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The 7 Top-Notch Glycolic Acid Serums of 2021

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About four years ago, if anyone had told me I would have any acid serums as part of my skincare routine, I would have laughed so hard and told them they had to be out of their minds. Me! Mess with acids? No, thank you, sir. I still love to have my face all in one piece! To me, acid serums spelled only one word — disaster. Even the names were scary (I mean, doesn’t the word glycolic acid sound a little intimidating?) Unknown to me, all my fears were unfounded and rooted in a lack of information. It wasn’t until I met a hero aesthetician who told me all the fantastic benefits of acid serums and what my skin was missing because of my unfounded fears that I decided to give glycolic acid a try.

Today, I am happy to say that I’m a glycolic acid convert, and I want to share with you the best glycolic acid serums for your skin to get rid of those annoying scars, acne, wrinkles and achieve that extra glow. But first, if you’re a starter, let’s take a look at what glycolic acid is and why you should include it in your skincare regimen.

What is glycolic acid and how does it work?

Glycolic acid is one of the most potent skincare actives, known for its exfoliating effects. It’s a type of alpha hydroxyl acid (AHA) derived from sugarcane, and it’s an all-time favorite for most dermatologists when it comes to fighting breakouts and wrinkles. A powerful exfoliant, glycolic acid contains specific properties that, according to a board-certified dermatologist of the Laser and Skin Surgery Center of New York, Dr. Jessica Krant, help to “separate the connection between skin cells in the outer layers of the skin and promotes exfoliation. In this way, it can speed up cell turnover and bring fresher younger cell to the surface.”

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This acid penetrates deeply into your skin to remove dead skin cells, help make the skin firmer, and restores a more even skin tone by boosting collagen production. In fact, “Glycolic acid stimulates fibroblasts in the dermis to produce increased amounts of collagen,” says Kenneth Howe, MD, a dermatologist at Wexter Dermatology in New York City. One ingredient that does so much! If I’d only knew it before…

Are there any side effects when using glycolic acid serums?

Your skin type plays a considerable role in this matter. A sensitive skin type or a dry one might get easily irritated; this is why, if this is your case, you should do a spot test on a small area of your skin before using it on your face. Also, due to its exfoliating effects, it can make your skin photosensitive, so always apply sunscreen (at least 30 SPF) while using a glycolic acid serum to prevent sun damage. If your skin is not protected against sun rays, you might get the opposite effect and develop sunspots, premature aging, and hyperpigmentation — a BIG no, no.

7 Best AHA Serums with Glycolic Acid

So, either you want to get rid of these annoying scars, fight acne or reduce wrinkles, these are the best glycolic acid serums you can choose from right now. Enjoy!


Murad Environmental Shield Serum

1. Murad Environmental Shield Serum

It’s true that every glycolic acid serum brightens to some degree, but this particular product is in a class of its own when it comes to giving your skin that revitalizing glow. Suitable for all skin types, this powerhouse serum has proven to be useful also in hydrating the skin and smoothening out wrinkles thanks to the rice and yeast amino acids, peptides, and castor oil addition. It reduces the layers of dead skin cells, often the culprits of acne, blackheads, and dark spots. Plus, the patented resorcinol technology and tranexamic acid work together to soothe, even out tone and brighten — revive that dull skin with Murad Correcting serum.


ISDIN Night Peel Glycolic Acid Serum

2. ISDIN Night Peel Glycolic Acid Serum

If you are in search of a glycolic acid serum that deeply hydrates the skin, supporting and improving the function of the moisture barrier and stimulating exfoliation in superficial skin cells, this product is for you. It has a proven track record of reducing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles with its hydrating properties — thanks to the tartaric acid — to reveal a softer and more radiant complexion. While the malic acid and the glycolic acid will help remove a buildup of dead cells, vitamin C will act as an antioxidant, protecting against free radicals damage. Found in ampoules, this serum is pretty powerful, providing your skin with highly concentrated active ingredients — it’s that quick help your skin needs.


Sesderma Aglicolic Facial Liposomal Serum

3. Sesderma Aglicolic Facial Liposomal Serum 

A must-have if you want to stay forever young and have that perfect skin. It is a versatile, all-rounder anti-aging product that hydrates, moisturizes, boosts cell renewal, and banishes fine lines and wrinkles with multiple types of ceramides and hyaluronic acid. It also includes antioxidants — vit C and soybean seed extract — that have skin regenerating and protective roles. So if you have been fighting a losing battle with hyperpigmentation and other skin woes caused by free radicals, it’s time to introduce this serum into your skincare routine. 


Bliss Renew and Smooth Night Serum

4. Bliss Renew and Smooth Night Serum 

This gentle but super effective resurfacing night serum is a superhero product that visibly transforms dull and wrinkled skin to become brighter and smoother overnight. It contains a unique blend of glycolic acid, fruit acids, and polyhydroxy acids to gently exfoliate dead skin cells and retain sufficient skin moisture without causing any skin irritation. Squalane, vitamin C, and a rich blend of botanical extracts will leave your skin protected and hydrated at once. Lots of people recommend it for its effectiveness in treating large skin pores, fading acne scars, and improving the overall skin texture in just a matter of days! 


Pixi Beauty Skintreats Glow Tonic Serum

5. Pixi Beauty Skintreats Glow Tonic Serum

A delicate daily defoliant that works wonders for dry skin types. It plumps the skin and even out skin tones while gently soothing skin inflammations, acne, and breakouts. For well purified and naturally glowing skin, this product should be included in your skincare regimen. It boosts your natural luminosity and infuses the skin with beneficial nutrients, such as cucumber fruit extract, aloe leaf, vitamin C, and arginine needed to achieve a balanced complexion, restore radiance and defend against free radicals. Armed with the Pixi Glow Tonic Serum, you can finally say goodbye to hyperpigmentation, blackheads, fine lines, and wrinkles.


Cos De BAHA Glycolic Acid 10% Serum

6. Cos De BAHA Glycolic Acid 10% Serum

If you’re into natural skincare, you should know that this glycolic acid serum is made with 78% organic ingredients! Presuming you’re fighting acne, hyperpigmentation, dull skin, or uneven skin tone, this facial peel serum provides a one-time solution to all these problems. Rich in ingredients like glycolic, aloe leaf extract, arginine, and propanediol, it helps to smoothen scars, improve skin elasticity, remove dead skin cells and enhance skin hydration. And it’s so, so affordable!


QRxLabs Glycolic Acid Renewal Serum

7. QRxLabs Glycolic Acid Renewal Serum 

Have you got some stubborn sunspots that don’t seem to budge no matter what facial peels you use? Or you want a skincare product that’s completely free of artificial fragrances, coloring ingredients and guarantees healthier-looking skin? This serum might be that one! With a unique combination of AHAs (glycolic, lactic, citric, malic, and tartaric acids from natural sources), it proved to significantly fade dark sunspots, reduce signs of premature aging and refine that uniform skin tone you’ve always wanted.


To end

Irritation and redness can be side effects of using glycolic acid serums. Always approach each new product with patience and caution, do a spot test in a small area of your skin to determine how well your skin tolerates it before slathering it on your face. Most importantly, remember to wear sunscreen while using glycolic acid serums as they make your skin sensitive to sunlight. If your skin is not protected against sun rays, you might get the opposite effect and develop more sunspots and hyperpigmentation — I know you don’t want that..


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