Which Acid is right for You – Glycolic, Lactic, or Salicylic Acid?

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Glycolic, lactic, and salicylic acid are three of the most common acids used in modern skincare. But they are not the same, nor do they affect your skin in the same ways. At [re]Fresh, we know how important skincare is and how important it is to use the right ingredients to meet your skincare needs.

Glycolic Acid

Glycolic acid is one of the most effective Alpha-Hydroxy-Acids, and is most effective against fine lines and encroaching wrinkles. It’s something that is on some level is already in your skin, so when it’s absorbed, it helps to boost natural collagen production and make your skin look smother and younger. It has a similar benefit to salicylic acid as well; glycolic acid is good for treating more severe cases of acne.


Be wary of glycolic acid, however, if you’re going to be in the sun a lot it’s best to limit your use.

Lactic Acid

Glycolic and Lactic acids are very similar in composition for example, but have slightly different effects. Quite often, they’re even used together. Lactic Acids work well with glycolic acid because it helps to pull moisture into your skin as the glycolic acid boosts your collagen.


Lactic acid is actually less abrasive than glycolic acid, and can be used in much higher concentrations. Lactic acid is a great complement to both glycolic and salicylic acids.


Salicylic Acid

Salicylic acid is different from both lactic acid and glycolic acid in that instead of encouraging growth and moisture, it strips away the top and dead layers of your skin and can help unclog pores. This is really beneficial for helping to treat mild acne. Shedding the top layers of skin help to boost your skins natural regrowth cycle. Keep in mind that any preparations containing Salicylic acid must also contain some type of alcohol (it is only soluble in alcohol), and therefore can be drying to some skin types.


The downside to salicylic acid is that it dehydrates your skin quite a bit. That’s why it’s most effective when paired with lactic acids.