Any skincare product that has acid in its name may initially seem intimidating. But don’t be fooled, this naturally-occurring substance has many benefits for the skin.
Glycolic acid, which belongs to the alpha hydroxyl acid (AHA) family, derives from sugar cane, pineapple or sugar beets. Its botanical properties make it a common ingredient in many skin care products.
The ingredient is particularly popular for the face and has recently been a trendy ingredient in many facial washes, cleansers and moisturisers.
Glycolic acid facial cleansers in particular help with exfoliation – clearing the pores of oil, dirt and residue as well as getting rid of dead skin cells. Since it penetrates deep into the pores, glycolic acid can help treat skin conditions and also come with anti-ageing benefits.
They come in a range of different formulations and strengths, but dermatologists swear by the result, then we're in. We’ve picked five of the best cleansers for you to integrate into your beauty routine.
ExfoliKate Cleanser Daily Foaming Wash by Kate Somerville: £32, katesomerville.co.uk
Boasting exotic ingredients such as pineapple, pumpkin and papaya enzyme – the ExfoliKate daily cleanser leaves the skin not only feeling soft and moisturised, but also smelling good.
To put it simply, this fragrant cleanser wakes you up. Once applied, the light green scrub is easy to rinse off with cold water, leaving you with smoother, glowing skin.
We also loved that it doesn't make your face feel overly tight as can be the case with some acid-type cleansers, instead skin is left feeling clean and hydrated.
Over time, our pores became smaller and we had fewer blemishes. Especially great for dry complexions, this cleanser makes your skin feel rejuvenated and new.
3% Glycolic Solutions Facial Cleanser by Peter Thomas Roth: £36.50, Cult Beauty
The Peter Thomas Roth cleanser is good for those with very oily and textured skin. Three per cent is also one of the best concentrates to start with if you have sensitive skin or are new to using glycolic acid products.
The solution is quite powerful, which is why our tester recommends only using it once or twice a week. When applied, the skin starts to tingle slightly, but over continual use this feeling ceases and great results can be seen.
Our testers' skin became less oily, with fewer breakouts and generally looks fresher and brighter too.
Normaderm Daily Deep Cleansing Gel by Vichy: £12, Feel Unique
As the more affordable option of the bunch, the Normaderm gel is perfect for everyday cleansing.
Not too potent, this product is soft and gentle to the skin, so using it regularly isn't a problem. After several week’s use, it leaves the skin radiant and dark blemishes are less prominent.
With pretty packaging, and a practical pump to match – the gel lathers nicely on the skin, replenishing any lost moisture.
Blemish + Age Cleanser by Skinceuticals: £37.00, skinceuticals.co.uk
The Blemish + Age Cleanser by Skinceuticals leaves the skin well cleansed and plump. It is also really good at assisting with taking off makeup residue, as its colourless and somewhat runny consistency lathers nicely on the skin.
Our tester recommends only using a small amount before rinsing it off with water, as a little goes a long way – making the hefty price tag worth it.
The only problem with this cleanser was that the tube seemed to be leaking when our tester first tried it.
Glycolic Acid Foaming Facial Cleanser by Mario Badescu: £14, Beauty Bay
This cleanser is perfect for that deep clean that you can incorporate easily into your beauty routine.
Its consistency allows for gentle exfoliation, leaving the skin a lot smoother. It also isn’t too harsh, making it suitable for all skin types. At a reasonable price, this product is excellent at making the skin feel firmer and healthier.
It does foam, so you only need a small amount for the entire face. It also smells really great, which is always an added bonus.
The Verdict: Best Glycolic Acid Cleansers
The Peter Thomas Roth cleanser is good for those struggling with oily and textured skin. But Kate Somerville is not only the perfect scrub that leaves your skin exfoliated, clean and smelling nice – but its long term results prove successful in getting rid of blackheads, oiliness and darker blemishes.