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Glycolic Acid

Glycolic acid is a synthesized a-hydroxy acid (AHA) found naturally in various foods, especially fruits. Highly soluble in water, odorless, and colorless, this AHA is celebrated in the billion-dollar skin care industry as it makes for a solid ingredient in many anti-aging and skin protection cosmetics and moisturizers. Since glycolic acid is comprised of the smallest molecules of any of the moisturizing acids, it can penetrate small pores more effectively making it a champion in the fight against fine lines, blackheads, oily skin and other problematic skin issues that most everyone seeks to avoid and prevent.


Glycolic acid is widely used throughout the cosmetic and skin care industry and if your doctor approves, your compounding pharmacist can craft this powerful hydroxy acid into various forms for your treatment. From creams to solutions, peels, masks, and moisturizers, glycolic acid is very popular as an ingredient or on its own. As all acids are powerful, no one should use glycolic acid without understanding how to use it and this information is best explained to you by your prescribing primary care doctor. Ask him or her for an overview on your options, usage, and any other questions you might have about glycolic acid. Always follow your doctor's precise directions on usage and schedule of application.


Glycolic acid may cause some unwanted side effects, though often they are mild. Of course if any side effects experienced are becoming severe, worsening, lingering, or simply causing you concern, contact your doctor or seek medical treatment. If you feel the side effects you are experiencing are severe, get emergency medical attention right away. Common side effects seen with glycolic acid are:

  • Itching
  • Redness
  • Skin Irritation
  • Skin Discoloration
  • Swelling


All patients considering the use of glycolic acid should consult with their physician before beginning use. Glycolic acid is a strong acid and while it is regularly used by millions, only your doctor can advise you on whether it is right for you based on a careful evaluation of your medical status.

Glycolic acid is widely considered safe for use in low concentrations of 10% or less by most people, and it is probably safe for pregnancy and breastfeeding women in these low concentrations, but anyone who is pregnant or breastfeeding, or planning a pregnancy or about to begin breastfeeding, should not use glycolic acid until they have consulted with their primary care doctor or OB-GYN.


If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, or planning to become pregnant or begin breastfeeding, do not take the AHA known as malic acid. There is insufficient data on this orally taken acid to ascertain whether or not it is safe for pregnancy or breastfeeding women.


If you have sensitive skin, consult with your doctor before using any AHA such as glycolic acid. In some cases, glycolic acid may irritate sensitive skin and cause skin issues to worsen.

  • "It is rare to find health professionals who are so willing to educate the patient on what they need to know."

    Clair C. | West Hollywood, CA