Glycolic Acid vs. Lactic Acid

People use chemical peels to get rid of many skin flaws including aging signs.  Different chemical peels are available with varying strengths.  Results of chemical peels differ, which also depend on the concentration used and type of skin treated.

Glycolic acid and lactic acid are two mild types of acids used by many people to fight different skin irregularities.  Both acids, glycolic and lactic, belong to the milder group of alpha hydroxy acids group commonly known as AHAs.  Alpha hydroxy acids are derived from fruit acids.  In this article, we are discussing glycolic acid vs. lactic acid information for the benefit of the users who can decide easily which acid to go for.  Glycolic acid vs. lactic acid comparison is addressed briefly in the following lines.

Nature of Glycolic and Lactic Acids

Glycolic acid is derived from sugar cane, which has small molecules that can penetrate the skin well.  Contrary to that, lactic acid is made from sour milk and it is milder than glycolic acid in nature.

How Glycolic and Lactic Acids Work

After a lactic acid peel is applied, the acid penetrates the skin and help to kill bacteria and germs.  It also reduces the bonds that hold dead skin cells together, this leads to a reduction in age spots.  Glycolic acid also removes dead skin cells but due to its nature, it penetrates deeper than lactic acid.  It has the ability to reach the dermis, the skin layer underneath the epidermis.  Glycolic acid’s application tightens the skin since its application stimulates collagen production.

When we talk about glycolic acid vs. lactic acid, we come to know that the penetration and exfoliating properties of both acids depend on the strength or concentration used in peeling. Experts recommend 10 to 30% concentration of the acids for those who are new to peeling or who have sensitive skin.   Such a range of concentration is considered mild and it produces results without negatively affecting the skin.  People with normal skin and with some peeling experience can go for higher concentration, 40% to 50%.

Glycolic Acid vs. Lactic Acid, Uses

Glycolic acid is used to treat conditions like dark spots, skin scars, acne, wrinkles, large pores, oily skin, and fine lines.  Lactic acid is used for dark spots, sagging areas of the skin, wrinkles, and rosacea.


If you are suffering from wrinkling skin or acne, you can go for glycolic acid that has the ability to penetrate deeper than lactic acid and treats such flaws satisfactorily.  In case you have sensitive skin and find glycolic acid too harsh, then you should go for lactic acid that may not cause you irritation of the skin.  Moreover, in case of having skin condition like rosacea, when the skin becomes red, you should go for lactic acid too.   Unlike lactic acid, using glycolic acid on skin with rosacea can worsen the condition.

To get the benefits of lactic acid as a moisturizer, you can apply whole milk to the skin.  It works well as a light moisturizer.  The use of lactic acid is relatively safer than glycolic acid but when the skin conditions require so, you can use glycolic acid and if you follow the instructions carefully, you can get good results.

Any topically applied acid can make the skin sensitive.  When you go out after the treatment in the sun, the skin becomes redder.  It is, therefore, highly advisable to wear a sunscreen whenever you go out in the sun.  You have to take many post-peeling precautions to get the best results and to avoid any undesirable results.  You should follow the instructions carefully for best results.

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