily. The moisturisers for “oily skin”, that I’ve tried all make me break out so I do not use them except a gel around my eyes. Even eye moisturisers made me break out there when I tried them. At beauty salons, I have been told I have very “resilient” skin after my skin did not react to treatments, and they had to up the ante numerous times before my skin reacted at all. I had Microdermabrasion a few years ago. After increasing intensity numerous times, the lady told me she had it up higher for me than for anyone before. My skin still did not react any more than what she would expect under normal circumstances on the first level she tried on me. I can’t afford to go these days and have purchased Perfect Image Glycolic Gel Peel to use at home. I used 20% for 10 mins. My skin was not even pink. I did not feel it. I am now using Glycolic 30% for 15 minutes once a week. (About 3 weeks now) My skin tingles a bit, and gets a bit pink. I have only had slight flaking in one spot, once. My acne has about the same amount of breakouts, but they are smaller, and I think the pigmentation has improved a bit. I use Thalgo M Ceutic Pro-Renewal Cleanser and M Ceutic Resurfacer Cream-Serum twice daily. I take Vitamin C twice a day. I have just added Zinc tablets twice a day. I use Light Stim Collagen Peptide Serum as a “moisturiser” at night. I hardly go out in the sun these days, but if I do, I wear Thalgo Fluide Oxygen Defense 3. It is only SPF 15, but I am scared to try anything else, because my skin normally reacts like I have smothered it with oil and put a plastic sheet over it. I wear a wide brimmed hat and try to stay in the shade as much as possible, and I have been known to wrap a scarf around that to protect my skin further. Do you have any suggestions for products that would suit skin like mine (especially sunscreen), and how I can improve my skin more. It feels firmer, but still feels rough and like it needs exfoliation! Should also add, I am caucasian, female, and live in Sydney, Australia. Thank you, Jo

Gio March 16, 2018 - 8:40 pm

Jo, you’re already using a powerful exfoliant so I don’t think your skin needs more exfoliation than that. I would caution against it cos even if you have resilient skin, there’s always the risk you will go over the edges, especially when you do it home. The only thing I can suggest is try retinol or as that can smooth out the skin’s surface. You can use it a couple of times a week. Given how strong you’re exfoliant is, I wouldn’t use it more than that. It’s not really recommended you use retinol on the same day or just before/after a peel.

You can check out my fave sunscreens for oily skin here:

Manda March 13, 2018 - 6:03 pm

Thanks for the info! I’ve been trying to decide on which one I wanted to try and I may just have to start out with Lactic because my skin is sensitive. I wouldn’t have known if I hadn’t read this!

Gio March 23, 2018 - 6:38 pm

Manda, my pleasure. Glad it helped you made the right choice for your skin. 🙂

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Ahdiah April 25, 2018 - 10:08 am

Hi, Gio! I just read your article and it is so awesome! I read that you cannot use Glycolic acid with Vitamin C (L-Ascorbic Acid), but what I understand is Vitamin C is the most effective within 2.5 – 3.5 pH range. So usually after cleansing our face with water based cleanser then our skin pH will be around 6 – 7, as water is about 6.7 – 7 pH range. Then if we were to use Vitamin C after, we need to get our skin pH from 6 – 7 pH to 2.5 – 3.5 pH range. And it is advised that we use pH adjusting toner or serum with 4.5 – 5 pH to slowly lower our skin pH. Using Glycolic Acid with pH 3.5 – 3.7 range before putting Vitamin C will condition our skin faster and more effective for vit C to work. So how do you think about this method? I understand that Glycolic Acid cannot be used with Retinoil/oid because Retinol/oid or EUK134 which decreases in effectiveness in acidic pH.

Gio April 27, 2018 - 10:01 am

Ahdiah, I don’t see any reason why you shouldn’t use them together. I don’t because I prefer to exfoliate at night and use vitamin c in the morning this regime is fine.

Delilah Morris May 5, 2018 - 9:45 am

Hi. The older I get (32) the bigger my pores seem to get on my nose and cheeks. Ivebuse lactic acid before and it made my skin look great but that was before I had these huge pores. Which do you think would be better lac or gly for reducing the appearance of those. Thanks for your help!!!

Gio May 19, 2018 - 9:37 am

Hi Delilah, I wouldn’t use neither. If your pores are getting larger, they’re probably clogged so salicylic acid is the best option here. It can get inside the pores and unclog them.

Saje May 10, 2018 - 3:15 pm

Thanks for the great article! Is it okay to be using both glycolic acid lactic acid in my skin care regimen? I use the glycolic 1-2 nights per week (drunk elephant brand) and then on the other nights I’ve been doing the sunday riley luna oil and the sunday riley lactic acid good genes product. My skin seems fine but it’s only been a couple weeks. Just want to make sure it is okay to have both acids in your routine, albeit not on the same day.

Gio May 19, 2018 - 6:58 am

Saje, if your skin doesn’t complain (and it isn’t) then it’s not wrong. But as Drunk Elephant Glycolic Night serum also contains lactic acid, I’d say that using two expensive exfoliants into your skincare routine is redundant. Drunk Elephant is more than enough.

Allie June 10, 2018 - 12:37 pm

Hi Gio

My beautician gave me both Lactic Acid and Glycolic Acid face cleansers (separate) from Skinstitut and recommended alternating and then using a retinol serum afterwards. Is this going to be too drying, or counteractive? I have very sensitive, cystic acne prone skin but I am not dry – my acne is hormonal. After two nights of this new routine I have broken out so bad! Not sure what to do. Thankyou!

Gio June 16, 2018 - 10:32 am

Allie, both the acids and retinol stimulate cellular turnover, i.e. the skin’s natural exfoliation process. If your skin is acne prone, this can cause purging. Basically, breakouts were already starting to form deep within your skin and these ingredients are bringing them out to the surface sooner.

I’d personally ditch the acid cleansers and replace them with a leave-in salicylic acid exfoliant. Unlike lactic and glycolic, salicylic is oil soluble so it can get inside your pores and remove all the crap that’s clogging them up. It’ll clear up the breakouts you already have faster and prevent new ones from forming.

Nemi August 8, 2018 - 6:44 pm

Many thanks for this informative blog. Helpful. I am currently using Prescription Retinoid @ 0.05% – it’s been 2 weeks. I alternate ordinary vitamin C 23% one night and Vitamin A prescription the other. My skin reacts well as no peeling (yet) or redness etc. I do feel a bit soreness under my eyes ( during the day) but expect this to stop once I get use to either the retinoid or the vitamin C?
I would also like to use Glycolic acid exfoliation that I used (prior to the retinoid) but have read that Glycolic acid can stimulate death cell? Have you read about it?
What are your views?
I have dry skin and my morning routine is
– ordinary / buffet
– ordinary – niacinamide 19%
– ordinary – hyluronic acid 2% + B5
Many thanks

Gio August 16, 2018 - 12:50 pm

Nemi, I experienced the soreness too when I first started using high-dose retinoids. What I did was give my skin one day of rest. So, you can do one day retinoid, one day vit C and one day nothing. Only until your skin has gotten used to them.

No, that’s not a concern. Glycolic acid is a safe ingredient but since you’re already using retinoid and vit C, I’d say either wait until your skin has gotten used to them or use it once a week at night after cleansing and buildup frequency from there.

Julie August 21, 2018 - 2:35 pm

Hi! Just came across your piece on acids…very helpful! I’m having trouble understanding the best times to use the products and which can be used with which. Several different visits to sephora about this have given me totally different answers so I’m a bit confused. Let me start by saying that I have rosacea. I use Sunday Riley’s Luna retinol product, Good Genes, and Skinceutical’s vitamin c and f. Acid. I’m just not sure when to use them all. I’ve been using the Luna at night and then applying the Good genes a few minutes later and then the C in the morning. But the last time I was in Sephora, was told to use the good genes separately from the Luna. Also, can I use these all daily? Thanks for your help and for slogging through my way too long question! Lol

Gio September 7, 2018 - 1:30 pm

Julie, I’d use your vitamin C every morning, Good Genes a couple of nights a week and Luna on days when you don’t use Good Genes. It’s the best and gentlest way to make the most of them.

debbie September 14, 2018 - 12:41 pm

I use retin A at night and vitamin c in the mornings, how should i use glycolic acid in my skin care routine? I have mature skin normal/dry with some fine lines and wrinkles plus some sun damage.

Gio September 15, 2018 - 9:58 am

Debbie, alternate it at night with the retinol.

Cyn November 7, 2018 - 7:34 pm

Hi Gio,
Thank you for this article, very helpful.
I have acne and hyper pigmentation all over. I started using Duac gel during the day and Retin A 0.05% at night. I skip the Retin A 2 times a week and use the nip and fab extreme night pads . Once a week I crush 2 aspirin tabs into my bentonite clay for a salicylic acid mask. It has been 3 weeks and my face is extremely dry. I had to skip nip and fab tonight and applied Ordinary lactic acid 5% . How do I incoperate Vit C serum into my regimen?
Also do you recommend I use Duac gel all over my face or as a spot treatment?

Gio November 10, 2018 - 6:57 pm

Cyn, hold off vitamin C and exfoliation. If your skin is that dry, you need to go back to basic and remove all actives bar the ones you absolutely need. I totally get it that when people hear of how awesome all these ingredients are, they want to use them all. But these ingredients work so well because they’re harsh. You need to give your skin time to get used to them or they’ll destroy it, like it’s happening to you.

So, for the time being, in the morning, cleanse, moisturise and sunscreen. At night, cleanse and moisturize. Every other day, use Retin A in between cleanser and moisturiser. If you have active acne, then use Duac gel on the pimples only.

Once your skin is back to normal and can tolerate this regime, you can think of alternating Retin A with exfoliation and adding vitamin C to the mix. Hope this helps.

Stacey January 10, 2019 - 2:14 am

I make a 20% lactic acid serum that I used each night and would do a 50% lactic acid peel once every other week. I noticed my forehead was never looking quite moisturized and it looked crepey. I stopped using the lactic acid and just stuck with cleansing and moisturising until my became less dry, which at that point I started using vitamin c in the morning and retinol 0.3% at night. The retinol was causing my skin to become too dry, so I stopped using that and now I only use the vitamin c with good results. I still use the 50% lactic acid once every two weeks. My skin is damaged from not wearing sun screen for the past 45 years and intermittent tanning at a salon. I’m looking to even out my complexion, reduce redness, get rid of this forehead creepiness, and make my skin more supple and moisturized. Is that too much to ask for at my age ?. Any suggestions on regimen?

Gio January 19, 2019 - 5:48 pm

Stacey, I understand you want to fix your skin quickly but taking it slow gives you better results. 🙂 Try this skincare routine for a while and see what happens:

Steph March 14, 2019 - 11:56 pm

I started using p50 early this year. What are your thoughts ? I liked it to start with but now don’t see much more improvement and skin seems to have gone backwards. I was using REN one before which I think is lactic (although I do t have sensitive skin at all) and loved that but people rave about p50 so much. Is that a mix of acids? TIA X

Gio March 16, 2019 - 12:00 pm

Steph, yes it is a mixed of acids and the strongest exfoliating formulas from biologie recherché.

Unfortunately, a lot of products skincare fanatics rave about are really harsh. They work wonders for people who have built tolerance to these acids during the years by increase dosage slowly. But for everyone else, they’re a recipe for disaster!

ana t Fiorenzi August 31, 2019 - 1:20 pm

Hi Gio!. I have been using the ordinary line, and it is amazing, but I have some of the peeling bottles from Dr. Gross (resurfacing). What is your opinion about these acids? They are supposed to be used once a week.

Gio September 15, 2019 - 7:21 pm

Ana, I’m not a big fan because they contain essential oils that can irritate skin.


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