7 Best Glycolic Facial Cleansers For A Smoother Skin (And Things You should Know)

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Glycolic facial cleansers has been the holy grail and most loved facial cleanser by estheticians and dermatologists, because of it’s beneficials and potentials to the skin. 

Dermatologists highly recommends glycolic acid facial cleansers for individuals with oily and acne prone skin because of it’s ability to penetrate deep down the skin pores break down oil-build up, removes dead skin cells and unclog the pores of impurites and debris which are the main causes of break outs.

So, if you’re seeking for the best glycolic facial cleansers to integrate into your skincare routine then you’re definitely on the right page. But before we go into that, keep reading to know more about glycolic acid.

What Is Glycolic Acid.

Glycolic acid is a great exfoliant, it’s a type of alpha-hydroxy acids which is derived from sugar cane. It penetrates deeply into the skin because of it’s smaller molecules and sheds dead skin cells and other pore-clogging impurities stucked in the pores.

The good thing about glycolic acid is, it has smaller molecules, which enables it penetrates deeper in to the skin to do it’s job.

According to Kenneth Howe, M.D., a dermatologist at Wexler Dermatology in New York City “Of all the AHAs, glycolic is the simplest in structure and the smallest; it has the lowest molecular weight”. That small molecular weight means “it’s easy for it to penetrate your skin and be super effective,” says Alix Shapiro, skin therapist at Heyday in NYC.

Dermatologists recommends that individuals with oily and acne prone skin should go for facial cleansers containing atleast one active acid exfoliating ingredient (on low percentage).

This helps cleanse the pores of excessive oil, dirts and and pore-clogging impurites. And you know what? Glycolic acid is one of the most recommended exfoliating acids for acne and oily skin type because of it’s small molecules which enables it penetrate deeper into the pores, dissolve excess dirt, sebum, and pore-clogging nasties.

This goes down to the importance of knowing your skin type, as it enables you make the best selection of skincare products suitable for your skin.
However, glycolic acid facial cleansers isn’t only meant for acne and oily skin, it’s also suitable for all skin types too. But, if you have a super sensitive skin or extreme dry skin, you should go for products with lower percentage (probably 2-3%).

Skin Benefits Of Glycolic Acid.

It Exfoliates.

Glycolic acid exfoliates both the outer and inner layer of the skin, as it penetrates quickly and deeply into the skin pores, and removes all debris and nasties stucked in there.

Great For Acne Prone Skin.

Because of it’s small molecular weight, glycolic acid penetrate into the pores and breakes down oil buil-up (sebum) and dead skin cells which can result to acne.

Dr. Melda Isaac, a board-certified dermatologist based in Washington, D.C., added that glycolic has the ability to really get down into the hair follicles and loosen up any built-up sebum and proteins that could otherwise lead to blackheads and breakouts.

A Great Anti-Ageing Ingredient.

Asides retinol and hyaluronic acid, glycolic acid also serves great anti-ageing benefits too.
The same dead skin cells that sticks together and clog pores which triggers acne can as well make you look older than your age, making your complexion appear dull, with the visible appearance of wrinkles and fine line.

Glycolic acid being a very effective exfoliant gets rid of dead skin cells by sloughing off rough skin textures, erase fine lines and plump wrinkles, which promotes a brighter and smoother skin texture.

It Enables Your Skin Products Absorbs Better.

Washing your face two times daily, morning and night (mostly at night) will enable your skin care products like retinol and vitamin C serum penetrates better into the skin. Glycolic cleanser prepares the skin, by clearing the skin pores, thereby creating passage for your skincare products to absorb better and do their respective jobs.

So, Whats The Best Percentage Of Glycolic Acid To Use?

Well, it’s interesting to let you know that, not all glycolic acid products (including cleansers) are the same.
Some comes with lower percentage while other comes in higher percentage.

Most facial cleansers are somewhere between 8 to 10 percent.
According to experts the most suitable percentage of glycolic acid for home use would be 8 to10 percent. However, If you haven’t built tolerance to glycolic acid, you should start with concentration lower than 8%.

Things You Should Know While Using A Glycolic Acid Cleanser.

  • Glycolic acid can increase your skin’s sensitivity to the sun, therefore using a sunscreen is a must to keep your skin protected from the harmful UV rays of the sun.
  • It’s also important to know that glycolic acid, as an exfoliator, can slightly dry out the skin. To counter this effective, we recommend you apply a hydrating facial moisturizer.
  • While using glycolic acid cleansers you may also experience a slight tingling (not burning) sensation. Dont be alarmed, This is normal.

Wanna incorporate glycolic acid facial cleanser into your skincare routine? We gat you covered. Our editors has carefully researched and independently picked 7 Best glycolic facial cleansers for smoother and brighter skin.

1. Botanic Tree Glycolic Acid Exfoliating Facial Cleanser.

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This wonderful formula contains 10% Glycolic Acid which helps to alleviate clogged pores, slough away dead skin and brighten a dull-looking complexion.
This organic glycolic acid facial cleansers works great on age spots, dark spots, sun spots and other forms of discoloration while help with acne scars and premature aging.

It combines 10% Glycolic acid, vitamin C, organic bamboo, organic shea butter, organic willow bark, tea tree, seaweed, peppermint and lavender, to deep cleanse and nourishe your skin, keeping your skin pores clean and unclogged.
Users says it works great in removing make-up, gets rid of acne, reduces the appearance of wrinkles, fine lines and brightens complexion.

This product is suitable for all skin types, (especially oily and acne skin), but if you have an extra-dry and super sensitive skin, you may wanna limit usage to 3-4 times weekly until your skin builds tolerance.

Pros

  • Organic formula.
  • Non-comedogenic.
  • Lathers up nicely.
  • Deeply and gently cleanses the skin.
  • Parabens-free, sulfate-free & Cruelty Free,
  • Contains no synthetic frangrace.

Cons

  • May slightly dry out your skin, (use a moisturizer)

Ingredients:

Water, Glucoside, Cocamidopropyl Hydroxysultaine, Cocamidopropyl Betaine, Cocamide MIPA, Disodium Laureth Sulfosuccinate, Disodium Lauryl Sulfosuccinate, Glycolic Acid; Aluminum Oxide; Bamboo (Bamusa Vulgaris) Powder Cocamidopropyl Dimethylamine, Salicylic Acid, Polysorbate 80, Glycerin, Butyrospernum Parkii (Shea Butter) Fruit, Ascorbic Acid, Benzalkonium Chloride, Camellia sinensis Leaf Extract, Isomerized Sa ower Acid, Palmitoyl Tripeptide-5, Anthemis nobilis Flower Extract, Maltodextrin, Cera alba, Silica, Palmitic Acid,Clay, Zinc Sulfate, Fucus vesiculosis (Seaweed) Extract, Phenoxyethanol, Ethylhexlglycerin Salix Alba (Willow) Bark Extract; Hydroxy Ethyl Cellulose; Melaleuca Alternifolia (Tea Tree) Leaf Oil; Mentha Piperita (Peppermint) Oil; Lavandula Angustofolia (Lavender) Oil, Phenoxyethanol and Ethylhexylglycerin
Certified Organic.

2. TOUCH 10% Glycolic Acid Face Wash.

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This is yet another wonderful Glycolic facial cleanser, which contains 10% glycolic acid, in combination with chamomile, green tea, aloe vera, to deep cleanse your skin pores and remove all nasties and debris clogging your pores. Thanks to it’s richness in aloe vera, and chamomile which acts as a soothing anti-inflammatory and anti-irritant and green tea which is the power house of antioxidants. Users says it clears their acne, smoothened and glows their skin.

Although this product says “Non-drying” but we still believe it could slightly dry out your skin, that’s the reason why you should ensure to use a moisturizer immediately after cleansing, to counter the effect.

Pros

  • Oil-free.
  • Lathers up nicely.
  • Non-comedogenic
  • Low Effective pH of 3.5.
  • Deeply and gently cleanses the skin.
  • Parabens-free, sulfate-free & Cruelty Free.
  • Contains no synthetic frangrace.

Cons

  • May slightly dry out your skin, (use a moisturizer).

Ingredients:

Purified Water, Glycolic Acid, Ammonium Glycolate, Glycerin, C12-14 Olefin Sulfonate, Cocamidopropyl Betaine, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice, Guar Hydroxypropyltrimonium Chloride, Camellia Sinensis Leaf Extract, Chamomilla Recutita (Matricaria) Flower Extract, Phenoxyethanol, Ethylhexylglycerin, Fragrance.

3. Dr Song 10% Glycolic Acid Face Wash and Pore Cleanser.

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When you’re talking about best Glycolic facial cleansers, don’t exclude Dr song Glycolic face wash.
This formula also contains 10% glycolic acid which pulls away oils, dirts, and other pore-clogging impurities from the pores. According to users it cleared their acne break outs, diminishes blemishes and tightens their pores.

Pros

  • Oil-free
  • Very affordable.
  • Non-comedogenic.
  • Lathers up nicely.
  • Deeply and gently cleanses the skin.
  • Fragrance-free, Sulfates-free Paraben-free, Allergy tested, 
  • Dermatologist tested.

Cons

  • Pump sometimes fails to work
  • May slightly dry out your skin, (use a moisturizer).

Ingredients:

Purified water, glycolic Acid, carbomer, glycerin. Coco betaine, polyglucose, aloe Vera,, phenoxythanol, sodium hydroxide.

4. Newport Cosmeceuticals 13% Glycolic Acid Exfoliating Face Wash.

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If you’re battling with stubborn and serious acne, coupled with severe premature aging signs such as wrinkles and fine lines, then Newport Cosmeceuticals 13% glycolic acid exfoliating face wash is for you.
This formula contains 13% Glycolic acid, for deeper skin cleansing, gets rid of acne, diminish the appearance of wrinkles & fine lines and gently tightens & firms the skin. This formula is very suitable for oily and acne skin type.
Individuals with Normal/combination skin can use it too. But If you have a super-sensitive or extra-dry skin, I think you should back up, but if you think your skin can take it, ensure to do a patch test first.

This product contains sulfonate, but we want you to know that sulfonate is not a sulfate. Yes, it contains sulfur, but it is not a sulfate. Sulfate = Sulfur-oxygen-carbon chain but sulfonate = sulfur-carbon chain. So this product is completely sulfate-free.

Pros

  • Lathers up nicely.
  • Non-comedogenic.
  • Contains 13% glycolic acid
  • Deeply and gently cleanses the skin.
  • Sulfates-free Paraben-free.
  • Contains no synthetic frangrace.

Cons

  • May not be suitable for extra-dry & sensitive skin.
  • May slightly dry out your skin, (use a moisturizer).

Ingredients:

Deionized Water, C12-14 Olefin Sulfonate, Cocamidopropyl Betaine, Propylene Glycol, Glycolic Acid, Disodium Cocoamphodiacetate, Yucca Extract, Panthenol, Allantoin, Caprylyl Glycol, Potassium Sorbate, Hexylene Glycol, Fragrance.

5. Anthony Glycolic Facial Cleanser.

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If you have an extra-dry or super sensitive skin, then Anthony Glycolic facial cleanser is for you. This formula contains 4.2% Glycolic acid which still deep cleanses the skin pores getting rid of debris and nasties. It mildly exfoliates, by sloughing off rough skin textures and dead skin cells sitting on the top layer of the skin.

Thanks to it’s richness is vitamin A which stimulates production of new skin cells, and vitamin C, a great antioxidants which protects and Improves skin complexion, and also vitamin E which nourishes the skin.
This formula is suitable for all skin types, (including extra-dry and sensitive skin).
But ensure you apply a moisturizer, after use. it’s important.

Pros

  • Lathers up nicely.
  • Non-comedogenic.
  • Suitable for extra-dry & sensitive skin.
  • Deeply and gently cleanses the skin.
  • Sulfates-free Paraben-free.
  • Contains no synthetic frangrace.

Cons

  • Expensive.

Ingredients:

Aqua (Water, Eau), Glycerin, Disodium Cocoamphodiacetate, Glycolic Acid, Cetyl Alcohol, Stearyl Alcohol, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice, Calendula Officinalis Flower Extract, Chamomilla Recutita (Matricaria) Flower Extract, Ascorbic Acid, Retinyl Acetate, Tocopheryl Acetate, Ceteareth-20, Ceteth-2, Parfum (Fragrance), DMDM Hydantoin, Sodium Hydroxide, Iodopropynyl Butylcarbamate, Limonene.

6. InstaNatural Glycolic Acid Facial Cleanser.

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This is yet another mild organic Glycolic facial cleanser in the market. With 2% glycolic combined with lactic acid, cucumber extract, organic chamomile, and green tea extract to mildy exfoliate and cleanse the skin pores, sloughs off dead skin cells, gets rid of acne and reduce the appearance of wrinkle, fine lines, age spot and hyperpigmentation.

This formula is mild and hydrating, very suitable for individuals with extra-dry and sensitive skin. Thanks to cucumber hydrating extracts.

Pros

  • Organic formula
  • Non-comedogenic.
  • Lathers up nicely.
  • Suitable for extra-dry & sensitive skin.
  • Deeply and gently cleanses the skin.
  • Sulfates-free Paraben-free.
  • Contains no synthetic frangrace.

Cons

  • Frangrace maybe overpowering for some.

Ingredients:

Aqua, Decyl Glucoside, Sodium Hydroxypropylsulfonate Laurylglucoside Crosspolymer, Cocamidopropyl Hydroxysultaine, Lauryl Glucoside, Glycolic Acid, Glycerin, Propanediol, Coco-Glucoside, Glyceryl Oleate, Arginine, Cucumis Sativus (Cucumber) Fruit Extract, Chamomilla Recutita (Chamomile) Flower Extract, Camellia Sinensis Leaf Extract, Saccharum Officinarum Extract, Limnanthes Alba (Meadowfoam) Seed Oil, Hesperidin, Rosmarinus Officinalis (Rosemary) Leaf Extract, Centella Asiatica Extract, Hibiscus Rosa-Sinensis Flower Extract, Lactic Acid, Citrus Limon (Lemon) Fruit Extract, Citrus Aurantium Dulcis (Orange) Fruit Extract, Pyrus Malus (Apple) Fruit Extract, Salix Alba (Willow) Bark Extract, Hydrolyzed Jojoba Esters, Tetrasodium Glutamate Diacetate, Sclerotium Gum, Xanthan Gum, Caprylhydroxamic Acid, Glyceryl Caprylate
Certified Organic.

7. Jack Black Deep Dive Glycolic Facial Cleanser.

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This is a glycolic and also a clay-based formula. It combines glycolic acid which penetrates deep into the skin pores to remove dead skin cell and oil build up. Together with Volcanic Ash, packed with revitalizing antioxidants which has natural particles to physically and mildly exfoliate the skin, coupled up with Kaolin Clay, a natural clay that draws out skin impurities, oil and dirt, plus helps control oiliness due to its natural absorption properties and aloe vera extract to sooth and prevent the skin from drying out.

We do not really know the actual percentage of glycolic acid in this product. When the question was asked to the product manufacturers this where their reply

“We do not divulge the percentages of each ingredient in our formulations, as that is confidential and proprietary information. We can assure you that the Glycolic Acid in our Deep Dive Facial Cleanser formula is at a sufficient concentration to be efficacious and provide optimum skin benefits.”

However, this product does the job, by cleansing deeply and mildly exfoliates the skin.

Pros

  • Organic formula
  • Non-comedogenic.
  • Lathers up nicely.
  • Deeply and gently cleanses the skin.
  • Sulfates-free Paraben-free.
  • Contains no artificial frangrace.

Cons

  • Percentage Of glycolic acid not stated.

Ingredients:

Water (Aqua), Kaolin, Glycerin, Sodium Methyl Cocoyl Taurate, Magnesium Aluminum Silicate, Volcanic Ash, Aveena Sativa (Oat) Kernel Meal, Sodium Chloride, Acrylates Copolymer, Glycolic Acid, Arnica Montana (Wolfsbane) Flower Extract, Rosmarinus Officinalis (Rosemary) Leaf Extract, Camellia Sinensis (Green Tea) Leaf Extract, Olea Europaea (Olive) Leaf Extract, Allantoin, Aloe Barbadensis (Aloe Vera) Leaf Juice,  Panthenol, Chamomilla Recutita (Matricaria) Flower Extract, Tocopheryl Acetate, Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seed Oil, Calendula Officinalis (Pot Marigold) Flower Extract, Tocopherol, Disodium Cocoamphodiacetate, Coconut Acid, Phenoxyethanol, Caprylyl Glycol, Sodium Hydroxide, Ethylhexylglycerin, Hexylene Glycol, Epilobium Angustifolium Flower/Leaf/Stem Extract, Tetrahexyldecyl Ascorbate, Chlorphenesin, Sodium Metabisulfite, Benzoic Acid, Sorbic Acid
*Certified Organic

Possible Questions and Answers.

Q: Does glycolic acid cleansers cause irritations?

A: Irrespective of it’s skin benefits, glycolic acid can also cause some mild irritation to the skin. Especially for individuals with super sensitive skin. But if you’ve built tolerance towards glycolic acid you won’t have any problems

But it’s always a good idea to do a patch test before applying the product to your entire face. If you should apply glycolic acid and feel your skin becoming itchy, swollen or turning red, rinse off the product immediately.

Q: Does Glycolic acid cleansers reduce pore size?

A: Glycolic acid cleansers are effective for moving blackheads, whiteheads, and pimples from skin. They also help to reduce pore size. Consistent and repeated use of glycolic acid cleansers has been shown to be effective for moving cystic lesions and acnes scars from skin.

Q: Can kids use glycolic acid cleaners?

A: Yes. But that should be from 11 to 12 year upwards. At a Concentration of 8%.

Q: How often should I use glycolic acid facial cleansers?

A: Like dermatologists would recommend, wash your face twice daily (morning and night). But the best answer to this question is use it as often as you can tolerate it. It all depends on your skin type.

Q: Is glycolic facial cleansers suitable for all skin type?

A: Yes. Individuals with normal, combination, oily & acne, dry and sensitive skin can use glycolic acid cleansers. However like we stated, individuals with super sensitive or extremely dry skin should go for cleansers lower than 8%.

Q: As said, “Glycolic acid facial cleansers can dry out the face, won’t that cause irritations?

A: As far as you apply a moisturizer immediately after using a glycolic facial cleanser, you’ll be just fine.

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