When would you use a glycolic acid, a retinoid, or both?

Hello, Dr. Irwin. Thank you very much for the amazing information you share with us. I noticed that your personal skincare regimen does not contain glycolic acid, is there a reaaon for that. I am a 25 year old female, and I understand the importance of using a retinoid cream at night, and a vitamin C serum and sunscreen in the morning. Should I add a glycolic acid product? Thank You.

One good reason to use glycolic acids is price point!   Similar results can be obtained with a good glycolic acid product, but at around $25…..not $80-100.    Especially for younger patients (teens, 20s, 30s) who are using sunscreen regularly, don’t have much sun damage, and have acne and oilier skin.   When using a  good quality retinoid daily, there’s really not much need for a glycolic.

A  key consideration though is the irritation factor.   If your skin has a ton of oil, you skin might be able to tolerate a retinoid, vitamin C and a glycolic.  Since generally you want to use the Vit C product under your sunscreen in the am, one strategy is to alternate the retinoid and the glycolic product every other night.   If you get irritated, rest your skin and then try again less aggressively.

Hope this helps,  Dr. I

Dr. Brandith Irwin, MD

Ask me your skincare question!

Hi, I’m Dr. Irwin, and I believe that consumers need and deserve a medically trained and unbiased skincare advocate.

  • All our content is written and researched by myself and my trained staff.
  • My medical office in Seattle has experience treating thousands of patients.
  • This site is not affiliated or financially tied to any product line.
Ask Me Something
SkinTour Skincare
One of the best investments in your skin is your daily skincare. Why? Because you can prevent many problems with blotchy skin color, lack of glow, texture, some types of acne, and fine lines with good skincare products. You can also correct some of these problems with effective skincare products. Great skincare is often more expensive because quality ingredients are expensive. Some companies spend on research/development which benefits all of us and adds to the cost. Are they worth it? In general - yes!