The One Ingredient You Need If You Have Acne

Anyone who has suffered from acne will be familiar with the eternal search for that one miracle cure that will make their spots disappear once and for all. Whether it’s the perfect cleansing routine, the spot cream that actually works, that quirky home remedy you saw mentioned on Facebook…there’s hundreds of products, treatments and crazy at-home methods that all claim to be the one thing that will end your acne woes.

However, as someone who’s had acne in various stages of severity caused from everything including hormones, stress, diet and the environment, I’ve tried more than a few things that promise a quick fix or an end to acne altogether. While some provide temporary improvements, nothing has quite stood the test of time quite as well as one ingredient; glycolic acid.

If you haven’t heard of glycolic acid by now, you’re seriously missing out. Although its name suggests a harsh and intense treatment for your skin, it’s actually been one of the most gently options I’ve tried with pretty much zero side effects.

The Alpha Hydroxy Acid (AHA), naturally occurs in plants although is often created synthetically for modern products. Over use can upset your skin but it’s otherwise a fairly gentle way to exfoliate and leave a brighter, smoother complexion behind.

So how does it help with acne?

By keeping the top layer of your skin clean and free of any dead skin cells, oil or pollution, you’re preventing those things from clogging your pores and creating a pimple. When it comes to deep hormonal acne, glycolic acid has the ability to penetrate the skin to begin to treat the pimple from the inside out. Unlike spot treatments, glycolic acid won’t dry out the top layer of skin leaving your spots unhappy and irritable. Instead, it stimulates the renewal process of your skin cells to help them better fight irregularities like pimples.

While I’d always recommend using glycolic acid as a part of a rounded routine that includes a gentle cleanser, toners, serums and moisturisers, it’s effectiveness makes it one ingredient you really can’t afford to be leaving out. Remember though, your skin will become more sensitive to the sun when you begin using AHAs so be sure to use SPF 50 every day and reapply as necessary.

The great thing about the rise in popularity of glycolic acid is that there’s more than a few ways to incorporate it into your routine…


Peter Thomas Roth 3% Glycolic Solutions Cleanser– Knowing how much my skin loves Peter Thomas Roth products I had high hopes for this cleanser and it did not disappoint. Although the percentage of glycolic acid is less than other products, it’s perfectly formulated to use every day to fight acne and signs of age without drying out or irritating your skin. It’s a gel formula, oil-free and the best thing is, it’s great at removing makeup!

Skinstitut Glycolic Cleanser 12%– If you prefer a cream texture for your cleanser, Skinstitut’s option is for you. Admittedly it took my skin a couple pf washes to really get used to this formula but once it acclimatised, it loved it. It leaves you feeling clean, smooth and decongested. It also contains tea tree oil which is a great antibacterial ingredient that fights acne and prevents more from forming. Just make sure you remove your makeup first because this cleanser is not great for that.


Peter Thomas Roth 8% Glycolic Solutions Toner– Glycolic, lactic and citric acids are bought together with Witchhazel in this powerful toner to help chemically exfoliate your skin while toning and tightening your pores as a preventative measure. It’s really quite gentle on the skin and just one use is enough to leave a glowing complexion. After a few uses I found I had less blackheads around my nose and no pimples has popped up throughout the week.

Mario Badescu Glycolic Acid Toner– If you’re on a budget or just want to dip your toe into the world of glycolic acid, Mario Badescu’s toner is an affordable product that offers a very mild amount of glycolic acid. With just 2% glycolic acid, it’s a great option for people with sensitive skin who are unsure about how they’ll react to stronger products.


Endota New Age Glycolic Exfoliating Cleanser– Although it is both a chemical and physical exfoliant, this cleanser is very nourishing for your skin thanks to the addition of jojoba, avocado and apricot oils and squalane. Both glycolic and lactic acids work to purify your skin while jojoba beads provide the physical element that will lift dry skin for a smooth, texture-free finish. It’s great for acne sufferers who need a boost of nourishment.

Skinstitut Glycolic Scrub 14%– The Glycolic Scrub is a strong product and best for skin that’s been introduced to AHAs before. It gives you both the benefits of glycolic acid’s chemical exfoliation along with a physical exfoliant. If you love to get in and give your face a good scrub, this one’s for you although gentle, circular motions are always best.


Peter Thomas Roth 10% Glycolic Solutions Moisturiser– Another must have from Peter Thomas Roth’s range, this moisturiser is unlike any I’ve tried. You’d expect with such a high percentage of glycolic acid that it wouldn’t be an effective moisturiser but in fact the slow release technology of the acid means dead skin and acne causing nasties are eaten away while your fresh skin underneath is hydrated. It’s a great everyday moisturiser and sits comfortably underneath makeup.

Kate Somerville Exfolikate Glow Moisturiser– Formulated with glycolic and lactic acids as well as fruit enzymes, this moisturiser gently resurfaces while boosting your hydration. It’s great for acne sufferers and a really comfortable wearing consistency.

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