Is Glycolic Acid as Effective as Retin-A?

A derm explains.
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Is glycolic as effective as Retin-A

Welcome to our Ask Beautyeditor column, where our experts answer your hair, skin and makeup questions. To request skincare advice:

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  • Briefly describe your skin issue.

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Q: I just bought a 10 percent glycolic peel to treat my melasma, as well as for anti-aging benefits and getting a glow/radiance. 

Will glycolic acid stimulate collagen production as well as retinoids have been proven to? — Jody

A: Jody, thank you for your question. 

Retinoids are the "gold standard" for stimulating collagen production. In North America, they are by prescription only. 

However, there are some negatives when using them. They can be drying, irritating and not everyone can tolerate using them every day.

Related: How to Use Retin-A

Glycolic acid does a better job at surface changes, such as making the skin smoother and helping a bit with colour.

Peter Thomas Roth Glycolic Acid 10 Percent Toning Complex

Peter Thomas Roth Glycolic Acid 10 Percent Toning Complex.

For your melasma, retinoids or bleaching creams would be recommended.

For glow/radiance, you can use the glycolic acid or try a peptide cream.

Dr. Dennis Gross Firming Peptide Milk

Dr. Dennis Gross Firming Peptide Milk.

Dr. Nowell Solish is one of Canada's top cosmetic dermatologists, with an office at 66 Avenue Road, Suite 1, in Toronto. Call 416-964-8888 to book an appointment.

Disclaimer: This information is for general purposes only and is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice relative to your specific medical condition or question. Dr. Solish recommends that you consult your physician or other medical professional for insight into your specific condition and medical options.