How to Use Glycolic Acid and Lactic Acid in Skin Care: Benefits and Differences

Unless you are a skincare pro or chemistry professor you are unlikely familiar with all the acids used in skincare. Believe it or not, there are dozen of them, if not more, and they can all do something good for your skin. However, for many using acids as part of their skincare routine is still a bit off-putting. We are here to convince you otherwise. And we have a pretty good reason for it. 


The two most widely used acids in skincare are glycolic and lactic acid. What is the same for both is that they are chemical exfoliants, targeting skin concerns. However, there are some differences too. Read further to discover how you can use them both. 

What is Glycolic Acid?

Let’s start with glycolic acid. If you are active on Instagram following skincare junkies, then you have probably heard them mention it. Glycolic acid is a naturally-occurring acid, derived from sugarcane. It is one of the most popular AHAs used in skincare. 


The role of glycolic acid in skincare is usually connected with age-related skin concerns, such as wrinkles and fine lines. With its smallest molecule size and compared to other alpha hydroxy acids, glycolic acid penetrate deep into your skin. You can expect results like a bright and glowy skin complexion with less visible wrinkles and fine lines. 


Benefits of Glycolic Acid

Glycolic acid gently strips the outer layer of skin where all those dead skin cells live. Moreover, it unclogs the pores, reduces dark patches, fine lines, and acne. All this when you use it a few times a week. 


Some research suggests that usage of topical glycolic acid can encourage the production of hyaluronic acid and collagen in bodies. These benefits, alongside anti-bacterial properties, make glycolic acid very powerful in the treatment of acne and blemishes. 


Glycolic acid doesn't only exfoliate but also hydrate dry skin. It is a humectant - it attracts more water molecules to itself. The result? Perfectly hydrated and healthy skin. 


When To Use Glycolic Acid? 

This is what your skincare routine should look like if you include a glycolic acid exfoliator. Use it in the evening a few times a week. 

  1. Cleanser
  2. Exfoliant - creme, gel, mask, or serum
  3. Toner
  4. Moisturizer
  5. Sunscreen

Photo by Shiny Diamond from Pexels

What is Lactic Acid?

Lactic acid is another AHA acid, widely used in skincare products. It is a natural chemical exfoliant, found in milk. The fun thing about lactic acid is that it naturally occurs in the human body as well as in fermented foods, such as milk, yogurt, soy sauce, beer, etc. 


This type of alpha hydroxy acid is mild and great for people with any skin type. It shows the best results in fighting against premature aging, fine lines, wrinkles, and dryness. 


Benefits of Lactic Acid

There are many benefits of lactic acid, and many people say they noticed major and positive differences on their faces while using it. The acid works on removing dry patches which usually cause your skin to look dull and have fine lines. 


Lactic acid is the most hydrating AHA. Same as glycolic acid, lactic acid is a humectant which means it attracts moisture. Some studies say that lactic acid can be more hydrating than glycerin. 


This AHA fades hyperpigmentation, dark spots, freckles, and acne scars. When you exfoliate with lactic acid, it removes the dark skin cell from the skin’s surface and even the skin tone. 


When you are consistent in using products with lactic acid you will notice that your face is brighter and healthier. That is because lactic acid doesn’t only exfoliate but also stimulates skin cell turnover, which means firmer and smoother skin. 


When to Use Lactic Acid?

This is an option for a skincare routine with lactic acid. You should use it in the evening a few times a week. 

  1. Cleaner
  2. Exfoliant - cream, gel, mask, or serum
  3. Toner
  4. Treatment
  5. Moisturizer
  6. Sunscreen

Photo by Fleur Kaan on Unsplash

What is the Difference Between Them?

As you can see, there is not much difference between glycolic and lactic acid. They are both working great on eliminating the signs of aging, hyperpigmentation, and hydrating the skin. You should know that glycolic acid is suitable for combination, dry, oily, and normal skin types. On the other hand, lactic acid is suitable for all skin types, including sensitive. 


Glycolic acid has a low molecular weight. Meaning, it penetrates the skin better and can work from the inside out. This is why you will maybe notice the results quicker than with lactic acid. Nevertheless, this might also be the reason for your skin to get irritated, so watch out not to over-exfoliate. 


On the other hand, lactic acid has a larger molecule weight, so it can’t penetrate into your skin as deep as glycolic acid. It is considered to be more gentle and therefore suitable for sensitive skin types as well. 


Can you Use them Both in the Same Product?

Short answer: yes, you can! These two acids can be used in the same product. Keep in mind that these products are carefully formulated, so you don’t need to worry about that. Usually, glycolic acid and lactic acid are combined with other ingredients that soothe the skin. Those can be hyaluronic acid, aloe vera, or snail mucin. 


Generally speaking, people with combination, oily, normal, and mature skin types will take this combination perfectly. Meanwhile, people with dry and sensitive skin should just be careful and watch out for the reactions. 


Why we were telling you all this? Because we have made an amazing product that incorporates both glycolic acid and lactic acid. Keep an eye out since we will be launching it soon. Prepare your skin for an exquisite transformation.