Many of us here at acne.org have known for years that alpha hydroxy acid helps keep us clearer. Finally, the scientific community is backing us up:

  ... experiments performed by Atzori et al. and by our group showed significant improvement of imflammatory eruptions from the first application."

The Journal of Dermatology. 20121

  ... Patients assess their skin as more tensile, firmer, smoother and more youthful looking after the use of AHA containing products. For mild acne, the efficacy has been proven by double-blinded, placebo-controlled randomized clinical trials."

Journal of the German Dermatological Society. 20122

  ... superficial peeling will hasten the transition of closed comedones to the surface of the epidermis resulting in a quicker clearance of the lesions."

Seminars in Cutaneous Medicine and Surgery. 2008.3

  ... available trials do provide support to the widespread clinical impression that superficial chemical peels have utility in the management of acne and oily skin."

Journal of the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology. 2010.4

  [Hydroxy acids] play an important role in cosmetic formulations, as well as in many dermatologic applications, such as ... acne."

Clinical, Cosmetic and Investigational Dermatology. 2010.5

  Alpha- and beta-hydroxy acid peels both offer successful adjunctive treatment of facial acne vulgaris."

Dermatologic Surgery. 2008.6

  Based on the results of this study, we can state [glycolic acid] and [amino fruit acid] peels are efficacious for comedonal acne."

Journal of Cosmetics and Laser Therapy. 2010.7
...

All over treatment

Glycolic acid can take The Regimen to the next level, helping you to achieve even more reliably clear skin. After you've been on The Regimen for at least 1 month, try using glycolic acid in place of your usual nightly moisturizer every 2-3 days. Alternately, mix an equal amount of glycolic acid and moisturizer in your palm and apply this way every night.

Usage: Use a thin line when applying to the face. More than this and it may sting too much.

Flakiness control: If you are on The Regimen and are having problems with flaky skin, adding in glycolic acid as outlined above will completely eliminate flakes.


Body acne

Body acne

The one-two punch of benzoyl peroxide and glycolic acid works brilliantly at treating the more stubborn skin of the back/body and back of the neck.

Usage: Be generous when treating your body.


Spot treatment

Spot treatment

If you see a zit forming try blasting it with 10% glycolic acid after you have applied 2.5% benzoyl peroxide and allowed it to dry. Many people find that this prevents the zit from maturing. Keep in mind that the way this works best is if you catch it very early.

Usage: Use a tiny amount.


Combatting irritation

Combatting irritation

When anything rubs against the skin repeatedly, such as a chin strap or baseball cap for example, it irritates the skin and can cause a breakout. Attempt to avoid or reduce irritation when possible. If you do end up irritating your skin, you may find that applying glycolic acid after your next Regimen application can help prevent an irritation-induced acne flare up.

Usage: The amount varies depending upon how large of an area is irritated.

How well did alpha hydroxy acid work at stopping zits from enlarging and healing them faster?
Excellent
 1149
Very Good
 1164
Good
 1416
Fair
 736
Poor
 797
Total Votes: 5262 Return to vote

Important notice!

AHA may increase your skin's sensitivity to the sun and particularly the possibility of sunburn. Use a sunscreen and limit sun exposure while using AHA and for a week after discontinuing its use.

Do not use AHA until you have been on The Regimen for 3-4 weeks. It can produce a severe sting if you use it at the onset of a benzoyl peroxide regimen.

Our store

Our store

AHA+: 10% glycolic acid + licochalcone. Available in 6oz. and 16oz. sizes.


  1. Takenaka Y, et al. "Glycolic acid chemical peeling improves inflammatory acne eruptions through its inhibitory and bactericidal effects on Propionibacterium acnes." The Journal of Dermatology. 2012: 39(4): 350-4.
  2. Babilas P, Knie U, and Abels C. "Cosmetic and dermatologic uses of alpha hydroxy acids." Journal of the German Dermatological Society. 2012; 10(7): 488-91.
  3. Kempiak S, Uebelhoer N. "Superficial chemical peels and microdermabrasion for acne vulgaris." Seminars in Cutaneous Medicine and Surgery. 2008; 27(3): 212-220.
  4. Aztori L, at. al. "Glycolic acid peels in the treatment of acne." Journal of the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology. 1999; 12(2): 119-122.
  5. Kornhauser A, Coelho S, Hearing V. "Applications of hydroxy acids: Classifications, mechanisms, and photoactivity." Clinical, Cosmetic and Investigational Dermatology. 2010; 3: 135-214.
  6. Kessler E, et. al. "Comparison of Α- and Β-hydroxy acid chemical peels in the treatment of mild to moderately severe facial acne vulgaris." Dermatologic Surgery. 2008; 34(1): 45-50.
  7. Ilknur T, et. al. "Glycolic acid peels versus amino fruit acid peels for acne." Journal of Cosmetic and Laser Therapy. 2010; 12(5): 242-245.