How to Treat Oily Skin With Glycolic Acid Products

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How to Treat Oily Skin With Glycolic Acid Products
Treat Oily Skin With Glycolic Acid Products

One of a number of naturally occurring alpha-hydroxy acids, glycolic acid comes from sugar cane and its use benefits your skin in many ways, including oil control. Glycolic acid removes surface oils and penetrates beyond the surface to clean out blocked pores. There are a number of ways you can use glycolic acid to control oily skin by following these steps.

Skill level:
Moderately Challenging


  1. 1

    Find a daily cleanser, which contains both glycolic acid and salicylic acid. Together, these alpha-hydroxy acids soak up most of your facial skin oil. For daily use, look for a product containing an 8 to 10 percent concentration of glycolic acid. Higher concentrations damage your skin if used daily.

  2. 2

    Follow your daily cleanser with a pore minimizing solution, a sebum control serum or a similar product, containing the same 8 to 10 percent concentration of glycolic acid. These types of products, including oil-free lotions and moisturizers, keep your skin hydrated.

  3. 3

    Switch your cleanser or hydrating product if you experience too much irritation, redness, drying or exfoliation. Some people's skin is too sensitive to glycolic acid and needs a lower concentration such as 3 to 4 percent or a gentler base.

  4. 4

    Try a weekly regimen of glycolic acid peels for up to 6 weeks. These peels, which allow you to choose your glycolic acid concentration up to 50 percent, work effectively to clear up oily skin and acne as well as smooth out fine lines and wrinkles.

Tips and warnings

  • Always follow your application of any glycolic acid product with sunscreen, as it causes sensitivity to sunburn. Choose an oil-free sunscreen.
  • After a glycolic acid peel, your skin may appear reddish and sunburned. Typically, this only lasts a few days.
  • Don't use glycolic acid in conjunction with products containing benzoyl peroxide or vitamin A, except for a mild facial cleanser. Combined, these products increase your chances of skin irritation. Try using them at different times of day.

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