I have glycolic acid in my cleanser. Can I still use retinol after cleansing?

I think you will be fine to use the retinol. As it is retinol, I presume this is prescribed, so it would be worth discussing what the best cleanser is for you with your dermatologist or GP.

Unless the glycolic acid is listed in the top four ingredients, I doubt there is a large percentage in the cleanser. Even so, the cleanser is most likely quite alkaline, I would expect it to be around pH7–9 or higher and the glycolic acid (an AHA often used to help loosen the surface skin cells) is really only going to work in an acid environment, so below pH4. There are ways around this, but unlikely in a cleanser.

I wonder if something gentler might help, it seems a bit unkind to your skin to exfoliate it before applying a retinol (cream?). If this regime is to help oily skin, it can sometime work more effectively to use a very gentle cleanser, with a pH close to the skin (pH 5ish), you want the cleanser to clean away the daily dirt, not take your skin with it! You should feel comfortable after cleansing - the idea that we all need squeaky skin and hair ‘tingling’ with ‘freshness’ is an advertising hang-over from the 70s and 80s - no squeaking and no tingling is the new rule!

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