How to Apply Glycolic Exfoliants [ Epi #490]

The single most important therapeutic skincare treatment is daily glycolic exfoliation. It enables you to achieve more beautiful, healthier and younger looking skin. However, do you know how to properly apply glycolic exfoliants? In this episode of DermTV, Dr. Schultz demonstrates how to apply glycolic acid.

Subscribe to DermTV:

Connect with DermTV:


If you’re a fan of DermTV, then you already know the importance of regular glycolic exfoliation for more beautiful, healthier and younger looking skin. As a matter of fact, it’s the single most important treatment you can do. But how do you actually apply your glycolic?

I’m happy to tell you that applying glycolic products is no different than applying any other simple skincare product.

First, as with any active ingredient, to get its full benefit you must prep your skin with an oil and water, skin type appropriate cleanser and toner to remove all of the potential impediments to absorption. Your cleanser and toner will synergize to remove excess oils, dirt, debris and loose dead cells. And after finishing wiping with your toner, give it half a minute to completely evaporate, or take a soft cotton ball and gently remove any excess.

You’re now ready to apply your glycolic!

If you’re using a glycolic serum or gel, apply just a few drops with your finger to each side of your face and spread them all over, avoiding the eye area.

If using glycolic pads, gently wipe your entire face, always avoiding the eye area.

If you have a glycolic cream, put a pea sized amount in your palm and with a finger from your other hand dab tiny bits all over your face, again avoiding your eye area and then spread it around.

I recommend using glycolic at bedtime. And it should be the first product applied after you cleanse and tone… With one exception: if you’re using a blemish spot treatment and a glycolic in a cream vehicle, apply the spot treatment first.

Your glycolic treatment shouldn’t be irritating or cause your skin to turn red. The right glycolics are gentle yet effective. They may tingle for 10 seconds… which is normal… but the tingling shouldn’t increase and there shouldn’t be any burning. If there is, wash your face with water, which immediately neutralizes the glycolic.

Finally, as with most skincare, remember that less is more. Once applied, your glycolic should dry and set in less than thirty seconds. If not, you’ve used too much, tissue off the excess and next time use less.

So for more beautiful skin… it’s so easy to exfoliate regularly.


Everyone can have beautiful, healthy, and younger looking skin, and DermTV, the Internet’s daily skincare video show, will demonstrate how by revealing expert tips and techniques and by providing real solutions for real skincare issues.

Skincare (whether cosmetic or medical) previously required a trip to your dermatologist or a shopping spree at the pharmacy. And that’s if you have a trusted nearby dermatologist or a local informed pharmacy. But not anymore. We at DermTV are committed to making best-in-class dermatology and skincare guidance accessible to everyone, anytime, at your computer.

Every weekday, our host, Dr. Neal Schultz, one of New York’s most trusted and respected dermatologists, teaches skincare’s most timely and timeless issues. Topics include: the best at home techniques and new technology for facial rejuvenation, preventing and fixing sun damage from wrinkles to skin cancer, breaking news in dermatology, general skincare topics, and more.


dermTVdotcom says:

It may be that you are using the wrong vehicle for your skin type. For example, if you have combination to oily/acne-prone skin, a glycolic in a cream base may cause breakouts. Try switching to a skin type appropriate product to get the full benefits from glycolic acid.

emilyemily7921 says:

Would you recommend the pads or the serum then, for oily/acne prone skin?

dermTVdotcom says:

Hi Kimberly,

I’m glad to hear that you’ve been enjoying the Maximum Exfoliating Therapy Gel! While it is usually not necessary to continue use of the Epiduo, if by your judgement, you need both, then you can use the Epiduo just as a spot treatment, using a very small amount, applied only to the site of the blemish.

K-onyoutube says:

Which glycolic acid/cream/gel do u recommend? Which is the best and most effective??

dermTVdotcom says:

While order depends on the weight of the products (lightest product to heaviest), with my BeautyRx products, I recommend using the glycolic first and the vitamin c after.

Syed Junaid says:

can we use peels during pregnancy?

arwa rwra says:

Thanks dr,, greeting from middle east

Sarika Gupta says:

Dr Schultz I use a .05% retin a cream in night and weakly 35% glocolic acid peel.are glycolic gels/ creams better than peels

rionkarina says:

Thank you! I am almost out of my Alpha Hydroxy cream, so I’m going to try replacing that with a glycolic cream.

Syed Junaid says:

I want to know, can I use glycolic acid peel during pregnancy?

RE SH says:

can we use vitamin c serum with glycolic acid ?

Penny Schindler says:

can I use lemon or lime oil as a peel product?

rionkarina says:

Thank you!

songofangels777 says:

Obviously i’m not the doctor but with regular exfoliation (Glycolic) my rosacea dramatically improved over time to the point i no longer have it. Of course your experience may be different and i’d advise going slow (ALWAYS use a sunscreen when using Glycolic acid) but that is my experience, i hope yours is as good 🙂

missnadi19 says:

Hi Dr. I use 15 % glycolic acid at bedtime, i want to get rid of my blemishes but sometimes I notice black spots when I woke up is it normal? ans will they fade?

Kimberly says:

I just ordered a third bottle of the glycolic gel from you! I love it so much. I was on Epiduo which wasn’t enough so I went back to your glycolic and my skin is glowing again within 3 days and it’s so much smoother. Can I still spot treat with the Epiduo or do you find that isn’t necessary? Thanks 🙂

noworriesmile says:

so we leave glycolic treatment all night?

Gracie Gonzaga says:

Hi Dr. Is it true that ultra sonic treatment can expoliate skin? Is it safe to use 1 MHz ultrasonic at home device?

Toccoah Lynn says:

I use my gel under my eye hollows in hopes in will help with the wrinkles. I guess now?

Salsa207 says:

Hello Dr. Schultz, I just purchased my very first glycolic acid cream and I was wondering when should I expect to start seeing results? Days? Weeks? or Months?

theresa bucadon says:

how to avail your products?

noworriesmile says:

If I use a toner with salicylic acid should I use it before glycolic gel?

Maryam Maya says:

Hi dr!
I have started using glycolic!
My skin is breaking out!
Is that part of the healing process?
I do tolerate the glycolic! My skin doesnt get any red or burning!
Thanks u a lot!
Meriem from switzerland

Lisa A says:

Why do we get facial acne but not body acne? Or at least not to the same extent?

Mohammad Shahid says:

is glycolic cream removes the scar’s ?

Chase Mullinax says:

I use retinae so should I use my glycolic in the morning or can you use it both at night

candyplum90 says:

what about moisturiser? can you use it straight after the glycolic gel?

Milrose Escarcha says:

Hi doctor! Can I use Glycolic Acid Cream 10% on my face during day time? Can you give some instructions on how should I apply the cream? Thank you.

White Cat Black Wardrobe says:

If water deactivates glycolic acid, does that mean that water-based peels are useless? Also, could you explain the importance of pH and buffering?

 Write a comment


Do you like our videos?
Do you want to see more like that?

Please click below to support us on Facebook!