How to Use 15% Glycolic Acid

Glycolic acid works by naturally exfoliating dead skin skills and encouraging new growth 1. Most glycolic acid products, such as serums, facial cleansers, moisturizers, face peels and eye creams, have a concentration of between 3 and 20 percent. Concentrations over 20 percent are generally found in chemical peels, which are a more intensive treatment. Using 15 percent glycolic acid may irritate your skin, so do a test patch before applying it to your entire face.

Wash your face with a mild cleanser that contains no scrubbing beads or other exfoliants. Glycolic acid at 15 percent will react fairly strongly with your skin, so you don’t want to irritate your skin before applying it.

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Rinse your face with warm -- not hot -- water. Your goal is to clean away any make-up or daily dust and oils as gently as possible.

Pat your face dry with a clean towel. Don’t rub your face.

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Apply a small amount of 15 percent gel or mask to your fingertips and massage it into your skin. Avoid getting any near your eyes. Let the product dry naturally on your face. Let the product remain on your face for two to five minutes. Remove with a washcloth dampened with water. Wash your hands thoroughly afterward.

Moisturize your skin every morning with a glycolic acid lotion, recommends the experts at If you have no adverse reaction, you can apply it in the evening, too 2.


Always wear a sunscreen with SPF 15 or higher, because glycolic acid can make your skin more sensitive to UV rays.


Never purchase a glycolic acid kit that has a concentration higher than 30 percent; it could damage your skin.