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. 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.

Your dermatologist can take you through pro treatments, but we’ll be talking about the OTC glycolic acid products to check out, what they can do for your skin, and what to know before you go all in with the potent ingredient.