Everything You Need to Know About Glycolic Acid, Explained

No hyperbole: Glycolic acid changed my life. After years of alternating between salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide, brushing off flakes caused by retinol, and piling on pounds of concealer to cover an errant breakout, I was finally able to walk outside without makeup and not feel self-conscious about my acne-prone skin. If I were to get into the lobbying game, I would sell my soul for glycolic acid. Were I to run for president (of whatever), my slogan would be Glycolic Acid Deserves More Credit.

The major advantage of glycolic acid is that it does more than treat breakouts. The ingredient can also tackle hyperpigmentation, dullness, and signs of skin aging, such as lines and wrinkles, without breaking a sweat. But don’t just take my word for it. Here’s a breakdown of the most common questions about glycolic acid and what exactly makes it such a great ingredient.

What is glycolic acid?

Glycolic acid is a type of alpha-hydroxy acid (or AHA) that’s derived from sugar cane. It joins other acids you might recognize, such as lactic acid (derived from sour milk and purportedly a favorite of Cleopatra’s), tartaric acid (from grapes), and citric acid—which, you might guess, comes from citrus fruits.

But it’s unique. “Of the AHAs, glycolic is the simplest in structure and the smallest; it has the lowest molecular weight,” says Kenneth Howe, M.D., a dermatologist at Wexler Dermatology in New York City. That small molecular weight means “it’s easy for it to penetrate your skin and be super effective,” says Alix Shapiro, skin therapist at Heyday in NYC.

What does glycolic acid do for your skin?

First and foremost, glycolic acid is an exfoliant. It helps shed dead skin cells and reveal the newer, brighter layers underneath by acting on the stratum corneum (the outermost layer of skin). “Normal, intact stratum corneum consists of tightly packed layers of dead skin cells that are tightly bonded together,” says Howe. “Glycolic acid loosens these bonds.” With their glue dissolved by glycolic acid, those tough, rough layers of dead skin cells can more easily slough away.

But because glycolic acid is so small, it can get deeper into your skin too, where it does some serious work. “Glycolic acid stimulates fibroblasts in the dermis to produce increased amounts of collagen,” says Howe. And by stimulating collagen production, it helps skin feel firmer and minimizes fine lines and wrinkles. Between the superficial action on your stratum corneum and the work it does below, “your skin will feel smoother and look more radiant and even-toned,” Shapiro says.

How do you use glycolic acid in your skin care routine?

As with any exfoliant, it’s best to start small if you have sensitive skin or are prone to irritation. For this, Shapiro recommends using it in a face wash. “A glycolic cleanser can get your skin used to it, rather than diving straight into a leave-on glycolic product if you are unsure whether your skin can tolerate it,” she says. Try one that pairs glycolic with hydrating ingredients, like Glow Recipe’s Blueberry Bounce Gentle Cleanser, which includes hyaluronic acid.

Glow Recipe Blueberry Bounce Gentle Cleanser

$34

Sephora

Mario Badescu Glycolic Foaming Cleanser

$16

Mario Badescu

Peter Thomas Roth 3% Glycolic Solutions Cleanser

$39

Peter Thomas Roth

Innbeauty Project Foam Around Clarifying Daily Cleanser

$22

Innbeauty Project

If you know your skin is up for glycolic, try it in a peel. “I feel glycolic acid is most effective when administered as a chemical peel done in a health care practitioner’s office,” says Howe. “The medical-grade peel pads we use are stronger, with more potent effects, and many people get better results with stronger treatments done intermittently—once a month, say.” 

Obviously, getting to a derm every month isn’t always in the cards, which is where milder forms exfoliation like at-home peel pads come in. These are products you can use more regularly in your routine—anywhere from twice a week to every other day if you know your skin can tolerate it. I personally swear by BeautyRx Advanced 10% Exfoliating Pads, while Dr. Dennis Gross Alpha Beta Universal Daily Peel has a cult following for delivering gentle but effective exfoliation. 

BeautyRx by Dr. Schultz Advanced 10% Glycolic Acid Peel Pads

Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare Alpha Beta Universal Daily Peel

$88

Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare

The Ordinary Glycolic Acid 7% Toning Solution

$9

The Ordinary

Alpha-H Liquid Gold Exfoliating Treatment with Glycolic acid

$48

Alpha H

Is glycolic acid good for all skin types?

“It’s best for normal, combination, and oily skin types,” says Shapiro. But as with anything, glycolic acid is not for everyone. “People with dry, highly sensitive skin often react to it with irritation,” says Howe. “Any form might irritate them, whether it’s in a topical product, a home-use peeling pad, or an office-based peel procedure.”

When Ivanka Trump Tries to Rebrand, Don’t Forget She Sold You Out

Ivanka Trump looks like a model, speaks like a CEO, and approaches life with the misplaced confidence of a cisgender man at a pregnancy support group. From the first moments of her father’s presidential campaign they formed a mesmerizing pair, treated by the media like a monstrous king and the princess who believes in his warm heart. Without ever being elected to any office or appointed by a government body, Ivanka Trump became one of the most powerful women in the country.

She promised to act as a “moderating force” on the Trump White House. Instead, she became a tireless propagandist for it—supporting and promoting her father’s administration for four years, and shilling to try to get him four more. Through her work, and often through her silence, she endorsed his every dangerous lie, damaging policy, and hard right judiciary appointment, cosigning his indifference to human suffering. She showed that though their foundation shades differ, underneath their vastly different modes of self-presentation, Ivanka and Donald Trump are exactly the same.

Ivanka Trump’s job has always been selling herself to the public—when she inevitably starts that again, we should be conscious of what it is we’re buying. 

Jemal Countess

As her father’s administration draws to an end, there is no doubt that the Trumps will remain in public view. Donald Trump could launch a cable news network, or even another bid for president. Ivanka’s future is less clear, but it will certainly involve attempting to sell us something—a book, a TV show, a fashion line, or herself, as a politician in her own right.

But buying into a rebranded Ivanka would be a moral disaster. There is no separating the beautiful, charming, and talented parts of Ivanka Trump from the cruelty she helped normalize as part of the Trump administration.

Some fans of Ivanka hold on to the myth that her relationship to her father is just that of a dutiful daughter, but that’s not true—she was a close advisor to her father throughout his years as a racist birther conspiracist, she was in meetings at his side through every step of his run for office, she took a full time job in his administration, and she is credited with aggressively getting out the MAGA vote, particularly among white women, in 2016 and 2020.

Rather than acting as a moderating force on the president or his administration, she acted as a moderating force on the American people. She didn’t curb her father’s policies, she curbed the public’s responses to them

Ivanka supplied a steady stream of pleasant images and photo ops to confound and contradict reports about the chaotic reality of the Trump administration. She broadcast details about her focus on women’s empowerment and entrepreneurship, while quietly forging quiet political alliances with Senator Lindsey Graham, a powerhouse of anti-choice, anti-women’s health, and anti-fair pay voting. She posted on social media and spoke publicly about closing the gender pay gap, but supported her father’s work to block the Obama-era initiative that would have helped do exactly that. She stayed silent during the nomination to the Supreme Court of arch conservative judge Brett Kavanaugh and celebrated Justice Amy Coney Barrett’s confirmation. In March, she came out as “unapologetically” anti-abortion. 

Meghan Trainor Explains Why She Won’t Have Sex With Her Husband While Pregnant

Meghan Trainor and husband Daryl Sabara are expecting their first child together, a boy, and she’s implemented an interesting rule: no sex while pregnant. 

She explained her reason for this in a new interview with Today Parents. “Maybe this is weird, but mentally I can’t have sex while our son is in between us,” she said. “All my pregnancy apps say it feels really good. But all I can think about is that there’s a little boy in my belly.”

That’s fair—though, as Trainor herself even admitted, having sex while pregnant is totally normal and can actually be great. (In fact, click here  for a list of sex positions to keep sex while pregnant hot and safe.)

Meghan Trainor first announced her pregnancy in October via Instagram. “You all know how long I’ve wanted this!!!!😭🥰 @darylsabara and I are so beyond happy and excited to meet this little cutie early next year! WE’RE PREGNANTTTTT!!! 🎁😍🥳,” she wrote. 

Trainor then confirmed she was having a boy a few weeks later on The Kelly Clarkson Show. 

“I did all those, ‘Look online. How fast’s the heartbeat? Where do your hips go?’ And I was like, ‘Oh, it must be this,” Trainor told Clarkson, referring to figuring out the sex of her baby. Watch the full reveal, below. 

Sabara and Trainor tied the knot in 2018. You probably recognize him from a little movie called Spy Kids, where he played Juni Cortez. (Alexa Vega played his older sister, Carmen.) He now has a recurring role on the animated series Ben 10. “Our relationship really messes with my girlfriends’ minds,” Trainor said about Sabara on Today Parents. “They’re all like, ‘How the hell am I going to find a Daryl?’ He’s so good. He’s unbelievable.”

The couple’s baby is expected to make his debut early next year. Congrats!

35 Eco-Friendly Gifts You Can Feel Good About Giving

Your giftee cares about the environment, loves vintage, and most certainly doesn’t need another reusable shopping bag. So what do you get them? The best eco-friendly gifts cover a range of categories—from environmentally-conscious kitchen swaps to sustainable fashion and reusable beauty products—that can help banish even more single-use plastic from day-to-day life.

Of course, being mindful of what you’re gifting goes beyond choosing items that reduce waste; supporting small businesses and brands that give back is another way to shop and gift consciously. From upcycled jewelry to thoughtfully restored ceramics, shop the 37 best eco-friendly gifts of 2020.

All products featured on Glamour are independently selected by our editors. However, when you buy something through our retail links, we may earn an affiliate commission.

Brie Larson Swears By This Nintendo Switch Game That’s Also a Workout

Brie Larson has something to confess. “I feel like I’ve been working my whole life for this moment,” she says from her home in Los Angeles. “My mom is thrilled, like, ‘Wow, all those hours of your life are being put into something.’” 

It’s the kind of conversation one would expect Larson, 31, had with her mom after she won the Best Actress Oscar in 2016, but nope. Instead, it’s the culmination of thousands of hours playing video games that have landed Larson her first Nintendo commercial. “It is so surreal, a dream come true,” she says. “I am so genuinely passionate about Nintendo and their games that when I directed the film Unicorn Store I put some of my home video footage in there from when I was a toddler holding a controller. There are just some deep memories there.”

Those memories include games like The Little Mermaid, Super Mario Brothers, Super Spike V’Ball, and especially, Duck Hunt. “Oh my gosh,” she says with the excitement of a kid on Christmas. “Duck Hunt just felt magical because I couldn’t understand how I was interacting with the TV in that way.” 

And now she’s getting paid to do so. In the new commercial, she’ll be playing Ring Fit AdventureFortnite, and Animal Crossing: New Horizons—games that are part of Larson’s everyday life. But it’s more than just recreational fun. Larson credits her love of gaming for helping her become a better actor and director.

“Because the story element [in a video game] is so legit, that’s what keeps you playing, just like in a movie when you love your lead character and want to overcome an obstacle,” she says. “You stick with it because you truly believe in the stakes and want to get to the end. I just love that so much.”

Courtesy of Nintendo/Photo by Michelle McSwain

So with the gaming theme in mind, we challenged Brie Larson to a round of Your Fave’s Faves, where she revealed everything from the most comfortable sweats she owns to the chair she sits in “for hours.” Take notes.

The video game consoles I own

I have every single console. I have NES, SNES, Wii, Wii-U, Game Cube, Nintendo 64 and the NES mini. Plus, I have GameBoy, Gameboy Color, DS, 3-DS, the Pocket. I have had every single one. Luckily now, they have the games from the past in the stores, so you can play them on the Switch, so it’s not like I have to do a ton of switching through the consoles, but they’ve been a part of my life my whole life. 

Nintendo Wii

$90

Game Stop

Nintendo 64 System

$200

Amazon

Nintendo Game Boy

$90

Game Stop

Nintendo Switch Console

$385

Walmart

My favorite gaming swag

I have a Tom Nook T-shirt. It looks like one of those shirts that Tom Nook wears. I have a Super Mario hoodie that has Mario on it. I have Animal Crossing decal stickers. And then I have all the backpacks, cases and stuff for my actual Nintendo Switch and my Switch Lite.

Tom Nook’s Family Business T-Shirt

$25

Nintendo

Retro Mario Hoodie

$45

Nintendo

The most comfortable chair for gaming

We have moon pods, which are great. They are like bean bags, but they’re better than bean bags. I have two in space gray. And we also have the crescent shape in Neptune blue and they can go on top of the moon pod for extra support. I probably shouldn’t advise people of this, but I’ll sit pretty close to the TV on the moon pod. Then it becomes like playing video games in IMAX, where you’re just fully in the world.

Moon Pod

$399$299

Moon Pod

My favorite snack to eat while gaming

Lesser Evil Grain-Free Paleo Puff. The flavor is No-Cheese Cheesiness. Those I need to hide from myself, because I will eat those a lot. And there’s also an egg-white one that’s Huevos Rancheros, and that is very, very dangerous as well.

Lesser Evil Grain Free Paleo Puffs (3-pack)

Lesser Evil Egg White Curls, Huevos Rancheros

The kitchen accessory I always use

I recently invested in some Heath ceramic platters and they’re so amazing because I’m cooking so much at home. I got so interested in plating, so for example, I did roasted cabbage with a tahini sauce but I put it on a darker, rectangle platter for heat, and it makes everything look extra special. I’ve gotten more into the presentation because I have a little bit more time. I’m using it as a creative outlet.

The comfiest sweats I wear at home

Barefoot Dreams. They’re the softest things in the entire world. They’re robes, blankets, and then they also have sweatpants. Some are lighter weight, some are heavier. But they are the best things ever. It’s been very hard to wear anything other than that.

My skincare essentials when I’m not on-camera

I use Decorté. My skincare is super simple, but they have this radiance oil that I use. It’s a really lightweight oil that I’ve been putting on my face, and then they also have a lip oil.

Decorté AQ Intensive Radiance Oil Infusion

$95

Decorté

Decorté Lip Oil

$27

Decorté

The last book I read

Mariah Carey’s book, The Meaning of Mariah Carey. I love Mariah. Even more than that, I love pop stars, I love pop music. It’s really important to me. I’ve just loved learning more about Mariah and she is very honest in the book, telling her story, which I really appreciate.

The Meaning of Mariah Carey by Mariah Carey

My reality TV show obsession

The Great Pottery Throwdown! Did you ever watch The Great British Bakeoff? Well, it’s the same people or concept, and instead of baking, it’s with pottery. Everyone’s so kind to one another and helps each other out and supportive. It’s not the typical stirring up drama type of show. Everyone’s kind and creative. It’s very soothing.

My favorite workout

I’ve been playing Ring Fit Adventure. My trainer Jason has been having me do some YouTube videos, as well as just using objects at home. Stretching and strength-training is important. And I also do some stuff in the pool, but I wouldn’t recommend people doing that unless you’re very confident in pool training. 

Nintendo Switch Ring Fit Adventure

Jessica Radloff is the Glamour West Coast editor. You can follow her on Instagram at @jessicaradloff14.

37 Gifts for Nurses Who Could Use a Little TLC

You don’t need a holiday to give thanks to all the health care professionals in your life, especially in 2020. But gifts for nurses during COVID-19 are particularly thoughtful, considering this year has brought intense exhaustion and heartache to an already difficult job. 

Any medical professional will tell you that these days, the best gifts for health care workers include wearing your mask, staying home, and helping limit the spread of the coronavirus. That said, if you want to add a meaningful gesture to the list, you can do it from the safety of your sweatpants with a thoughtful present. We talked to nurses across the country about everything on their holiday wish lists, and then we asked their family and friends what they plan on gifting them this year. The end result? A list that runs the gamut from hand creams to washable backpacks to meal-kit services that can help bring a (much-needed) sense of calm into their lives. 

If there’s a nurse, doctor, or health care professional in your life, you know they could use more love, appreciation, and R&R than ever. Ahead, 37 gifts for nurses (during  COVID-19 and beyond) to show that you care. 

All products featured on Glamour are independently selected by our editors. However, when you buy something through our retail links, we may earn an affiliate commission.

People Are Comparing Meghan Markle and Princess Diana After Watching The Crown Season 4

Meghan Markle and Princess Diana sadly never met, but their stories will be forever intertwined. 

There are the obvious reasons why. Markle, of course, married Princess Diana’s youngest son, Prince Harry—but the latest season of Netflix’s The Crown has many on social media drawing even deeper comparisons between the women. 

Over the course of the show’s fourth season, we see Lady Diana Spencer—a fancy, posh Brit in her own right—become Diana, Princess of Wales. This transition was difficult for her for several reasons, ranging from Prince Charles‘s continued relationship with Camilla Parker-Bowles, the coldness of the familial relationships, the rules she had to follow, and more. Now, it’s important to remember that The Crown is not a documentary and while based on historical events cannot be taken as fact. But Princess Diana herself opened up about the struggles of royal life in 1995, so it’s not a stretch to think she was unhappy. 

Meghan Markle, on the other hand, was a true outsider when she married Prince Harry: a divorced, American actor and an outspoken feminist who didn’t shy away from sharing her political beliefs. At first, she seemed to fit seamlessly into her new role as Duchess of Sussex. She was a natural at royal engagements and taking on her own projects, like her charity cookbook and Smart Works fashion collection. But as we learned in a documentary she and  Prince Harry filmed in 2019, she was struggling emotionally behind the scenes.

”And especially as a woman, it’s really, it’s a lot. So if you add this on top of just trying to be a new mom or trying to be a newlywed, it’s um….” she said in the doc. “Yeah, well, I guess, and also thank you for asking because not many people have asked if I’m okay. But it’s a very real thing to be going through behind the scenes.” After hearing this, longtime royals fan immediately thought of Princess Diana, who tragically died in a car crash while being chased by paparazzi.

Peter Morgan, The Crown’s creator, understands the comparisons between Markle and Princess Diana. “When you see a beautiful young princess struggling to find love and acceptance within the family, the parallels are obvious and the parallels write themselves,” he told Vanity Fair. “If you come into [the royal family] with any agenda for yourself—or if you come in and connect with the public in a way that threatens to change the way that the royal family connects with the public—that’s something that doesn’t particularly sit comfortably for either side.”

As fans watch Princess Diana’s life play out in this new season, they’re taking to Twitter to draw comparisons between her and Markle: 

The Crown season four is currently streaming on Netflix—and we’re dying to know if Meghan Markle and Prince Harry are watching. 

Princess Anne and Princess Margaret Are The Crown’s Best Secret Weapons

And so, in episode three, when the royal family is at the wedding rehearsal, Margaret says to her brother-in-law, Prince Philip, “Charles loves someone else. How many times can this family make the same mistake…forbidding marriages that should be allowed, forcing others that shouldn’t. Paying the consequences each time. He’s still in love with the other one.”

Des Willie

It’s the kind of exchange that makes you think, as much as one loves a grand royal wedding, Margaret is right—and maybe she can stop it. Of course, Philip doesn’t want to hear it, and says the older Diana gets, the more confident and beautiful she’ll become, and Charles will fall in love with her even more. (Right, because that always works.)

Margaret is dumbfounded. “And in the meantime, he juggles them both?” When the Queen Mother tells her daughter that’s how it’s always been, Margaret steps up her concerns. “This is madness,” she asserts. “We can stop them now, before they tie the knot. Not just for the sake of the monarchy but for them as human beings.”

But the royal family has never sold itself on being human—at least not until Diana later upended the whole system by publicly showering her children with affection and hugging total strangers. That’s why Doherty relished those private moments as Princess Anne where she could show just how broken the Queen’s only daughter really was. 

“In the episode titled ‘Favourites,’ when Anne tries to reach out to her mum and doesn’t get what she needs, she essentially has a little bit of an emotional breakdown,” Doherty says. “It’s a heartbreaking thing to watch and play, but necessary to show that vulnerability. Because even people you think have it all together do not. That’s part of being human, and it’s wonderful to see.” 

Anne is dealing with her own fractured marriage, and the Queen’s response is basically that troubling times will pass if you have the patience to wait. Anne—never one to hold back—pointedly looks at her mother and asks, “Is doing nothing your solution to everything?” In some ways, that very question/statement sums up exactly what has dogged the Queen during the country’s most difficult times. 

“That is the show,” Doherty says. “But the fascinating and beautiful thing about the Queen is that she is this immovable force, and we will never understand that. But that’s what creates, essentially, all the drama.”

Lana Del Rey Finally Spoke Out About That Mesh Mask Controversy

Lana Del Rey is often praised for her fashion aesthetic. It’s one of the reasons her fans love her—along with her amazing music, of course. 

But in early October, the singer found herself the subject of serious online criticism after she posted a video of herself wearing a mesh mask amid the raging coronavirus pandemic. Had she just been chilling at home wearing it, there would not have been an issue. But Del Rey was actually at a fan meet-and-greet, and people were quick to point out that a mesh mask is basically useless in curbing the spread of COVID-19. 

According to The Independent, the singer showed up for a “surprise” event at The Grove, an outdoor mall in Los Angeles, where everyone at the time was supposed to wear a proper face covering in public. (This is still the case, by the way: The CDC has some pretty easy guidelines to follow on which masks are actually effective.)

Lana Del Rey has remained silent on the controversy—until now. She tweeted a response to The Michigan Daily (the University of Michigan student paper) after they posted an opinion piece about Del Rey’s situation and cancel culture. She claims there was more to her mesh mask than we could see. 

“Great article. The mask had plastic on the inside,” she wrote. “They’re commonly sewn in by stylists these days. I don’t generally respond to articles because I don’t care. But there ya go. Same goes for everyone’s masks in my video. I’m lucky enough to have a team of people who can do that.”

She said what she said, and there’s no reason not to believe there was another layer we couldn’t see. This whole situation is just a reminder that modeling good behavior around mask wearing isn’t a bad thing at all—for the famous and not-famous alike. 

Barack Obama Once Had to Quit Coaching Sasha’s Basketball Team After Parents Complained

Barack Obama’s new memoir, A Promised Land (out November 17), gives the world new insight into how the first Black president navigated both his job and family life with wife Michelle and daughters, Sasha and Malia, who we all watched grow up during the family’s eight years in the White House. 

It’s been well documented that the Obamas tried to keep life as normal as possible for their girls (both of whom are now in college). One of those ways? President Obama serving as a temporary coach for Sasha’s basketball team, which also happened to include president-elect Joe Biden‘s granddaughter, Maisy

In an excerpt from the book published by The Sunday Times, Obama writes that he and Michelle tried to not be “those parents” who yelled at the refs but also found themselves shouting “box out” or “get back on defense” to the girls on the team. “After observing an adorable but chaotic first couple of games, Reggie and I took it upon ourselves to draw up some plays and volunteered to conduct a few informal Sunday afternoon practice sessions with the team,” he writes. (Reggie is Reggie Love, who served as Obama’s personal aide and also just happened to play basketball at Duke.)

The duo worked with the team on “dribbling, passing, making sure your shoelaces were tied” and “celebrated like it was the NCAA finals” when they won the championship game. (Hopefully he asked Michelle’s brother, Craig Robinson, for some tips too, since he’s coached college hoops!) 

Apparently, some other parents in the league took issue with Barack Obama, a.k.a. the president of the United States, coaching one of the teams, and Obama and Love gave up their roles. “They must think being coached by you is something they can put on their Harvard application,” Love said, per the excerpt

But Obama still loved the experience. “Despite a few exasperating incidents like that, there was no denying that our status as the First Family conferred plenty of benefits,” he writes. 

Getty Images

“Every parent savors such moments, I suppose, when the world slows down, your strivings get pushed to the back of your mind, and all that matters is that you are present, fully, to witness the miracle of your child growing up,” he continues in the book. “Given all the time I’d missed with the girls over years of campaigning and legislative sessions, I cherished the normal ‘dad stuff’ that much more.”

Barack Obama’s A Promised Land is dedicated to his family: “To Michelle—my love and life’s partner—and Malia and Sasha—whose dazzling light makes everything brighter.”