Glycolic acid, which is derived from plants such as sugarcane, is an alpha hydroxy acid (AHA). The smallest of the AHA's, it penetrates the skin the most easily, making it very effectual when added to skincare products.
It is used in everything from cleansers to moisturizers to treat concerns like scarring, fine lines, and discoloration. Glycolic acid dissolves the top layer of dead skin cells, uncovering brighter, younger looking skin. It also transports water molecules from the air into the skin, reviving lost moisture.
I've been using glycolic acid as an exfoliating toner for about a year. I love the Pixi Skintreats Glow Tonic, as you might be able to tell from the nearly empty bottle in the photo above. It is very gentle, yet it gives skin a smoother texture. However, it runs about $30 a container, so when Sephora announced it was carrying products by The Ordinary, which is known for being both affordable and effective, I decided to try their version of a glycolic acid toner.
The Ordinary's Glycolic Acid Toning Solution is less than $10, and it's very impressive. After one use, it significantly faded a stubborn acne scar on my cheek. However, after two uses in a row, I woke up with skin that looked somewhat dehydrated, though I hadn't changed any other products in my skincare routine.
The Ordinary's toner has a higher level of glycolic acid than Pixi's, so I'm guessing that it is a little too harsh for my skin to use every night. For now, I will stick with the Pixi version for my daily toner, and maybe incorporate The Ordinary's toner once or twice a week during my bedtime ritual.
You may experience irritation when applying AHA's, so start gradually if you have never used one before. It's also important to wear sunscreen because AHA's make your skin more sensitive to the sun. Be aware that AHA's may have adverse reactions if you are using Accutane, or products containing acids or Vitamin A. Ask your dermatologist if you have any questions.
Let me know if you try any products with glycolic acid! I'd love to hear about your experience.