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Best Glycolic Peel Over The Counter

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Glycolic peels are an easy way to smooth out your skin, make your pores look smaller, and even out your skin tone. If you’re looking for a deeper peel that leaves your skin feeling more radiant than ever, glycolic peels are the solution.

Before we get into the best glycolic peels over-the-counter, let’s talk about what they do and how they work. Glycolic acid is a natural ingredient that can be found in many foods like citrus fruits and cranberries. It’s also used for many other beauty products, including those used to remove acne or improve the appearance of aging skin.

A glycolic peel uses this ingredient to help remove dead skin cells from the surface of your face or body so that newer, healthier skin can grow underneath them instead. This helps reduce wrinkles by making fine lines less noticeable while also improving overall texture so that it looks smoother and softer than it did before starting treatment with a glycolic peel kit at home!

You may have heard about the benefits of using salicylic acid or retinoids on their own but if you want something stronger without having to go through medical procedures then this is definitely worth trying.

List Of Best Glycolic Peel Over The Counter

Best Overall: Dr. Dennis Gross Alpha Beta Universal Daily Peel

Dr. Dennis Gross Alpha Beta Universal Daily Peel
  • Gentle enough for daily use
  • Two-step effectiveness
  • Contains anti-aging ingredients

What We Don’t Like

  • Pricey

An oldie but a goodie, this holds somewhat of a cult-like status among beauty editors. And it’s easy to see why. It’s both gentle enough that you can use it daily (in fact, that’s its intended use), but contains a long list of proven, effective ingredients.

An at-home take on the uber-popular peels the celeb derm performs in his NYC office, this peel is a two-stepper. The first pad is full of five exfoliating alpha hydroxy acids; the second pad neutralizes the acids and also delivers anti-aging ingredients. Ideal for uneven tone, texture, wrinkles, or pores, this is pretty much peel perfection.

Type: Normal | Active Ingredients: Glycolic Acid, Alpha Hydroxy Acids, Witch Hazel | Size: .07 oz. | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No

Best Budget: Versed The Shortcut Overnight Facial Peel

Versed The Shortcut Overnight Facial Peel
  • Fights dullness
  • pH balanced
  • Dissolves dead skin cells

What We Don’t Like

  • Might not work on sensitive skin

Despite its affordable price tag, this peel packs the same powerful and proven active ingredients as many other pricier peels. Namely a combination of lactic and glycolic acid to help dissolve dead skin cells, and vitamin A, too.

Since the formula is also balanced with skin conditioning allantoin1 and vitamin E and is pH balanced, you don’t have to worry about irritation. Meant to be left on overnight and rinsed in the morning, it soaks into your skin fast, so you don’t have to worry about residue on your pillowcase, either.

Type: Mature | Active Ingredients: Glycolic Acid, Lactic Acid, Vitamin A | Size: .5 or 1 oz. | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: NoGet a Lit-From-Within Glow With Our Favorite 13 Exfoliating Pads

Best Soothing: Drunk Elephant T.L.C. Sukari Babyfacial


T.L.C. Sukari Babyfacial
  • Gives a smooth, elastic feel
  • Gently exfoliating
  • Adds radiance

What We Don’t Like

  • Pricey
  • Pump functionality could be better


Marula oil is a naturally-occurring oil derived from the marula tree. It’s lightweight and non-comedogenic—the specific profile of fatty acids in marula oil is very similar to the oils naturally found in the skin.2

This exfoliator touts a whopping 25% alpha hydroxy and 5% beta hydroxy combo, so you know it means business. It’s powerful, yes, but it also boasts a skin-calming antioxidant blend to balance things out. Plus, it comes with the brand’s virgin marula oil, meant to be applied immediately after for even more soothing and hydrating benefits.

Type: Normal, Oily, Combination, Dry | Active Ingredients: 25% Alpha Hydroxy Acids, 2% BHA/Salicylic Acid | Size: 1.69 oz. | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes

Best Natural: Tata Harper Resurfacing BHA Glow Mask

Tata harper mask
  • Adds radiance and brightness
  • 100% natural
  • Tackles blocked pores and rough skin

What We Don’t Like

  • Pricey

All-natural, this peel mask also happens to be the winner in our 2019 Eco Beauty Awards. The key ingredients are beta hydroxy acid from white willow bark and pomegranate enzymes, though there are also plenty of other plant-based ingredients meant to help refine pores and soften skin, too (and 83% of the ingredients are from organic farming).

The classic way to use it is to leave it on (apply a thick layer) for 20 minutes up to three times a week, though you can also layer it with the brand’s regenerating cleanser for five minutes for a speedier solution.

Type: All | Active Ingredients: BHA from White Willow Bark and Pomegranate Enzymes | Size: 1 oz. | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes

Best for Acne: Savor Beauty Yuzu Lemonade Peel

Savor Beauty Yuzu Lemonade Peel
  • Works in 30 seconds
  • Breaks down pore-clogging oil
  • Fades blemishes

What We Don’t Like

  • Pricey


Lactic acid is an alpha hydroxy acid that works to exfoliate the skin. Its molecule is slightly larger than glycolic acid, meaning it works a bit slower and doesn’t penetrate the skin’s outermost layer as easily.3

Salicylic acid is one of the best blemish-busting ingredients out there, thanks to its ability to break down pore-clogging oil.4 It’s the star of the show here, where it’s also coupled with lactic acid, plus brightening ingredients such as vitamin c and lycopene. The nice thing about that? If you have any dark marks left over from old blemishes, this will help fade those. The citrusy scent (think lemon Italian ice) is a nice touch, and, perhaps best of all, it works in only 30 seconds. 

Type: Oily to Normal | Active Ingredients: 2% Salicylic Acid, PHA, Yuzu Oil, Kakadu Plum | Size: .07 oz. | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes

Best for Wrinkles: Lancer Skincare Caviar Lime Acid Peel

Lancer Caviar Lime Acid Peel
  • Brightens dull skin
  • Smooths skin
  • Adds a glow

What We Don’t Like

  • Pricey

Overview of Best Glycolic Peel Over The Counter

At work here is a 10% concentration of glycolic acid which earns top anti-aging marks not only for its exfoliating capabilities but for also stimulating collagen production,5 the protein responsible for firm, youthful skin. Caviar lime (an Australian fruit) acts another good source of other AHAs, and there’s also retinol in the formula for even more wrinkle-fighting benefits. 

Type: Normal | Active Ingredients: 10% Glycolic Acid, 10% Phytic Acid, Retinol | Size: 1.7 oz. | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No

Glycolic peels are an excellent way to improve the texture and tone of your skin. They can help prevent acne by exfoliating dead skin cells and bacteria, as well as reduce wrinkles and age spots. However, most glycolic peels come with a high price tag at the dermatologist’s office.

If you want to get the same benefits at home, you may be wondering if there are any over-the-counter products that work just as well? In this article we’ll go over what glycolic acid is and how it works, then we’ll look at some of the best glycolic peels available over the counter.

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