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How to Use Glycolic Acid Peel at Home for the Best Results

how to use glycolic acid peel at home

How can something that sounds so intense be good for your skin?

Well, if you know how to use a glycolic acid peel the right way, it’s nothing like the image we have of Samantha, from Sex and the City, appearing with a face as red as a lobster after receiving a chemical peel (forever branded in our memories).



No, glycolic acid peels are a far cry from that.

If you’re not familiar, glycolic acid is a great exfoliating ingredient that you can find in anything from peels to serums and moisturizers. Plus, you can either make your own natural glycolic acid peel at home or complete a series of treatments with an experienced medical aesthetician.

But, if you do decide to partake the DIY route and you’re wondering how to use a glycolic acid peel at home, it’s best you have the right instructions and tips at hand.

Otherwise, you may over exfoliate by leaving it on too long or using peels too frequently.

If you know how to do a glycolic acid peel the right way, you’ll experience the full range of its benefits. You’ll see improvement in acne scarring and discolouration, along with increasing cellular turnover. You may even get fewer breakouts. That’s because GA’s very small molecules penetrate deep into your skin to clear out oily pores and reveal new, smooth skin.

It’s especially helpful if you’re looking for help with:

  • Dry, dull skin
  • The appearance of fine lines
  • Rough skin texture
  • Clogged pores/acne-prone skin

So, in having a chance to treat these conditions all on your own, here are instructions on how to use glycolic acid peel at home for results.

Note: Results are going to be cumulative, so be patient! Read more about glycolic acid peels here. 



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How to Use Glycolic Acid Peels At Home: Before Tips

For using glycolic acid peels at home, performing a patch test is an absolute must.

If the formulation passes the test, start with a low concentration of GA, typically between 10-20%, especially if it’s your first time. This can’t be emphasized enough! Once your adjusted, the GA concentration can be increased gradually to 30%, eventually topping off at 50%.

But to err on the side of caution, anything higher than 10% glycolic acid should be recommended by your dermatologist, otherwise, there’s a high, high likelihood you’ll damage your delicate acid mantle.

Also important to note, light glycolic acid peels (10-30%) can be done every 2 weeks if you need, where the frequency can be increased once your skin becomes used to it.  

Now, here’s a step by step guide of how to use glycolic acid peel at home for the best results!


How to do a Glycolic Acid Peel at Home: Step-By-Step Directions

  1. Stop using tretinoin-based products for 1 week – this means any products that contain tretinoin, like Retin-A or Differin, at least 1 week before a chemical peel. Avoid shaving or waxing facial hair within 48 hours on the peel area.
  2. This is a PM product. Use in your nighttime skincare routine after you’ve double-cleansed.
  3. Thoroughly cleanse your face. Pat dry.
  4. To determine skin sensitivity, patch test by applying the solution to a small spot on your jawline or under your chin before applying the solution to your entire face. If there’s no reaction after a few days, you’re in the all-clear.
  5. Apply Vaseline to areas where you don’t want the acid to be, like your lips, your eyebrows and the corners of your nose and nostrils.
  6. Apply the glycolic acid solution to a cotton pad or swab and pat gently onto the face starting with the forehead, working your way down to the cheeks and chin. Avoid contact with eye area, ears, and lips! The Vaseline should help with this.
  7. Leave the peel on for 15-30 seconds only.  
  8. Remove/neutralize the acid by thoroughly cleansing the face with water. You can even jump into the shower afterwards if it suits your routine.
  9. Apply a moisturizer. If you’re heading out for the day, apply an SPF as well because your skin will be extra sensitive.
  10. Wait for 24 – 48 hours and closely check for your face for extreme redness or irritation.
  11. Before applying more glycolic acid, wait at least 2 weeks to ensure there isn’t any burning or redness.
  12. Start off using it infrequently using it every other day and increase the dosage when you feel your skin can tolerate it.


GA Peel Tips: Absolute Do’s and Don’ts

To ensure the exfoliation process unfolds smoothly, here’s a list of absolute do’s and don’ts for using glycolic peels at home…

Do: Follow up with sunscreen because the former makes your skin more vulnerable to sun damage.

Don’t: Start out with a solution higher than 10-20%.

Do: Read and follow glycolic acid peel instructions, ensuring you neutralize the solution after 30 seconds with water. Don’t leave it on for too long!

Don’t: Overuse the peel. Start out using it once every 2 weeks before increasing it to every other day.

Do: Stop using physical scrubs (in fact, we’d go as far to say chemical exfoliation should be your only use of exfoliating as it’s less harsh and abrasive on the skin – that is if you follow the instructions to avoid a burn).


Ready to do a Glycolic Acid Peel at Home?

If you follow these glycolic acid peel instructions, you’re not going to know your skin after a month or so…

Acne scars and fine lines should fade. Your skin texture should drastically improve as your new skin cells come to the surface.

Remember, follow the do’s and don’ts because the last thing you (and we) want is to experience a ‘Samantha’ like burn, or even, a reaction across your whole face because you skipped patch testing.

Here’s to rejuvenated skin!

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