9 Best Glycolic Acid Serums Of 2024, Esthetician-Recommended

Say goodbye to unwanted dead skin cells and hello to fresh and radiant skin.

Reviewed by Cecelia Wong, Licensed Esthetician Cecelia Wong Cecelia WongLicensed Esthetician facebook_iconinsta_icon
Written by , MA (English Literature), Certified Skin Care Coach Shiboli Chakraborti MA (English Literature), Certified Skin Care Coach linkedin_icon Experience: 4 years
Edited by , MBA, Certified Skin Care Coach Krati Darak MBA, Certified Skin Care Coach linkedin_icon Experience: 3 years
Fact-checked by , Integrated MA Medha Deb Integrated MA linkedin_icon Experience: 5 years
Last Updated on
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Serums are highly concentrated active ingredients that help hydrate your skin deeply, apart from some specific benefits based on their active ingredients. Therefore, the best glycolic acid serums make your skin soft, supple, and radiant. Also, when combined with hyaluronic acid, salicylic acid, and other antioxidants, the effectiveness of these serums on the skin is enhanced multifold. Usually, glycolic acid is a water-soluble acid extracted from sugarcane. It reduces wrinkles, age spots, and acne. It also helps to exfoliate unwanted dead skin cells. Moreover, glycolic acid is the most common type of AHA and addresses many other skin concerns.

This article provides a list of the best glycolic acid serums that can provide you with glowing, flawless skin. Keep scrolling!

Note: Before moving on to high concentrations of glycolic acid, always start with a lower level, say 5% glycolic acid, because it might tingle your skin. In addition, add SPF 30 sunscreen to your skincare routine because sometimes glycolic acid might make your skin photosensitive.

Top PicksCheck Price
Best Overall:QRxLabs Glycolic Acid 30% Gel PeelPrice on AmazonPrice on Walmart
Best Premium:La Roche-Posay Effaclar Pore-Refining Anti-Aging SerumPrice on AmazonPrice on Walmart
Best Drugstore:L'Oreal Paris Revitalift Derm Intensives 10% Pure Glycolic Acid SerumPrice on AmazonPrice on Walmart
Best K-Beauty:Cos De Baha Glycolic Acid 10 AHA SerumPrice on AmazonPrice on Walmart
Best Quick-Absorbing:Measurable Difference Glycolic Acid Anti-Aging And Exfoliator Facial SerumPrice on AmazonPrice on Walmart
Best Lightweight:Laguna Moon Skin Renewal Glycolic Acid SerumPrice on Amazon
Best Hydrating:Advanced Clinicals 10% Glycolic SerumPrice on AmazonPrice on Walmart
Best Anti-Aging:CeraVe Skin Renewing Nightly Exfoliating TreatmentPrice on AmazonPrice on Walmart
Best Overnight Treatment:Nip + Fab Exfoliate Glycolic Fix SerumPrice on AmazonPrice on Walmart

9 Best Glycolic Acid Serums For Soft And Radiant Skin

Best Overall:QRxLabs Glycolic Acid 30% Gel Peel

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4.2
QRxLabs Glycolic Acid 30% Gel Peel Image: Qrxlabs

The QRxLabs Glycolic Acid 30% Gel Peel enhances collagen production and cell renewal, minimizing the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles, and hyperpigmentation. This potent, quick-absorbing serum contains 30% glycolic acid that exfoliates the skin, getting rid of blackheads and acne. The formula, infused with antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anti-bacterial agents like green tea and chamomile, controls sensitivity issues caused by glycolic acid.

Unlike other face peels, this gel peel does not drip down into your eyes or mouth. It has also received numerous positive reviews from users, stating that the product delivers visible results. You can apply it after cleansing using an applicator, keep it on for 1 to 3 minutes and rinse with water. It can be followed with the application of a peptide serum after drying.


Skin Type: All | Product Dimensions: 1 x 1 x 4 inches | Weight: 2.8 Ounces

Pros

  • Quick absorbing
  • Antiaging benefits
  • Supports wrinkle reduction
  • Quick action
  • Silicone-free
  • Paraben-free
  • Fragrance-free

Cons

  • Not beginner-friendly
  • Sticky texture

worth-buy-icon

Why We Think It's Worth Buying

There are more than 1,306 Amazon reviews attesting to the quality of the product and endorsing its value.


La Roche-Posay Effaclar is an anti-aging serum fortified with hyaluronic acid and lipo-hydroxy acid, apart from glycolic acid. This quick-absorbing serum is dermatologically tested to minimize the appearance of pores and wrinkles, tightening, and plumping up the skin. This gentle chemical exfoliation with AHA smoothens your skin texture and evens your skin tone, while lipo-hydroxy acid in the formula acts as a chemical exfoliant and promotes skin renewal. If you have combination skin, the serum addresses both dry and oily areas, providing balanced care. And the selenium-rich La Roche-Posay thermal spring water is effective against acne. The product is also tested for allergies and delivers visible results.

Skin Type: Oily, Acne Prone, Combination | Product Dimensions: 1.39 x 2.17 x 4.29 inches | Weight: 3.17 Ounces

Pros

  • Non-comedogenic
  • Dermatologically tested
  • Dermatologist-recommended
  • Quick absorbing
  • Non-greasy
  • Fragrance-free
  • Paraben-free
  • Oil-free

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Can increase skin sensitivity


Best Drugstore:L'Oreal Paris Revitalift Derm Intensives 10% Pure Glycolic Acid Serum

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4.4
L’Oreal Paris Revitalift Derm Intensives 10% Pure Glycolic Acid Serum Image: L'oreal Paris

L’Oreal Paris Revitalift Derm Intensives 10% Pure Glycolic Acid Serum is a dermatologically tested drugstore product. Glycolic acid in the serum breaks the bond between the dead cells and exfoliates them, exposing the healthier skin underneath. It is infused with humectants like aloe vera and sodium hyaluronate that help manage the dryness caused by AHA. This serum offers antiaging benefits and minimizes the appearance of dark spots and wrinkles, and delivers visible results in two weeks.


Skin Type: All | Product Dimensions: 1.58 x 2.08 x 5.73 inches | Weight: 1.7 Ounces.

Pros

  • Quick absorbing
  • Lightweight
  • Dermatologically tested
  • Budget-friendly
  • Fragrance-free
  • Essential oil-free
  • Paraben-free
  • Dye-free

Cons

  • Sticky

Our Tester's Experience

"This formula transforms my dull skin. It fades my acne scars and reduces the appearance of my wrinkles. I love how lightweight the formula feels on my skin. It moisturizes my skin and smoothes out its texture."


protip_icon Pro Tip
Follow the L’Oreal Paris Revitalift Glycolic Acid Serum with the L’Oreal Paris Revitalift Line Plumping Water Cream to soothe the skin and add an extra layer of hydration.
worth-buy-icon

Why We Think It's Worth Buying

Almost 679 happy users have mentioned the value and quality of this product.

QRxLabs Glycolic Acid 30% Gel Peel
Best Overall
La Roche-Posay Effaclar Pore-Refining Anti-Aging Serum
Best Premium
L'Oreal Paris Revitalift Derm Intensives 10% Pure Glycolic Acid Serum
Best Drugstore
Skin Type All Oily, Acne Prone, Combination All
Dimensions 1 x 1 x 4 inches 1.39 x 2.17 x 4.29 inches 1.58 x 2.08 x 5.73 inches
Weight 2.8 Ounces 3.17 Ounces 1.7 Ounces.
Rating
Reviews1,3061,063679
Price$19.95$31.99$32.34

Best K-Beauty:Cos De Baha Glycolic Acid 10 AHA Serum

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4.2
Cos De Baha Glycolic Acid 10 AHA Serum Image: Cos De Baha

Bring out the lost natural glow of your youth with this 10% glycolic acid serum from Cos De Baha. This brightening serum exfoliates dead skin cells, stimulates collagen production, and improves cell turnover rate for a glowing and youthful complexion. The arginine, propanediol, and aloe vera extracts tame inflamed and irritated skin. Numerous reviewers of the product state that it helps improve the skin texture and delivers visible results.


Skin Type: Normal.

Pros

  • Hydrating formula
  • Quick absorbing
  • Non-sticky texture
  • Budget-friendly

Cons

  • Stings on application
  • Irritates skin

Our Tester's Experience

"This formula removes impurities from my pores and reveals my skin’s natural glow. The formula fades my acne scars and soothes my irritated skin. It absorbs nicely into my skin without leaving greasy residues. I love how smooth my skin feels after I apply this product."



Best Quick-Absorbing:Measurable Difference Glycolic Acid Anti-Aging And Exfoliator Facial Serum

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4.1
Measurable Difference Glycolic Acid Anti-Aging And Exfoliator Facial Serum Image: Measurable Difference

Measurable Difference’s beginner-friendly glycolic acid serum will help you get rid of dead cells, exposing the newer, better skin underneath. It contains 5% glycolic acid that gets easily absorbed by the skin, leaving it bright and radiant. The acid exfoliates dead skin cells and fades acne scars, dark spots, and fine lines. Additional ingredients like aloe vera, squalene, and lactic acid add a dose of hydration to the skin. Take a few drops on your palm and massage it onto your face to refresh and revitalize your skin.


Skin Type: All, Oily, Combination, Dry | Product Dimensions: 0.45 x 1.45 x 3.6 inches | Weight: 1 Ounces

Pros

  • Hydrating
  • Antiaging benefits
  • Quick absorbing
  • Beginner-friendly
  • Budget-friendly

Cons

  • Runny consistency

Our Tester's Experience

"My skin looks refreshed and youthful with the consistent use of this serum. It treats my acne and reduces my hyperpigmented spots. It minimizes the appearance of my pores. The product does not make my skin greasy or clog my pores. The best part is that it improves my skin’s elasticity."



Best Lightweight:Laguna Moon Skin Renewal Glycolic Acid Serum

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4.1
Laguna Moon Skin Renewal Glycolic Acid Serum Image: Laguna Moon

The lightweight Laguna Moon Glycolic Acid Serum gently exfoliates your skin, removes blackheads, and shrinks pore size, allowing you to flaunt radiant and smooth skin. The serum is infused with vitamins C and E, retinol, arbutin, aloe vera, hyaluronic acid, and niacinamide. The retinol along with glycolic acid fades scars, dark spots, fines lines, and wrinkles, while promoting cell turnover rate. Vitamin C brightens your skin, while vitamin E shields your skin from environmental aggressors. The combination of arbutin, aloe vera, hyaluronic acid, and niacinamide hydrates the skin, leaving it soft and smooth.


Skin Type: Sensitive Skin,All Skin Types

Pros

  • Promotes collagen production
  • Non-comedogenic
  • Lightweight
  • Quick absorbing
  • Non-sticky
  • Fragrance-free
  • Alcohol-free
  • Cruelty-free
  • Vegan
  • Alcohol-free
  • Paraben-free

Cons

  • Runny consistency
  • Can sting on application

Our Tester's Experience

"I love how smooth and radiant my skin looks after I apply this serum. It refines my pores and minimizes their appearance. The formula improves my skin’s collagen production and lightens my scars. It gives a dewy finish to my skin and plumps its appearance."


protip_icon Caution
Overuse of the glycolic acid serum may lead to skin irritation with redness, flakes, and itchiness.


Best Hydrating:Advanced Clinicals 10% Glycolic Serum

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4.4
Advanced Clinicals 10% Glycolic Serum Image: Advanced Clinicals

The quick-absorbing Advanced Clinicals 10% Glycolic Serum activates the cell renewal process, giving you immediate results. In 24 hours, your skin becomes clearer and more supple, with lighter fine lines and reduced redness. This overnight serum contains a blend of gentle yet powerful exfoliants like glycolic, salicylic, lactic, and phytic acids that gently remove the dead skin cells and unclog pores.

The glycolic acid clears acne and clear complexion, while the salicylic acid removes dirt and bacteria from the pores. Antioxidant-rich phytic acid combats the free radical damage and helps in supporting pore minimization. The lactic acid enhances collagen production and hydrates the skin. It is also tested for allergies. Apply this serum after using a face wash and toner and follow it with a moisturizer.


Skin Type: All, Oily, Combination, Sensitive, Normal.

Pros

  • Hydrates skin
  • Quick absorbing
  • Sensitive skin-friendly
  • Mild fragrance
  • Dermatologist-tested
  • Comes with money-back guarantee

Cons

  • None


Best Anti-Aging:CeraVe Skin Renewing Nightly Exfoliating Treatment

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4.5
CeraVe Skin Renewing Nightly Exfoliating Treatment Image: Cerave

This overnight face serum gently exfoliates the skin while fading signs of aging and dullness. Glycolic acid and lactic acid gently reduce the appearance of dark spots, pores, and fine lines. Licorice root extract in the formula helps to brighten dull skin, while the hyaluronic acid provides moisturization. The exfoliating serum consists of three essential ceramides that provide anti-aging benefits as well as improve and maintain the skin’s natural moisture barrier, keeping it hydrated and soft. The MVE technology ensures 24 hours of hydration and a radiant complexion. The product is also tested for allergies.


Skin Type: Oily, Combination, Sensitive, Dry, Normal | Product Dimensions: 1.47 x 2.38 x 6.38 inches | Weight: 1.7 Ounces.

Pros

  • Non-comedogenic
  • Quick action
  • Hydrating
  • Quick absorbing
  • Irritation-free
  • Dermatologically tested
  • Paraben-free
  • Fragrance-free

Cons

  • Thick consistency

Our Tester's Experience

"This serum exfoliates my skin and removes dead skin cells from my pores. It strengthens my skin barrier and brightens my skin tone. I love how moisturized and plump my skin looks after I use this product. It also reduces the appearance of my fine lines."



Best Overnight Treatment:Nip + Fab Exfoliate Glycolic Fix Serum

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4.3
Nip + Fab Exfoliate Glycolic Fix Serum Image: Nip + Fab

The fabulous overnight treatment Nip + Fab Exfoliate Glycolic Fix Serum is an extremely gentle formula with 4% glycolic acid. Apply free drops of this serum before hitting the bed at night and wake up with a glowing, radiant face in the morning. The serum exfoliates the dead cells, promotes even skin tone, and minimizes dark spots and hyperpigmentation. Its special pore refining ingredient, PoreAway, shrinks pores and defer acne flares. And antioxidant-rich aloe vera manages redness and irritation and protects the skin from environmental aggressors. According to various reviewers, it delivers visible results.


Skin Type: All | Product Dimensions: 1.46 x 1.46 x 4.17 inches | Weight: 2.4 Ounces

Pros

  • Overnight treatment
  • Beginner-friendly
  • Budget-friendly
  • Antiaging benefits
  • Cruelty-free
  • Gluten-free
  • Paraben-free
  • Silicone-free

Cons

  • Sticky texture

protip_icon Did You Know?
You can also use the glycolic acid serum to remove fake tan from your body with its exfoliating property.

*The prices provided in this article are based on the latest available information. However, they may vary due to changes in pricing by the seller and/or promotional offers.

Glycolic acid is a powerhouse AHA that can tackle various skin problems. It does everything from removing dead skin cells and treating breakouts to minimizing hyperpigmentation and smoothing skin texture. Incorporating a serum with the power of glycolic acid into your skin care routine can amplify its benefits. However, to get maximum benefits from this miracle ingredient, you should add a potent glycolic acid serum to your skincare routine. So, before you go ahead, read our list of tips on choosing the best glycolic acid serums for soft and radiant skin.

How To Choose The Best Glycolic Acid Serums

  • Skin-Type

Knowing your skin type is the first step in choosing a skin care product. Luckily, glycolic acid is the perfect ingredient for all skin types and benefits each one differently. For example, it exfoliates oily skin and controls sebum production and acne formation.

For dry skin type, it resurfaces the top layer of the skin, which is dehydrated and flaky, resulting in soft, radiant, and smoother skin. Although, you should be careful with such a serum for sensitive skin. Make sure to choose a soothing serum to avoid side effects.

  • Concentration

Study the ingredient list to know the concentration of glycolic acid. If you are new to this ingredient, start low and gradually increase the concentration. It can range from as low as 5% all the way up to 70%. Opt for up to 10% glycolic acid to combat wrinkles and visible fine lines and exfoliate dead skin cells. Cecelia Wong, a licensed esthetician, suggests, “Before moving on to high concentrations of glycolic acid, always start with a lower level, say 5% glycolic acid, because it might tingle your skin. In addition, add SPF 30 sunscreen to your skincare routine because sometimes glycolic acid might make your skin photosensitive. Additionally, individuals with darker skin tones are more prone to post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH) or dark spots caused by inflammation or irritation. Therefore, starting with a lower percentage of glycolic acid helps minimize the risk of PIH and ensures a gentler introduction to chemical exfoliation.”

  • Lightweight and Quick-Absorbing

Always opt for non-sticky serums that quickly blend into your skin without making it oily. Also, ensure the consistency is not too runny to avoid it dripping all over the face. Finally, avoid heavy and thick formulas as they do not spread evenly on the skin.

  • Nourishing Formula

Since glycolic acid is an exfoliating acid, it can dry the skin. Therefore, look for formulas with nourishing ingredients like aloe vera, hyaluronic acid, ceramides, and niacinamide. The addition of vitamin C and vitamin E to the ingredient list will give the serum antioxidant properties to shield your skin from environmental aggressors. Licorice root extract in the formula helps to brighten dull skin. Anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial agents like chamomile and green tea help to control sensitivity issues.

  • Toxin-Free

Steer clear of serums with harsh chemicals, parabens, silicones, and alcohol. Instead, choose a dermatologically recommended formula free from artificial fragrances, colors, and dyes.

Glycolic acid can improve your skin tone and texture in more than one way. But this hero exfoliator can slightly tingle or irritate your skin. That’s completely normal. As a rule of thumb, when starting with AHAs, go for as low as 5% and slowly step up the concentration.

What Is Glycolic Acid Serum?

Glycolic acid is a variant of alpha hydroxy acid (AHA) extracted from fruits like sugarcane, pineapple, or beetroots. This acid is keratolytic, which works as an exfoliator to buff-off dead skin cells from the surface. When used as in a serum, it helps fade hyperpigmentation, acne, and blackheads.

Glycolic acid, or alpha-hydroxy acid (AHA), is a hero skin care ingredient with research-backed skin benefits. It peels dead skin, fades sun damage, and does so much more. Always perform a patch test before adding this active ingredient to your skincare routine.

What Does Glycolic Acid Do For Your Face?

Glycolic acid is an excellent exfoliator that peels out dead cells, opens clogged pores, promotes cellular turnover, and promotes collagen production. Apart from that, here are some benefits of glycolic acid.

  1. Work as an antiaging remedy to fade fine lines, wrinkles, and dark spots
  2. Hydrates skin
  3. Lightens hyperpigmentation
  4. Shrinks pores
  5. Brightens skin tone
  6. Plumps up the skin
  7. Prevents breakouts
  8. It makes the skin smooth
  9. Improves skin radiance

The skin care industry is spilling out so many options for glycolic acid that choosing the perfect one for your skin becomes challenging. To help you choose the best Glycolic Acid product, scroll down and consider the following points.

What Should You Look For In Your Glycolic Acid Products?

  1. Concentration: The concentration of glycolic acid could start from 5% and go up to 70%. Start with 5% glycolic acid once in two days, and slowly step up the concentration.
  2. Non-toxic: Try picking up a formula free from dyes, artificial colors, and fragrances. These agents can irritate your skin. A dermatologist-recommended serum would be ideal.
  3. Consistency: It should not be runny, dripping into your eyes and mouth, neither should it be too thick, refusing to spread. Most of the products mentioned above are lightweight and gets easily absorbed into the skin.
  4. Non-Sticky: Non-sticky formula that easily blends with your skin without making it oily are always recommended, especially for oily, acne-prone skin.
  5. Moisturization: Glycolic acid can slightly dry your skin. Go for AHA serums paired with ingredients like hyaluronic acid, squalene, or aloe vera that keeps your skin hydrated and soft.
  6. Reviews: Check out the reviews to learn about the reviewers’ experiences before finally adding the product to the cart.

Infographic: Why You Need A Glycolic Acid Serum In Your Skin Care Routine

If you want to improve your skin’s texture, tone, and overall appearance, glycolic acid is your best friend! This potent ingredient can improve your skin tone and leave it soft, smooth, and radiant. Check out the infographic below to learn more.

Why You Need A Glycolic Acid Serum In Your Skin Care Routine (infographic)

Illustration: StyleCraze Design Team

The Bottom Line

If you want to achieve glowy skin, then you need to incorporate a glycolic acid serum in your skincare routine today! A glycolic acid serum will keep your skin soft and supple while reducing age spots and wrinkles and be the perfect acne treatment as well. It also exfoliates dead skin cells and lightens hyperpigmentation. All the serums reviewed in the list have a quick-absorbing, lightweight, and non-greasy formula free from any harsh chemicals. For instance, the QRxLabs Glycolic Acid 30% Gel Peel is a strong exfoliating product, while the L’Oreal Paris Revitalift Derm Intensives 10% Pure Glycolic Acid Serum offers a balanced concentration suitable for most users. The CeraVe Skin Renewing Nightly Exfoliating Treatment offers a gentler option for sensitive skin with added hydration and support. Some of the serums mentioned in the article are also dermatologist-tested. When choosing the best glycolic acid serum, consider the concentration consistency and thoroughly go through the product reviews. For the best results, add SPF 30 sunscreen to your skincare routine because the activity of glycolic acid might make your skin photosensitive.

Frequently Asked Questions

What percentage of glycolic acid is safe?

Ideally, beginners should start with as low as 5% concentration and slowly move up as the skin gets used to it.

When should I use glycolic acid in my routine?

It is best to use glycolic acid at night, just before going to bed. If you are using it during the day, follow it with a sunscreen with SPF 30 or more before you go out.

Can I use the glycolic acid serum every day?

Yes, it is okay to use a small concentration of glycolic acid every day. Initially, you can use it once in two days.

Who should use glycolic acid?

People with hyperpigmentation, scarring, and premature aging signs can apply glycolic acid on their faces to get clear skin.

When should I use a glycolic acid serum in my routine?

Use a glycolic acid serum along with your evening skin care routine. Apply the product right before applying a moisturizer.

Can pregnant and nursing mothers use glycolic acid?

Yes, pregnant and nursing mothers can use glycolic acid. However, check with your doctor before committing to any product.

Is glycolic acid recommended for sensitive skin?

Yes, many people with sensitive skin can safely use glycolic acid. However, some people with severely sensitive skin may react to glycolic acid. Make sure to conduct a patch test before using the product full-fledged.

How long does glycolic acid serum take to work?

Glycolic acid serums take three to four weeks to show the best results.

Why Trust StyleCraze?

Shiboli Chakraborti is a certified skin care coach who loves to review different skin care products. She went through numerous reviews and feedback on multiple forums and websites to curate a list of the best glycolic acid serums that make your skin soft, supple, and radiant. These glycolic acid serums reduce wrinkles, age spots, and acne. They also help exfoliate unwanted dead skin cells.

Cecelia Wong
Cecelia WongLicensed Esthetician
Cecilia is a licensed esthetician with over 15 years of experience in the beauty industry. She firmly believes that a holistic approach can truly transform the skin and focuses on nourishing the skin at a cellular level to make it healthy from the inside out.

Read full bio of Cecelia Wong