gluconolactone skincare benefits

How do you exfoliate skin when most acids don’t work for you?

Glycolic acid sets your skin on fire.

Lactic acid dries it out.

Heck, even salicylic acid stings a little…

Enter Gluconolactone. It’s an exfoliating acid so mild, every skin type (yes, even sensitive!) can use it.

Here’s all you need to know about it:

What’s Gluconolactone?

Gluconolactone is derived from gluconic acid, a substance that occurs naturally both in animals and corn. This acid is a member of the Polyhydroxy Acids (PHAs) family.

Like AHAs (think glycolic and lactic acids), PHAs exfoliate skin, leaving it softer and brighter.

Unlike AHAS, Gluconolactone (and all PHAs) isn’t likely to irritate skin. It’s a big molecule, so it doesn’t penetrate skin well. That makes it less effective, but also less irritating.

Related: AHAs VS BHA: Which One Is Right For You?

Does your skin throws a tantrum every time you use a new skincare product? Download your FREE “Skincare Ingredients To Avoid”cheatsheet to find out what the most common culprits are and avoid them:

Gluconolactone Benefits: How Does It Help Skin?

Gluconolactone is best known for its exfoliating benefits. But that’s not the only trick up its sleeve. Here’s everything it does for your skin:

1. Gluconolactone Exfoliates Skin

Let’s start with Gluconolactone’s main job: exfoliation. Like all exfoliating acids, Gluconolactone dissolves the “glue” that holds skin cells together, so they can slough off and reveal the brighter and smoother skin underneath.

Unlike other acids, it doesn’t penetrate skin as well. In skincare, this usually means two things:

  1. It’s a weak exfoliant. It’ll brighten and smoothen your skin, but more slowly than other acids.
  2. It’s gentler on the skin. Glycolic Acid is so irritating because it’s so small, it penetrates skin way more deeply. Not everyone can take that. If your skin is very sensitive, Gluconolactone is the way to go. It’ll slowly exfoliate skin without leaving it all red and raw.

When I say weak exfoliant, I don’t mean worse. One study compared the effects of Glycolic Acid and Gluconolactone after 12 weeks of use.

Both acids worked well at reducing fine lines, roughness, firmness, and pigmentation. There were no significant differences between the two acids here.

But, Glycolic Acid worked better at improving both sallowness and skin plasticity. It was more irritating and likely to cause stinging and burning, too.

Depending on what your concerns are, it’s up to you to decide if Gluconolactone is worth the trade-off.

Related: 10 Reasons Why You Must Exfoliate Your Skin

2. Gluconolactone Hydrates Skin

Gluconolactone is a humectant. That’s a fancy way of saying it hydrates skin.

It works like this: Gluconolactone draws moisture from the deeper layers of the skin and the environment around it and binds it into the uppermost layers that need it the most.

Now that moisture stays on the skin, your complexion is softer and suppler.

AHAs do this, too – but on a smaller level. If you need the extra hydration, Gluconolactone is a better choice for you.

Related: What Are Humectants And Why Do You Need Them Into Your Skincare Routine?

3. Gluconolactoone Helps Neutralise Free Radicals

First things first: Gluconolactone isn’t a traditional antioxidant, like Vitamin C or green tea.

But, there’s some evidence it helps neutralise free radicals caused by UV rays and pollution.

These free radicals speed up the aging process by destroying collagen, elastin, and anything else they find in their wake. Anything that can help neutralise even just a few of them is a welcome addition to your skincare routine.

Related: How Pollution Damages Skin (And What To Do About It)

Who Should Use Gluconolactone?

Everyone can use Gluconolactone. But it’s most suitable for sensitive skin that can’t stand any other acids. If glycolic or lactic irritate you, turn to this.

Related: 3 Ways To Exfoliate Sensitive Skin

How To Use Gluconolactone?

Gluconolactone may be gentle, but that’s not an excuse to use it everyday. Daily exfoliation is NEVER a good idea.

Use Gluconolactone one or two nights a week, straight after cleansing. Don’t forget to moisturise well afterwards.

What Are The Best Skincare Products With Gluconolactone?

  • FaceTheory PolyPep Collagen Boosting Serum S8 (£24.99): Available at FaceTheory
  • The Inkey List PHA Toner (£9.99): Available at Cult Beauty
  • Neostrata Reactive Skin Neutralizing Serum ($78.00): Available at Dermstore

Does Gluconolactone Has Any Side Effects?

Gluconolactone is so gentle, it’s usually well tolerated by people with rosacea and atopic dermatitis.

Having said that, with sensitive skin, you can never be too careful. AlwHow to do a skin patch testays do a patch test first to make sure you’re not allergic to it.

The real risk for most people comes from over-exfoliation. Removing the most superficial layers of skin cells makes skin brighter and smoother. Removing all dead cells leaves it red raw. Use it only a couple of times a week and you’ll be fine.

One more thing: unlike other exfoliants, Gluconolactone does NOT increase sun sensitivity.

Related: 5 Skincare Treatments That Can Damage Skin If Abused

The Bottom Line

If your skin’s too sensitive for most exfoliating acids, try Gluconolactone. Gentler than its cousins, it exfoliates and hydrates skin without leaving it red, flaky, and irritated.