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What-it-does: exfoliant, chelating

Quick Facts

  • It’s a polyhydroxy acid (PHA), that is often referred to as next generation AHA
  • It gently lifts off dead skin cells form the skin surface making skin smooth and even
  • In the long term it provides anti-aging benefits, like increased skin thickness and decreased wrinkles (though a tad less than even more proven superstar AHAs)
  • It’s a great moisturizer and even helps to repair impaired skin barrier
  • It’s antioxidant, and does not make your skin more sensitive to the sun
  • It can be used even if your skin is very sensitive, rosacea prone or if you are post cosmetic procedure

Geeky Details

Gluconolactone is kind of an acid, even though you would probably not guess it from its name. It’s a PHA, or polyhydroxy acid. PHAs are close relatives to the famous AHAs, both in terms of similar chemical structure and similar effects on the skin. They are often marketed as new-generation AHAs. So if AHAs do not tell you anything, you can read all about them here. Go and read. We tell you, it’s worth the time.

So the main promise of gluconolactone (and also its brother, the other most often used PHA, lactobionic acid) is that it has comparable awesome skin benefits to AHAs but without the irritation as a side effect. Sounds great, right?

There was a study done in 2004 that compared a PHA skincare regimen and an AHA skincare regimen  for 12 weeks focusing on irritation and anti-aging benefits. The result? PHAs scored much better at irritation, stinging and burning (and much better means of course much less), and they scored very similar for anti-aging, skin-smoothing effects. There were only two aspects where the AHAs scored a bit better: pinch recoil and skin sallowness. 

Being gentle on the skin probably comes from the larger molecular size, that means less penetration and less irritation. In fact PHAs are so gentle that you can even use them if your skin is very sensitive (even if you have rosacea or atopic dermatitis) and they are also suggested post cosmetic procedure to prolong and enhance the skincare benefits. 

Another area where PHAs excel is skin moisturization. They are better at that than AHAs and can help to repair the skin barrier. They are also shown to work successfully together and enhance the benefits of other actives, including azelaic acid for rosacea or hydroquinone for hyperpigmentation. 

And that’s still not all. Gluconolactone also has antioxidant and chelating properties, which means that it can prevent oxidation of easily oxidised other things. Actually, it’s antioxidant effect is comparable to famous Vit C (though to be fair Vit C is awesome but not a particularly strong antioxidant in itself). 

And one more super interesting study result: as opposed to AHAs that increase sun sensitivity,  gluconolactone was shown not to do that. Not that we want to tell you not to use sunscreen if you use a gluconolactone exfoliant (please always use sunscreen!), but we thought this is interesting. 

Bottom line: Gluconolactone is a superstar and especially if your skin is sensitive it’s a must try. It will smooth your skin, even out the skin tone and even give anti-aging benefits and all this without irritation. Yep, must try. 

Show me some proof

  • Cutis., 2004 Feb;73(2 Suppl):14-7., A polyhydroxy acid skin care regimen provides antiaging effects comparable to an alpha-hydroxyacid regimen.
  • Cutis.,2004 Feb;73(2 Suppl):3-13., The use of polyhydroxy acids (PHAs) in photoaged skin.
  • Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology, , Volume 5 (1) – Mar 1, 2006, An evaluation of a polyhydroxy acid skin care regimen in combination with azelaic acid 15% gel in rosacea patients
  • Dermatologic Surgery, , Volume 30 (2) – Feb 1, 2004, The Polyhydroxy Acid Gluconolactone Protects Against Ultraviolet Radiation in an In Vitro Model of Cutaneous Photoaging
  • Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology, , Volume 4 (1) – Jan 1, 2005, After 30 years … the future of hydroxyacids
  • Hunt, Michelle J., and Ross StC Barnetson. "A comparative study of gluconolactone versus benzoyl peroxide in the treatment of acne." Australasian journal of dermatology 33.3 (1992): 131-134.

Products with a known amount of Gluconolactone

Other products with Gluconolactone

Dermalosophy Total Repair Forte Dove Dove intense repair shampoo Natur planet Hialu Pure 7% Neostrata Reactive Skin Neutralizing Serum Pond's New York Bright Brilliant Brightening Essence Aprilskin Calendula 10% PHA+AHA Resurfacing Serum Balance Me PHA Clarifying Mist Bandi Anti Rouge Acid Peeling Be Minimalist Pha 3% + Biotic Toner Benefit Cosmetics The Porefessional Tight ’n Toned Pore-refining AHA+PHA Toner Bielenda professional Acid Booster Bielenda professional Supremelab Energy Boost Eksfoliująca Maska Z Kwasami I Witaminą C Biologique Recherche Lotion P50 Biologique Recherche Lotion P50 V Biologique Recherche Lotion P50 W CNP Laboratory Invisible Peeling Booster CNP Laboratory Invisible Peeling Booster Watery COSRX Low Ph Pha Barrier Mist Cicatricure Vitamin C + Papamiel Nectar Glow Serum Comfort Zone Active Pureness Gel Davines Renewing Pro Boost Superactive Derma Express Solution Essence Dermies Clear Me Acne Control Serum Dermies Hello Glow Radiance Night Cream Dot & Key PHA + Bakuchiol Daily Peel Serum Dr Skin Clinic Peeling Kwasowy Rewitalizacja Dr. Different Scaling Toner ESPA Celular Renew Tonic Elizabeth Arden Visible Brightening Cicaglow Concentrate Erha Niacinamide & Txa Brightening Toner Essence Hello, Good Stuff! Skin Clearing Serum Exuviance Age Reverse Night Lift Exuviance Evening Restorative Complex Exuviance Overnight Transformation Complex Farmacy Brighten Up 3% Txa Dark Spot Toner Filorga Laboratories Filorga Oxygen-peel Loción Filorga Laboratories Oxygen-Peel Filorga Laboratories Oxygen-Peel Loção Micropeeling Reoxigenante Formula Dra Norma Bustos Gluco Peel GHD Heat Protect Spray Garden of Wisdom Pha Plus Serum Garden of Wisdom Pha Plus Serum Gold Bond Rough & Bumpy Skin Daily Therapy Cream Gold Bond Ultimate Rough & Bumpy Hello Glow Advance Rejuvenating Get Bright Pore Toner Holifrog Kosi Multi-acid Mask Indeed Labs Gluconolactone 10% Exfoliating Toner Innia All In One Serum JUMISO Pore-rest PHA 9 Deep Purifying Facial Toner Kicks 10% Aha + 10% Pha Face Concentrate