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The best glycolic acids of 2024

best glycolic acid
Kittisak Kaewchalun / Getty

Glycolic acid is a cornerstone in the world of skincare, renowned for its ability to exfoliate, brighten, and smooth the skin. As an alpha hydroxy acid (AHA), glycolic acid is a super popular ingredient in a variety of products thanks to its effective results and extensive research backing its efficacy. Among the number of options available, the QRxLabs Glycolic Acid 20% Resurfacing Pads leads our list of the best glycolic acids of 2024. With their potent concentration of glycolic acid, a balanced pH for optimal effectiveness, and the added benefits of vitamins B5, C, and E, these pads would make a wonderful addition to a skincare routine. And that’s just one of the many incredible glycolic acid products we’ll share in the article.

Best glycolic acids

qrxlabs glycolic acid

QRxLabs Glycolic Acid 20% Resurfacing Pads – Best overall

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Immerse yourself in the transformative experience of QRxLabs’s Glycolic Acid 20% Resurfacing Pads. Saturated with 20% pure glycolic acid, these pads actively exfoliate your skin, diminishing scars, bumps, lines, and wrinkles for skin that feels softer and looks smoother. These also contain a potent combination of vitamins B5, C, and E. These powerful antioxidants don’t just hydrate your skin — they dive deep, repairing photodamage caused by harmful UV rays. Plus, the added allantoin and extracts of green tea and calendula provide further benefits. Allantoin soothes and protects your skin, while the green tea and calendula extracts work in tandem, providing a calming effect and adding a layer of protection.

Each jar comes with 50 professional-grade non-woven textured pads, all designed for easy application. The convenient finger notch makes application super easy. You’ll just remember to complete a small patch test behind the ear or under the chin before using it on your entire face. And if you’re anything like me, you’ll be happy to know that these glycolic acid pads are silicone and paraben-free and aren’t tested on animals.


  • Comes with 50 resurfacing pads
  • Includes other beneficial ingredients
  • Made in an FDA-registered facility in the USA


  • May leave behind a sticky residue
lumiwill glycolic acid

Lumi Will Glycolic Acid Pads 35% – Best for texture

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Lumi Will’s gentle yet effective 35% glycolic acid pads actively exfoliate dead cells and impurities, promoting the emergence of fresh, vibrant skin. Designed as a kinder alternative to salicylic acid pads, our formula ensures hydration and compatibility with all skin types. It also infuses your skin with a rich blend of vitamins E and C that work tirelessly to even your skin tone. These potent antioxidants deeply hydrate, while frequent use helps clear pores, minimize acne, and lessen blackheads.

Abundant in herbal extracts like green tea, witch hazel, menthol, calendula, and essential vitamins, this botanical blend meticulously targets imperfections, supports the reduction of fine lines and wrinkles, and leaves skin feeling soft and smooth. Don’t forget to pair it with sunscreen for daily protection! Crafted with dermatological expertise, these exfoliating pads are also free from parabens, phthalates, alcohol, and GMOs. And as I was reading through reviews, I found that customers really enjoy how soft and smooth it makes their skin feel.


  • Potent concentration of glycolic acid
  • Free from harmful additives
  • Contains several other helpful ingredients


  • Might be too strong for sensitive skin
nuvaderm glycolic acid

NUVADERMIS Exfoliating Glycolic Acid Pads 35% – Best for dark spots

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Driven by a natural-based formula, the NUVADERMIS Exfoliating Glycolic Acid Pads gently yet effectively unclog pores for a radiant, exfoliated, and moisturized complexion. This formula also includes green tea elements to deeply moisturize, nourish, and soothe while thoroughly cleansing your skin. The vitamins C and E complex enriches your skin, smoothing it and shielding it with antioxidant properties.

Skillfully eliminating impurities, these pads can help enhance skin texture across your face, neck, chest, and entire body. It will help tackle fine lines and wrinkles while your skin receives profound nourishment, improved hydration, and a softened appearance. These peel pads serve as a beauty secret suitable for all skin types. Plus, it’s manufactured under the utmost industry standards in a state-of-the-art facility. I was personally impressed that each container includes 60 pads for a fantastic value.


  • Helps brighten even out skin tone
  • Alcohol, paraben, and sulfate-free
  • Has a high concentration of glycolic acid


  • Not strong enough for some users
remedial glycolic acid

REMEDIAL PAX Glycolic Acid Resurfacing Pads 10% – Most gentle

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Acting as a facial exfoliator, dark spot corrector, blackhead remover, and wrinkle serum, the Glycolic Acid Resurfacing Pads 10% from REMEDIAL PAX  brighten and tone your skin for ageless beauty. They efficiently dissolve dead skin cells and unclog pores, eliminating the necessity to scrub. Their glycolic acid concentration balances carefully to provide gentle yet powerful facial care. And you’ll experience a dewy, refreshed look with the moisturizing capacities of our facial exfoliator and hyperpigmentation treatment.

By propelling new cells to the surface, it builds a faultless and radiant complexion. Infused with vitamins and minerals, these deeply nourishing pore cleaner pads comfort and repair damaged skin. It also only uses natural ingredients, so you can feel good about putting it on your face. Plus, I was glad to see that the pads themselves are made of 100% cotton.


  • Made with natural ingredients
  • Includes 60 glycolic acid pads
  • Also contains green tea and vitamins


  • Low concentration could be ineffective for some
nassifmd glycolic acid

NassifMD Glycolic Acid Detox Pads – Best for minimizing pores

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Revitalize your skin complexion with the NassifMD Glycolic Acid Detox Pads. These glycolic acid pads not only work wonders for acne-prone sensitive skin, but they also provide effective solutions to reduce pores. The pads exfoliate your face, gently eradicating dead skin cells and paving the way for brighter, smoother skin. If you are looking for a product that enhances your skin’s smoothness and brightness, these facial scrub pads are a good bet.

They’ll pull out impurities from your skin and promote clarity and radiance.  The added salicylic acid will battle acne and prevent future breakouts. The BHA and AHA pads not only cleanse your skin but also condition and correct it, providing a facial in just one swipe. And with a pack of 60, you can enjoy revitalized skin for two whole months. I also looked over a lot of customer reviews and discovered that users really like how effective it is at clearing pores and making them appear smaller.


  • Effectively removes makeup
  • Also contains lactic and salicylic acids
  • Good option for acne-prone skin


  • On the pricier side
best glycolic acid
Kittisak Kaewchalun / Getty

The ultimate buyer’s guide to glycolic acids

Navigating the world of skincare can be tricky, especially when it comes to active ingredients like glycolic acid. Popular in a host of skincare products, glycolic acid can work wonders on your skin, from reducing wrinkles to clearing up acne. But how do you find the right glycolic acid formulation for you? This guide will walk you through the most important factors to consider so it will be easier to make a decision.

Concentration levels

The concentration level of glycolic acid in a product has a huge impact on its effectiveness. Higher concentration levels provide more noticeable results, but they also come with a greater risk of skin irritation. Usually, beginners should start with products that have lower concentration levels (5% to 10%) to let their skin gradually adjust to the acid.

pH level

The pH level of the glycolic acid you choose plays a crucial role in its performance. Glycolic acid is most effective at a lower pH level (between 3 and 4). Higher pH levels can result in a less effective product. This is why it’s a good idea to check the pH level when selecting a product. Avoid going for products with a too-high or too-low pH level to ensure the product isn’t excessively harsh or too mild for your skin.


The overall formulation of the product matters significantly. While glycolic acid is the star ingredient, the other ingredients present in the product also make a difference. Look for products that contain soothing ingredients like aloe vera, chamomile, or green tea. These can help to minimize potential irritation from the acid. Try to avoid products with alcohol or other potentially drying and irritating ingredients.

Brand reputation

When it comes to skincare products, brand reputation matters a lot. Opt for a reputable brand renowned for its high-quality ingredients. Reputable brands are more likely to follow strict manufacturing processes, ensuring that their products are effective and safe. Do your research, read online reviews, and consider the brand’s transparency about its sourcing and manufacturing processes.


While it is tempting to go for the cheapest option, remember that quality often comes at a price. Higher-priced glycolic acid products often contain higher-quality ingredients and more sophisticated formulations. But this doesn’t mean you need to break the bank. Consider your budget and aim to find the highest-quality product within your price range. But remember, investing in your skin is always money well spent.

Professional recommendation

It’s always beneficial to get a professional opinion before incorporating a new active ingredient into your skincare regimen. Consult with a dermatologist or a skincare specialist about your skin type and concerns. They can provide a tailored recommendation on the right glycolic acid product for your specific needs and tell you what other products would work well alongside it for optimal results.

Common questions about glycolic acids

What is glycolic acid?

Glycolic acid is a type of alpha-hydroxy acid (AHA) that’s derived from sugar cane. It’s commonly used in skincare products for its exfoliating and skin-brightening properties.

How do I use products containing glycolic acid?

Typically, glycolic acid products are applied to the skin after cleansing and before moisturizing. Just be sure to follow the specific instructions provided by the product manufacturer.

Can I use glycolic acid every day?

While lower concentrations of glycolic acid may be safe for daily use, it may still irritate some people, especially those with sensitive skin. It’s often recommended to start with a gentler strength and gradually increase usage as your skin becomes accustomed to the ingredients. But make sure you follow the product directions since some products aren’t designed for daily usage.

Are there any side effects to using glycolic acid?

Possible side effects of glycolic acid include skin irritation, redness, and a mild tingling sensation. If these side effects persist, discontinue use of the product immediately and consult a dermatologist.

Can I use glycolic acid with other skincare products?

Glycolic acid can be used with other skincare products, but caution should be taken when combining it with other active ingredients, such as retinol or other acids, to prevent over-exfoliation and irritation.

How should I store glycolic acid products?

Glycolic acid products should be stored in a cool, dry place out of direct sunlight. Exposure to heat or light can degrade the effectiveness of the acid.

Do glycolic acid products expire?

Yes, like all skincare products, glycolic acid products do have an expiration date. Check the packaging for a specific expiry date.

Courtney Birtcher
Courtney Birtcher merges fitness and fashion expertise with a passion for wellness and style tips.
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