My Glycolic Acid Nightmare Experience

So many of you may know about my freak out on Twitter sometime back where I tried a glycolic acid solution on my face and then literally burned it. (Idiotic Renee Moment #9801.) It’s been a little over 3 months and dare I say the scabs, scarring and general woe from it has all finally subsided, so I’m going to write a WARNING post of sorts so that you don’t burn your beautiful faces either!

OK, first and foremost, why did I do it?! Good question. As many of you may know I have always been quite open with the fact that my skin in my high school years were definitely heartbreaking for me – I know of many who’ve had it worse but I think anyone who’s dealt with acne would know that even having “mild” acne really does effect your self esteem and confidence. Especially at that very insecure age that is the teenage years. To cut a long story short, I first started getting zits and the whole works around 14, and I was finally “done” with acne around 19 years old – I started to notice my zits die down at 18 (thanks to my new skincare routine by Clinique) and by 19 dare I say my acne was gone (but not forever, it seems!).

Earlier this May, something happened – I’m not sure whether it was hormones, stress, or if my face wanted to punish me for a laugh, my face started to get little see-through oily ducts. (To this day I don’t even know what they are called!) The picture below, of me at a makeup event shows what I mean (I was getting a trial makeup session so it’s buried under foundation, but you can still see the tiny bumps).

They weren’t too awful in that picture because it was only the beginning – they got much worse after that. My skin felt really rough while I was washing my face and I honestly had no idea why they had come – I remember my forehead being filled with them when I was 15, but they somehow disappeared a year later and I had long forgotten about them. Anyway, I decided to research (um, Google.com) about these bumps and one woman online said that they are the hardest to get rid of, and the only thing that helped her was glycolic acid. Not being an idiot after my disappointing digital hair perm, I researched much more on glycolic acid.

Bottom line, I read all sorts of good things; so once again, I decided to give them a try. But most of all, my decision was made because I remember using a facial cleanser in my acne years that contained 8% glycolic acid and it worked quite well. So off I went to buy the whole line again. The line included an 8% glycolic acid facial cleanser, an acne solution toner with 8% glycolic acid, and I stuck with my go-to moisturizer by Clinique.

I used the whole line, twice a day, morning and night, and it seemed like the little spots were getting better, but then after a week of using it, my skin broke out even worse. It was BAD, I tell you. I should’ve taken a picture; you’d all faint. I’m not joking when I saw I think had 300 little red bumps/whiteheads all over my face. I panicked, but told myself it was only one week and that skincare brands need to take 6 weeks to really work. So I kept going. By week 2, of course, my skin was straight up burnt – my forehead and nose survived the burn, but my cheeks, jawline, and chin looked like a warzone. The pain was so bad I could hardly speak because the skin around my mouth was so tender and sore.

The burn slowly subsided after a week or so, but the acne that formed took a long time to go away. I was so desperate for the zits to clear I went to 2 skin doctors, but um…I’m very stubborn and didn’t want to take their advice because I didn’t really agree with it. (And I didn’t want to take heavy anti-biotic pills.)

Instead, I went back home, face full of zits and decided to give my skin a break and go back to my usual skincare range. Two months later I am happy to reveal the zits, and whatnot have finally subsided down, and my skin looks back to where it was before. And guess what? The tiny oily ducts are nowhere to be found. (UPDATE: Check out this post to see why this was happening, and why the acne cleared.)

Moral of the story? Don’t be so fast to try all sorts of lotions and potions that you read online and when trying a skincare range that have serious acids, take the absolute lowest percentage and do a “patch” test to see how well it goes with your skin. If you’ve had good skin and “something” comes about, don’t go crazy trying to get rid of it and see how it pans out, it might just be a passing thing and subside! But if you do want to do something about it, PLEASE be very careful of what kind of crap you are putting on your face – especially high concentrations of glycolic acid. I’ve heard so many success stories with glycolic acids peels and lotions, but for me it definitely does not work! If all else fails, try it at the hands of a good dermatologist you can trust who can monitor it properly.

Has anyone else had any experiences with glycolic acid? What was your experience like? Please share! :)


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Comments

  1. omg, that sound awful! But i knoww how annoying spots are, at the moment i have one right in the middle of my eyebrows and one underneath my nose, and both are very imflammed because i put this spot treatment on etc. and yeh, so do you have any tips on how to get rid of the redness, or should i just leave them?x

    • Hey Lois!

      Hmm, just leave them alone… for redness putting ice on it helps to calm it down, and I heard calamine lotion really helps too… but my advice is to leave them alone! I’ve learnt my lesson on that one :-P

      • Calamine is cheap and it helps! They work best on those red and big pimples that hurt. I get mine from Guardian in a bottle for 4-5 bucks. It smells kinda like paint (yes, paint) but you’ll get used to it.

  2. You poor thing, that sounds horrendous! Glad it’s all subsided and you’re in the mend now though.

    I’ve been wanting to try a glycolic peel for a while, just to brighten my skin. I’m kind of scared to try it though, especially after reading your experiences!

    • Thanks, Cheryl! I just have those nasty post acne marks to deal with now, it looks like I have red freckles everywhere LOL.

      I’d def be careful with the acid peel… go to someone reputable, and do your research!

      • Oh, and PS. maybe you can try a Vitamin C peel for brightening, I heard that’s really good as well and def not as harsh as glycolic acid!

      • Any acid peels are harsh on your skin. If you’re looking to brighten, then check out The Body Shop’s Vitamin C line. I’ve used it for a few months and definitely does the trick without the harsh chemicals. The salesperson I spoke to gave me samples from that line (skin boost, moisturizer and facial cleansing polish) to try at home. He gave me enough for 5 days and I saw a difference after 2. Best part, if you decide to skip the samples and purchase the products, you have 30 days to return it [if you don't see results or have adverse reactions to it].

  3. Christine says:

    Fantastic post! I am so proud of my best friend doing such honest posts!
    I can be second to testify, from my experience after doing all sorts of outrageous things to my face in my teens, the less you do within your skincake regime is definetly more! Be KIND to your skin and you won’t regret it! I don’t expect people to follow advice given from people who have been there- I know I didn’t, but I am begging you to because I wish I did. Acne will clear up however scarring and enlarged pores aren’t as likely to. Scarring and enlarged pores don’t show up straight away either by the way. Keep skin treatments simple, gentle and sane! Your skin has a way of looking after itself, so don’t interfere with that or there will be trouble.

    • Thanks, C! Lol, we can def write a book on what NOT to do with pimples in your teens… do you still have the scars from those days? I’m pretty lucky that there is no permanent scarring from my teen years but I know what you mean, the scars would stay for a good 6 months before they disappeared for me! :(

      And yes – treat your skin well, I’ve also been putting less crap on it since highchool so I can testify that the less products, the better… I think I just went a little mad when I started seeing those little bumps! Sigh…! Never again, I’ve def learnt my lesson!

  4. I’ve quite similar story with you exept that home-made burning stuff. I had mild acne which for me was really terrible time – I had it on my back and chest. Face was a a bit calmer war zone. I’ve visited 3 skindoctors and the last one was finally helpful. I got Roaccutane pills – very strong medication which made my skin dry like crazy but acne decided to dissapear (I took only 2 pills a day for two months, so nothing too extreme). Plus the doctor added a face tonic made by her own recepie (they mix it together in farmacy just for you). I had really nice picture-perfect skin for very long time. Lately I’ve started to notice those annoying white zits that you mentioned and have on your picture. I’m trying a facewash with salicylic acid in it and moisturizer with tea tree oil. I hope it helps because I already see a tiny change.
    For face scrub I use fresh lemon juice and sugar. Just dip the cottonball into the juice, sprinkle some sugar on it and then start scrubing your face avoiding eye area. It stings a bit (it doesn’t hurt or burn) and after you get bright and soft skin. Occasionally I use mudmask to get rid of any blackheads. Still haven’t found a way to keep my skin less shiny though. :(

    Great tip for red spots is to use ice cube or some anti-redness eyedrops. It takes only the redness away so the spot gets a little less noticable.

    I really don’t understand people who panic about two spots on their nose/chin/whatever because it’s not that big of a deal. What would they do if they had really bad acne and had to walk around with no confidence and spend a lot of money to doctors, medications and skincare products?

    • Hey Sofi, yeah! Anti redness eye-drops help a lot for zits… I wrote about it sometime back, it really works! I think maybe a good scrub might’ve been the answer to those little white bumps… all the best and I hope they disappear for you as well! Let me know how it goes! :)

  5. Rennie – i just made my own blog, thank you so much for inspiring me!!!
    http://le-blog-beaute.blogspot.com/

  6. I get bumps like that when I try a new hairstyle (like bangs) that touches my skin. I have pretty mild acne (just blackheads and a pimple every now and then) so when I get THAT particular acne, I know it’s a product on my face (at least for me!) and not necessarily a hormone thing. I get them when I try a new face wash (i need to accept the one I have, it works) or a new toner. Nothing makes them go away for me but time.

    • Yeah, I remember getting them around my hairline in highschool, the oil from your hair contributes to that, I think! And yes, it seems that time makes it goes away… I was far too impatient this time… Lesson learnt for sure!

  7. I’ve had my headaches with acne products but nothing like this! I get bumps every few months like that around my temples – for me I usually get them when I’m stressed, and nothing seems to work on them except for time and less stress. ;)
    I’m glad to hear you’re feeling better!

    • Thanks, Michaela! Yeah, stress def plays a role in acne though for me when I’m stressed I just get a big cystic pimple, not little bumps… I guess it’s different for everyone. But def stressing less (even though it can be hard!) helps alot with your skin! :)

  8. It looks like the result of clogged pores or something. What did the doctors say? But I’m glad your skin cleared up. The last time I met you, your skin looked fantastic! I had acne issues during that time but I’ve cleared them up too but very very wary of what I use on my skin. I was foolhardy with skin products too but no longer so. Usually we don’t think much of what we use on my skin when it’s very resilient and it’s only when something happens, we start to worry and panic.

    • Hey Sesame, yeah it does look like clogged pores, doesn’t it? The docs just told me I had acne and wanted to give me pills :/ I didn’t agree with them, because how can an outburst suddenly come about, when I hadn’t had it for years?! I also noticed that around the outburst, I kept putting on weight, so my logic was Outburst of zits + Weight gain out of nowhere = something was going on with my hormones… I actually went to see a gynecologist recently who diagnosed me with a condition, which explains these weird symptoms. In conclusion the outburst was actually a sign for something else that was wrong; so even though I hated the whole ordeal (though admittedly I should’ve just gone to the gyne in the first place and not burn myself with the acid!) I’m quite glad my body was telling me something was up…!

  9. Wow, what a skincare war story! So glad it’s settling down now dear. I’ve never used glycolic acid thingies before…after this story, I don’t think I want to either!

    You are right though – getting a great dermatologist is absolutely key – it’s the best skincare investment I’ve ever made! Even though they might take one or two mis-steps with you early on, if you stick with them they can really help you navigate through the crazy skincare jungle, and my oh my, what a jungle it is…

    Stay fab darling girl! XOXOXO :-)

    • Hey Glo! You wouldn’t need to either, I think – your skin is perfection! :)

      And your dermatologist is a genius! I’m actually might be looking for one who does lasers to zap off these post acne red marks – it looks like I have red freckles! I’d wait a while though to let them disappear naturally but if they don’t I’ll be calling your dermatologist, hehe! :-P

  10. I am using Glycolic acid, 12%. I got this from the doctor, Maple Clinic. I intially started with 5%, then 10%, then 12%. I think it is working for my skin although when I first started it, I have stinging sensation. And every time the doctor upgrade the concentration, I always have the stinging feeling. But it got better after a while.

    My acne skincare is pretty comprehensive and all the topical medications are prescribed by the doctor. I try to steer clear of antibiotics too although I succumbed to it 3 months ago when I started to have cystic acne which was hell.

    • Hey Janis, I’m glad you are doing it the ‘right’ way and getting a doctor to monitor you. I can totally relate on the burning sensation, wow it is PAINFUL! :(

      • I wasn’t that painful for me, just more like a short ‘burning’ feeling? It goes away after awhile. Also I sort of liking the sensation because at least I know the medicine is working? Haha. Anyway, I have rather thick skin from all the acne medications I have applied since I was a teenage.

        I’m glad your skin is settling down now! I’m in my mid-20s and I am still acne prone!

  11. Every week I use a 20% glycolic acid lotion before going to sleep (and after clinique’s 2nd step) and never had any problem with it! I used to have some pretty bad acne when I was 15, but with Clinique and glycolic acid my skin is now pimple-free.
    The credit should be given to my dermatologist though. The first time I tried a 8% skincare cleanser + 8% toner my face dried out and after few weeks I had to give it up. Then I changed to the weekly routine and (so far) no complaints…

    • Ah, Clinique is amazing, no?! I love them! :D So glad it works for you and your skin is now pimple free. I’ve def learnt my lesson – I’ll just leave my skin alone! :-P

  12. Christine says:

    Yes we could! I still have scars- though they are slowly fading more with time. You are lucky yours cleared up! :)

  13. May I know which gynae you visited? I think something is up with my hormones as well… :(

  14. I’m sorry you had such a horrible experience with glycolic acid!! I’m glad you have recovered and your skin is okay now! I’ve used it and have never had any adverse reactions, but I’m sure a lot of people do have a bad reaction from it. If I use a product and have a bad reaction, I usually give up on it immediately or within a few days. I think it’s a myth that it’s normal for your skin to get worse before it gets better when using a new product. I had adult acne for several years, and it took so much trial and error to finally cure it. One of the biggest culprits for me was cosmetic acne – makeup and skincare products clogging my pores – even ones that were for acne-prone skin! I’ve also been using a prescription acne cream (Differin), and doing several other things to keep my face clear.

  15. Omg! that’s horrendous! its already heal right?

  16. Sorry to hear that you had such a bad experience with it. I use CE Ferulic from skinceuticals and am very happy with it. I guess that this strong reaction by some people is also the reason that products like ce ferulic only used to be available at dermatologists and other skin professionals. That seems to change with the new cosmeuticals trend, but this is a good lesson that caution is important!

  17. OMG ladies!! What are you doing to your skin?? Please don’t use such harsh products on your skin. Try using pure, safe products based on botanicals, not chemicals, and your skin will see visible results!! I used to suffer with excema and rosacea and then discovered Arbonne. It improved my skin so much, that I now sell it. Our head of research and development has 20 patents against his name and is a genius!! Sometimes some of these products look like they are improving your skin but can actually then make it worse or even age it prematurely by the rubbish in them! Happy to answer any questions on Arbonne if you are interested or just look at my website and see our beneficial ingredients.

    • Glycolic acid is a botanical. It’s a fruit acid. And all a patent means is you can exclude someone else from making your product. Doesn’t make you a genius.

      The glycolic acid you (blogger) is what cleared the bumps but you over did it. You should try listening to your doctors. They are educated about medicine and you clearly need to take Chem 101:

    • Isn’t Arbonne what David Cassidys wife sells? Isn’t she like the president of Arbonne or something? I would NEVER give any money to that has been child star who is still to this day stuck on himself and driving while drunk. I’ve never liked him ever and besides that, I heard Arbonne has made people break out in rashes, so NO thanks to that, got enough trouble with acne don’t need rashes on top of it.

  18. My gawd, I would have been in tears!! What a horrible ordeal. I’m happy you straightened it out. Thanks for your post. I’m sure it will be helpful to many who may contemplate making a switch.

  19. That’s a terrible experience and I can relate on how you feel, getting rid of acne has been a battle for me for years now and it’s really frustrating. Like you, I’d try anything for them to disappear on my face but I’m just glad that I have not experience such scenario.

  20. Hello Renee, I am 27 and currently experiencing a similar skin situation right now. I had average acne and oily skin during my teen days, then when I started the pill, it started to slowly fade out. I have had zits here and there ever since just before my periods but nothing that would bother me all that much. Then a few months ago, nasty pimples decided to set on my skin disregarding the usual before-periods cycle and I started to experience mild rosacea and pimples on my cheeks, parts of my skin which used to be perfect 2 years ago. I haven’t changed my pill since I was 16 and didn’t use any skincare in particular that would have cause that change. After visiting my skin doctor, she advised me a gentle paraben-free cleaner by Bioderma, a zinc-based acne cream by Lysalpha and an anti-biotic called Tetralysal. In about 2 weeks, the results were just about amazing. My skin never looked this smooth, matte and perfect… too good to be true. 3rd week is when tiny white zits popped randomly on my face : chin, nose, eyelids, forehead, cheeks. I thought I was having a reaction to the cream so I stopped it right away… and that’s when my forehead broke out like CRAZY with those tiny oily ducts I’ve never had before. It’s been ongoing for 3 months now and NOTHING I did helped me so far: I changed my pill brand for Jasmin and even invested in an organic skincare line (Suki) famous for their clinically proven results yet I’m still here with those horrible bumps on my forehead. I would love Clinique if only their products were paraben-free… I think that’s weird that one day, my skin started to behave like I was 16 again after 11 years and I have no idea why just like you. I’m going to switch for another pill brand again and try another Suki product that would suit me better than the first day cream I bought (too rich) hoping it’ll work!

  21. Wow, that is a really nasty story, I sometimes think that some of the things we do to make ourselves more beautiful, will turn out to be more of a damage in the long run…
    It’s a strange thing, I got those bumps on my face this spring too. They were all over, some were getting inflamed and hurt a lot(I mean a lot really, even my head was aching), others just stuck there, and nothing could help. I went to a professional face cleaning and the woman said I got half a ton of oil in my pores… Disgusting. It hurt a lot while she was squeezing them out, and a few days afterwards, but it helped and my skin got better. The strange thing is that I don’t know what caused those breakouts. I tried to cut out fats, sugar and what not, I hadn’t changed my skincare routine and I’m on the pill so hormones are out of the question… Whatever it was, I hope it never comes back!

  22. D:
    the skin complaint you had looked like milia, which are like little micro-bumps- i have loads on my face and arms. i’m really sorry about your nasty accident D: maybe try some hardcore exfoliation next time? xoxo

    • Ellie, thanks, I just looked that up in google, but it seems that milia is to be found only around the eyes, which wasn’t my case. At least there’s a skin problem I haven;t suffered from :)

    • Hey Ellie, thanks! Wow this thread has gotten so many comments, I missed so many of them! Yeah, they were like milia seeds but milia seeds are much more harder… I could burst these ones so they were almost like water bumps… really strange! And yeah, I think hardcore exfoliation would’ve done the trick, but that’s why I chose glycolic acid. Bad choice! :-P

  23. Okay :) I do have a suggestion for how to deal with it if it comes up again. As crazy as it sounds; it works. When you wash your face and its still soaking wet with water, rub a little baby oil into them, and let it sink it :) Keep doing this for a few weeks, and they’ll disappear soon enough :) xxxxx

    • Ellie, if they come up again, I would surely try that… Can’t do any harm, but it might work, or at least my skin would be as soft as a baby’s :)

  24. I periodically have the same problem. My beautician told me that they are called comedones. It’s the same thing as a blackhead, only the pore is closed. They are gone because glycolic did it’s job, but you seriously over did it! Percentage could be lower, but it should have been just once a day and just one of the products. I use Vichy Normaderm Nuit for comedones, and it does a nice job, but I threw away the box so I have no idea what ingredient helps.

    • Hey Marija! Nope, the acid never worked, just wrecked my skin. :( My skin eventually cleared up from meds I was taking since I later this was all happening because I had a hormonal problem (I have updated the post with a link if you’d like to check it out – this acne was just the beginning of my PCOS battle!).

  25. I know how it feels Renee. I did the EXACT same thing last month!!! I have this huge burn on my leg (curling iron!) so I decided to try an acid since nothing was working. I went to a coumpounding pharmacy where I know the owners and ask one of them for a acid to clear up the burn on my leg, which it´s red and I have had it for 10 months now!! She said it was dangerous,bla bla bla, 40 minutes later I conviced the woman to give me exactly what I wanted: Retinoic acid 0,03%,Hydroquinone 4%,mandelic acid 5%,kojic acid 3%. BUT she warned me” I never prescribed this to someone with a burn on the leg, so I dont know if it´s going to work, but it does work for your face, many people have used it”. Im very stubborn too so I thought yeah maybe I should try this on my face for 20 minutes, wash it off and see what happens. Nothing happened… 2 days later I wake up and my face is all red and burned!!! my skin started to peel, and it took, like 20 days to get back to normal! It´s REALLY hard to cover your face with foundation and powder when it´s actually burning, and anything you apply it seems to make even more evident (even regular sunscreen)… next time I want a chemical peel I will go to my esthetician, she would kill me If she knew I did that! I have done 2 chemical peels in the past when I used to have cistic acne, but I did with a professional and it was nothing like that. Now Im actually using this damn acid on my leg, it´s working, it´s pretty strong. But everything it´s experience, live and learn! haha acid no more.

    • OMG Deborah haha you poor thing! That sounds horrible… I am glad you have learnt your lesson. I have def learnt my lesson as well haha. NO MORE ACIDS EVER AGAIN!

  26. Oh boy I am going through something similar right now. not the burning my skin part but in high school my skin was bad…then i went on accutane for about 1 month i had to stop as i have high blood pressure or something. but my face was ok not great but it was pretty good. and when i went to mexico for 4 months i barely had to wear make up it was great and its been pretty good ever since. then at 20 i went to guatemala for 9 weeks and my face has never been so clear I literally had no pimples or red marks! but then when I got back probably 2 weeks after I broke out…and bad my face has never been that bad not even in high school…and now its been 6 months and it is still awful! I have no idea what happened why did it go from being so good to soooo terrible so quickly it’s driving me crazy i turn 21 in a few months and my face has never been this bad before…and now I am in Vietnam for 3 months and my make wont even stay something about the weather makes me looks orange and horrible and my hair is frizzy and greasy…sigh its terrible…if anyone has any tips and ideas please tell me!!!..

    ps: if its products…its has to be products available in Vietnam

  27. I am soooo glad i found your blog. I have those things on my face RIGHT NOW and i was becoming really paranoid because everyone i asked never really knew what it was or never really had it!

    I got a Korean skin care set as a gift so i used ‘em. The first couple of days, they seemed to work fine… and then yesterday, my face felt rough and weird… i was so shocked to see hundreds of those nasty little buggers all over my face!

    Do you know of a way to make them disappear faster (fingers crossed) or at least make them less obvious? Thanks! :D

    • Kathy, do you mind sharing what Korean Skin Care brand you’ve used? Because I used one and my skin has bumps overnight! And definitely, I’ve stopped using it and used back my usual products.

      • I used the ones from Etude House (they’re very popular here in my country)

        It was their Pore Minimizing line.

        I’ve tried other Korean Brands like The Face Shop and sadly, i get the same hideous bumps on my face after use.
        :(

  28. Hi

    I’ve the same skin problem with tiny bumps on my face now. But i have not been using products with glycolic acid or at least not of high content. I am wondering what else could be the cause of it?

  29. I gotta say, I am a very vain 38 year old man, so I have always been really heavy into skin care, I am extra cautious because I smoke. I do routine 20% Glycolic acid peels and have never experienced anything this negative. I apply the acid to my face, and my lips with a Q-tip. Keep it wet with acid until the first hint of ‘frost’, yes it is very uncomfortable. Then rinse with plain cold water. My face is flaming red, and uncomfy for the rest of the day. From day #2 until I peel I keep a thin layer of Vaseline on the skin for moisture. When I begin to peel, I stop the Vaseline and let nature take it’s course. Less than a week later, renewed and awesome skin. I do this 4 times a year.
    As I sit here, I am bleaching a tattoo with 70% Glycolic acid, yes it hurt like hell, yes it is flaming red, but I have no bruising, no scarring… It just feels like a bad sunburn. ALWAYS as stated above, use a patch test, please! This stuff is serious and just because you can buy it with an Rx, doesn’t mean it wont scar you for life. This stuff can literally melt your skin from your body! Please, please read those instructions! See a Dr, just be safe!

  30. I just thought I should show everyone what my treated tattoo looks like 3 days after acid application.

    http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.242064679179390.72039.100001275797016&type=1&notif_t=photo_album_comment

  31. I have this right now and I’m freaking out!!
    how long will it be till they go away
    what should i do ?
    =’ [

  32. At the moment I’m breaking out so bad on my forehead and chin (I’m 16) and it’s so painful. I have dry skin though. Acne facewashes make my skin dry, but I’m not sure if my clinique set for dry/combo skin is contributing to the break out?

  33. Hi , sounds to me that you have used to Many products containing alcohol & glycolic together , If u want to use glycolic you should only use it once per day & make sure you are washing it off properly , wearing an SPF & using a hydrating moisturiser , clinique would have Been to drying & this why this has happened , don’t be put off using it again but I would suggest only using it once – twice per week when your skin has healed , try image Skincare as all there products contain either glycol , salysilic or aha’s but all in a controlled environment so the skin accepts them :-)

  34. Hi Renee, thanks for sharing your experience. So glycolic acid isn’t good for the skin particularly on the face? I’m looking for some reliable but affordable natural products for the face ’cause right now, I’m having trouble with those little bumps, too. And, I found this natural product by Sheer Miracle, an AHA natural exfoliating cleanser. However, on the description below, they mentioned that those AHAs occurs naturally in food just like glycolic acid (sugarcane). Anyway, have you heard of Sheer Miracle though? Thanks.

    • Hey Crissy!

      Nope, I believe glycolic acid is OK for the skin – I’ve seen it everywhere in skincare and there are glycolic acid peels… I just think my skin cannot take it, so perhaps do a small test on your chin beforehand? I have used AHA cleansers in the past and they were OK, so I am not sure why my experience this time was so bad. :( I haven’t heard of Sheer Miracle but try to do as much research as you can first. Hope it works out for you! xx

  35. Hi Renee – although it seems like I am a little late writing this message to your nightmare experience, I wanted to share that I also had a similar nightmare experience with glycolic acid (only 2%). After reading great reviews about the Mario Badescu line, I decided to order the Glycolic Acid Toner, thinking it would help clear up some of my minor acne problems. One week after using it, I broke out terribly (cystic and tiny whiteheads all over my forehead and jawline)! I thought it was what they call the “purging” period, so I kept using it for almost 4 weeks. With no clearing in sight, I went to the Nordstrom counter to ask about the product. The woman at the counter told me that glycolic acid is only for dry and more aged skin (I am normal to oily) and that not everyone can/should use it! After years of product experimentation, I’ve found that using the least amount of products on my skin has become one of the best solutions. I invested in the Clarisonic Mia2, Philosophy Purity face wash, Clinique #2 Toner and Philsophy moisturizer and Murad spot treatment if needed. I have found that most of my problems seem to be rooted from not cleaning my face well enough from all the makeup and dirt buildup! And to Crissy above – I’ve read that Mandelic Acid is a much gentler acid. They now use it in the Philosophy micro peels rather than glycolic!

  36. Hey, I tried the glycolic acid 12% cream on my face overnight for just 1 night :( and yet I see numerous tiny oil ducts (like yours in the pic) around my chin and eyebrows. I have no idea what to do with them. My skin is so dry and itchy… What did you do to get rid of all these symptomps? Can I safely apply makeup ? I constantly feel the need to lather myself up with moisturizer (and I do) but I scared it will break me up :( Please help !!

  37. I had a glycolic acid peel this morning. I didn’t even know what it was, I was just booked in for a facial of any sort and we talked about my skin and then she did the acid peel and a vitamin a peel I think it was. Can’t really see results yet, I just know that it didn’t sting at all for me but I’ve come out in really bad breakouts as soon as it happened. I think that’s because all of the bacteria was coming to the surface of the skin? I don’t know.

  38. Sometimes it’s best to experience a slower, more gradual improvement, especially concerning the skin. A good rule of thumb is to only use on type of topical medication at a time, period. Whether that is your cleaner, toner, or your moisturizer. A person’s preferable treatment may be salacylic acid (never did anything for my skin but may work for others), benzoyl peroxide (amazing stuff), or any of the AHA’s. I’m sure your issue was that you used a toner and a moisturizer with the glycolic acid at the same time; therefore, it’s no surprise your skin was burned. I bet you would have had great results with just the toner. I have used a moisturizer w/ 10% and a toner with 10% at separate times, of course, and the toner was LEAPS AND BOUNDS more effective than the moisturizer.

    This is my general regimen:
    Gentle, non-foaming cleanser (no sulfates, fragrance, etc.)
    10% glycolic acid toner used once per day
    SPF 50 mineral sunscreen

    At night, the only thing that changes is an eye cream and a nice, non-active ingredient cream or moisturizer for bedtime. Also, when my skin is clear and smooth, I would only use the toner once every other day and then decrease that as much as possible while still experiencing the results. Then maybe add in a more gentle physical scrub once per week for maintenance.

  39. Hi:)
    This is a really old thread but thought I would put some advice in.
    Glycolic acid can be a wonderful thing but is best suited to a pigmentated sun damaged skin, glycolic works by removing and shedding the surface of the skin. Salycylic however works on a more oily contested skin, this can actually go in to the pores and break down the sebum and nasty things that’s causes congestion and acne.
    I really hate when people are Ill advised as this is what leads to problems, glycolic can be harsh to a skin that doesn’t need it. Rule of thumb only peel a skin that needs to be peeled.
    To keep a skin looking great cleanse, tone vitamin B, C and moisturiser in the morning and in the evening replace your B and C with a A
    Vitamin A is your retinol can only be used at night and helps speed up skin renewal – serum of youth
    Vitamin B is your hyloraunic acid will plump and help retain moisture in the skin
    Vitamin C is your collagen producer and help protect your skin from any further sun damage

    These have all been around for a long time and I recommend anybody to go on them as they produce results.

    Hope this helps:)

  40. I think the thing you did probably did was just to use the stuff intensely morning and night, your skin would react badly to such an active ingredient being put on it all of a sudden with such enthusiasm and in such quantity. Ideally – go see a skincare consultant at a registered clinic (or your doctor) before you start using products like these, they really do know their stuff. I have just started using something with glycolic acid in it – and have been told how to use it – slowly and only once a day at the moment…. then after week one, i can add something else in with an active ingredient – but if my skin reacts – then i need to reign it back in again. Our skin is so precious to us on our faces- we can’t hide it and we all want to look beautiful. I hope you have found another solution to help with your acne.

  41. I am experiencing the same bumps as you have in the picture! Right now I’m using neutrogena blackhead scrub, witch hazel toner, and sunflower oil. But they just won’t go away, some does but new ones appear. How did you get rid of yours and what was the cause?

  42. Hey…I really didn’t experience any bumps but I had a patch on my face permanently burnt..it’s been 1 month and my face (burnt face) still looks the same…I really need help guys. ..any advice please..thanks

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