Skinstitut Glycolic Cleanser 12% - review


I've been using this product every day for months now so it's high time I reviewed it. As you may remember, I bought a bunch of Skinstitut products ages ago and I've been using them and reviewing them in turn.

This is the last one I own and I've done a pretty good exploration of the range now (I've tried eight products in total) and I can say that, overall, it's not the right range for me. 

While I did really enjoy two of the products - the Ultra Firming Eye & Neck Cream (reviewed here) and the Enzymatic Micro Peel (reviewed here) - the rest of them haven't done much for me so I know that it's just not my brand.

Skinstitut claims/product details:

  • A powerful dual cleanser and exfoliant formulated for deep cleansing action
  • Reveals a healthy and radiant complexion
  • Unclogs pores and removes dead skin
  • Brightens skin and refines texture
  • Prevents blemishes, acne and blackheads
  • Promotes healthy cell renewal for plumper skin
  • Formulated with glycolic acid, an effective alpha-hydroxy acid that promotes both removal of dead skin cells and turnover of new skin cells
  • Perfect for transforming dull, pigmented or uneven skintones into a luminous, even complexion
  • Glycolic acid works to bring plump, hydrated cells from the lower layers of the epidermis to the surface, revealing a brighter and more even complexion
  • Acne-prone skin types benefit from the decongestant properties of this cleanser, which keep pores clear and blemishes and blackheads at bay
  • The addition of tea tree oil, a potent anti-inflammatory ingredient, soothes breakouts
  • Lightly foaming and granule-free, this exfoliating cleanser will not strip skin of moisture or leave it feeling tight 
  • The exfoliant formula refines, smooths and brightens skin, making it an excellent cleanser for ageing complexions suffering from dark spots, fine lines or overall dullness
  • Can treat sun damage
  • RRP $49 AUD for 200ml, but do shop around (I paid less than $30 for mine)


This product is ok but I've used much better AHA cleansers so I wouldn't buy it again. For example, my HG Alpha-H Liquid Gold Skin Renewal Wash (reviewed here) is light-years better than this one, and while I bought that for $40 AUD for 100ml - so yes, it's more expensive - I'm prepared to pay a little more for something wonderful that works.

It's a white product that's a cream/gel hybrid although note that there's something inconsistent and gluggy/gluey about the texture so it doesn't look or feel great on. It has a chemical scent, although I'd say that's the glycolic acid so the smell doesn't concern me. I can smell the tea tree oil, too.

I tried mine as an in-shower cleanser but it wasn't doing much for me so instead I started using it as my second cleanse each morning. What I do is use a cream cleanser first and once I've removed that, I apply this product and then leave it on for a couple of minutes before completing the cleansing process and washing it off.

I do this because I want to get some effect from the glycolic acid it contains, and I'm more likely to get that if I leave it on for a while, rather than washing it off straight away. Thankfully this process has helped slightly in terms of the effect the product is giving me, so that's something you can try if it's not working for you either.

Even when I do this, though, I'm still not seeing the kinds of results I would expect to see from a product like this. Maybe it brightens my skin a little, although I don't think it does so any more than just washing my face with any old product would. 

It also hasn't done any resurfacing or plumping for me, and rather than clearing up my skin, these days I find myself with a lot more blemishes than usual (indeed, the situation is the worst it's been for a long time, and I have dry skin so I don't normally get many blemishes). While I don't think this product is responsible, it certainly hasn't helped clear things up or decongest my face.

The only thing I should perhaps mention is that I am using other products that contain active ingredients, so it could be that the hard work is already done and there's not much else that this cleanser can add to the process. Still, I've used other cleansers that have added something, so I don't think we can put this one's lack of efficacy down to that alone.

Overall I think this cleanser is ok and it might be a good starter product for those who want to introduce AHAs into their routine - especially because it's reasonably priced for the amount you get - but for me it doesn't do enough and I wouldn't buy it again.


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