The anti-aging ingredient combats pigmentation, uneven texture, acne, and wrinkles.

Some anti-agers get all the attention: retinol, vitamin C, and hyaluronic acid, to name a few. But glycolic acid also belongs in the ranks of ingredients that keep your skin looking bright, plump, and smooth.

Glycolic acid is an alpha hydroxy acid (AHA), a class of chemicals that gently exfoliate the skin, which also includes lactic, citric, and malic acids. But the ingredient is not exactly new, even though it’s been gaining popularity, says Joely Kaufman, M.D., a board-certified dermatologist at Skin Associates of South Florida. Derived from sugar cane, glycolic acid can be used both at-home topically (in the form of toners, serums, or creams) or as an in-office peel in stronger concentrations, she says.

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