Let me preface by saying that my skin generally doesn’t like glycolic acid. Yes it’s the most popular and effective AHA used in exfoliants, but it tends to make my skin raw rather than glowy. But when a glycolic acid product has thousands of 5-star reviews, it must be doing something right, right?
Meet Alpha H Liquid Gold Exfoliating Treatment With Glycolic Acid, the only exfoliant I’ve been using for the past 3 weeks.
Table of Contents
What is it
A gentle 5% Glycolic acid to improve brightness and tone. Helps prevent signs of aging, fine lines and wrinkles, uneven skin tone, texture and dullness. Supports collagen production.
Things to note
Contains alcohol but is fragrance-free.
A sleek plastic bottle with an outer cap and an inner flip cap. The outer cap can be difficult to remove so I would only close that if you plan on travelling with the bottle. The narrow opening makes it easy to dispense just the right amount of product.
Has a slight sour scent but dissipates quickly.
Feels like water. Can sting a bit on application, especially if you’re new to exfoliating or your skin is still damp. This is normal to experience and the sensation should go away after a few minutes.
Natural finish with just a hint of stickiness, but doesn’t impact subsequent product application. Skin doesn’t feel dry or uncomfortable.
Please disable your ad blocker if you’re unable to view the video!
I prefer simpler formulas with powerful ingredients, it’s more efficient and reduces chances of irritations, so this list is right up my alley. Things to note:
- 5% Glycolic Acid – An alpha hydroxy acid that acts as an exfoliant to remove dead skin cells from the surface of your skin, leaving it smoother and brighter. This also helps improve the performance of your other products, since you’ve removed that extra layer of dead skin. Oh and it helps increase collagen production and the thickness of our skin!1
- Glycerin – Not only a great humectant (drawing and retaining moisture on the skin), but it can improve our skin barrier function and protect against external irritants.2 Definitely an underrated product and just as beneficial as Hyaluronic Acid!
- Hydrolyzed Silk – There are two types of silk proteins with skin benefits. According to Morgan Rabach, clinical instructor of dermatology at Mount Sinai in New York City, Sericin can help promote hydration and form a protective layer over the skin while Fibroin has wound healing and reparative properties.
- Licorice Root Extract – Has skin brightening, antioxidant, and skin soothing properties. The latter is especially great to see in a exfoliator formula.
Some of you may be turning your nose at alcohol, and I feel you. It’s not my favorite ingredient, but I don’t think it’s as evil as some may claim either. It actually improves product texture, application, and acts as a penetration enhancer for other ingredients!
Dermatologist Dr. Audrey Kunin, M.D and Labmuffin both agree that alcohol in skincare isn’t a big concern, so unless you know you’re sensitive to it, don’t mindlessly rule out a product just because it has alcohol!
The Alpha-H Liquid Gold Exfoliating Treatment is pH of 2.8 – 3.0, which is just at the lower end of the range. This makes it actually stronger compared to other 5% Glycolic Acid at a higher pH, but not so strong it’ll burn your face off by accident (for reference, in office treatment can go as low as pH 2).
While the supporting ingredients are nice to have, the star of this product is clearly Glycolic Acid, and your skin will definitely feel it. As in, don’t expect to experience any of the hydrating or soothing benefits from the other ingredients, though I suppose without them you’d feel that acid tingle even more!
- After cleansing in the evening, thoroughly dry your skin first. This should be the first product you apply in your routine.
- Apply 5 drops to a cotton pad and gently swipe in an upward, outward motion, starting with your t-zones, then moving on to the rest of your face and neck.
- For best results, wait at least 15-20 minutes before you apply your next product for the AHA to work its magic. If you can, stop here to let the solution work overnight.
- Optional: Follow up with the rest of your skincare routine, but skip any other actives like retinol or ascorbic acid vitamin c. If you have dry skin definitely follow up with a moisturizer!
- Make sure to apply sunscreen diligently in the mornings, as glycolic acid can increase your skin's photosensitivity! (citation 3)
- Start with once a week application, and gradually increasing it up to every other night (three times a week).
If your skin is on the sensitive side, you can apply the 5 drops directly into your palms and pat the solution into your skin instead. This removes the physical exfoliation factor of using the cotton pad.
Usage Experience & Results
Didn’t like how hard the outer cap was to open, so I’ve left it off ever since. Despite being just 5% glycolic acid, I did experience a tingling sensation as soon as I applied the Liquid Gold. Makes sense due to the low pH of 2.8. It didn’t last long, and by the time I finished brushing my teeth my skin felt fine. No redness or other issues observed.
The next morning I didn’t really notice a significant difference in my skin, which was mildly disappointing. So clearly this is not meant to be an overnight wonder, at least not for my skin.
3 Weeks In
I started off using Liquid Gold just once a week, but after seeing that my skin can handle it well, I started using it every other day. By the end of the third week, my skin still felt fine, but I was noticing a glow now in the morning after using this liquid exfoliant!
The tingly feeling went away, and it just felt like I was applying toner on my skin at this point.
Thoughts After 4+ Weeks
I never thought I’d be able to use a chemical exfoliant regularly and not have my dry skin hate me for it, but here I am still using Liquid Gold every other day and absolutely loving it. The key for me was to properly moisturize and nourish my skin afterwards with a serum and moisturizer. If you have oily skin you can get away with the “swipe and done” approach.
My skin looks brighter, so much that there’s a visible tone difference between my neck and my face (and this is why you always apply the same products to both areas)! Pores are also less noticeable, and my skin feels as soft and smooth as Cooper’s tummy.
I haven’t noticed any improvements to fine lines yet, but I know these can take even longer to see those results. I don’t expect this to have much impact on my stubborn dark spots, but I’ll report back if this proves me wrong! Given the timeframe of use and the changes I’ve seen, Liquid Gold really did live up to all the positive reviews!
What Others Say
Glycolic Acid has shown to do everything claimed and the difference I notice in my skin in the morning after applying it at night is visible.Doctor Anne, oily skin
In terms of acne, my skin has seriously calmed down since using the Alpha-H Liquid Gold. Once I added this into my routine, I’ve barely had any spots.Alice, acne-prone skin
My skin instantly feels elastic and rejuvenated after I swipe over the treatment, and my pores are getting smaller. My biggest noticeable improvement is in the brightness of my skin.Harper’s Bazzar
Pixi Glow Tonic
Also uses 5% glycolic acid, so if you’re looking for an affordable dupe this could be one to start with. It’s been almost 10 years since I used this, but I remember it gave me all the tingles with very little results. I’d start slow with the smallest size possible to see how your skin reacts to it.
Lancome Clarifique Double Essence
If you prefer something gentler that you can use everyday, this could be a good option. I noticed brightening and refining results within a few weeks, but then it peaked and just stopped working. Combo/oily skin may like this one.
BIOLOGIQUE RECHERCHE Lotion P50W
Another potent exfoliating liquid but BR uses Lactic Acid instead. This delivers similar results, and even the small bottle lasted me a long time. I also love that it comes in different version for different skin types/needs. I recommend starting with P50W which is the gentlest.
Versed Weekend Glow Daily Brightening Solution
Contains 2% lactic acid + 3% glycolic acid + 0.5% azelaic acid + 0.3% kojic acid, but feels extremely gentle on the skin because it has a pH of 5-6, which is on the high side. Another one that you can use more frequently, but will take longer to see results.
Read more: 13 AHA exfoliants for baby soft skin
- Simple formula at the correct pH level so it maximize its active ingredient’s benefits.
- Noticeably brighter complexion and smoother texture with regular use.
- Relatively gentle on the skin when you slowly ramp up frequency and moisturize properly.
- Contains alcohol, which can be problematic for some people.
- On the pricier side, especially since there are affordable options.
Scores & Summary
Personally, I’m a big fan of Liquid Gold and it’s become a staple in my routine. After all, what’s not to love about a product that delivers the results and live up to the hype? But, ymmv, and I understand that this is a pricey product to take a gamble with. If you already have an exfoliant product you already love, I’d say stick to it. But if you’re still looking for your holy grail, this is one I’d highly recommend you try!
- Is Alpha H Liquid Gold worth it?
Yes, I personally think so. This is one of the most effective glycolic acid product I’ve tried that my skin tolerates well. It brightens and smooths my skin as claimed. If you already have an AHA that you love, start with the mini size to see how it works for you!
- How long does it take for Alpha H Liquid Gold to work?
Depending on your skin, you can see results as quickly as the next day! However it typically takes around 28 days (a full skin renewal cycle) to notice a significant difference.
- Is Alpha-H good for aging skin?
Yes! As our skin turnover rate slows down with our age, AHAs like glycolic acid in Liquid Gold helps with the process. It can also help with collagen production and skin thickness, two other things that decrease as we age.
- What is the best way to apply Liquid Gold?
I’ve found using a cotton pad the most effective method, but you can also apply it in your palms and gently pressing the liquid into your skin.
To keep my content accurate and trustworthy, I rely on peer-reviewed studies, articles from reputable academic institutions, and quotes from certified healthcare professionals to back my claims.
KIM, SEONG-JIN, et al. “Increased in Vivo Collagen Synthesis and in Vitro Cell Proliferative Effect of Glycolic Acid.” Dermatologic Surgery, vol. 24, no. 10, Oct. 1998, pp. 1054–1058, https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1524-4725.1998.tb04074.x.
Fluhr, J.W., et al. “Glycerol and the Skin: Holistic Approach to Its Origin and Functions.” British Journal of Dermatology, vol. 159, no. 1, July 2008, pp. 23–34, https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-2133.2008.08643.x. v
Kornhauser, Andrija. “Applications of Hydroxy Acids: Classification, Mechanisms, and Photoactivity.” Clinical, Cosmetic and Investigational Dermatology, Nov. 2010, p. 135, https://doi.org/10.2147/ccid.s9042. v