Gluconolactone: A Holy Grail Exfoliant To Step Up Your Skincare Ritual

If you are one of those sceptics who still think that dead skin removal is ‘supposed to be harsh and abrasive’, we hear you but do not quite agree with you. Being one of the most valued and booming industries in the world, aesthetic skincare has something for everyone even the sensitive skin types. Gluconolactone is today’s muse in our skincare guide!

Exfoliation — An Overlooked Beauty Ritual

You must have heard of cleansing, toning, moisturising and even masking your skin. But why not exfoliation?
A healthier, glowing skin is almost impossible to imagine without removing the heap of dead skin cells sitting on top of the surface. This is where exfoliants, or better yet, chemexfoliants jump in!

From boosting skin cells turnover, to decongesting pores, to enhancing the performance of skin serums and clinical skin care topicals, exfoliation does everything.

No matter what your skin type or concern is, scrubbing away that pile of dead skin cells and clogged sebum cannot be overlooked and skipped.

Buffing Away with Gluconolactone for Sensitive Skin

Did you know that around the world, some (60–70%) women and men (50–60%) claim to have sensitive skin to some degree?

If you are blessed with a sensitive skin or have developed a sensitised skin, you can still defy a lacklustre and ageing skin with polyhydroxy acids such as Gluconolactone.

Quick Refresher on the Family of Hydroxy Acids

Alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs)

These are water-soluble and commonly found in cult favourite toners, peels, and cleansers, play a role in achieving an even skin tone and texture. This group of acids also includes the widely used glycolic and lactic acids.

Beta hydroxy acids (BHAs)

Excellent for balancing sebum production since they are oil-soluble, and are the next in line. Salicylic acid, which you are certainly most likely familiar with, is typically used to serve as an acne treatment as well as with pore cleaning.

Polyhydroxy acids (PHAs)

Known as the “next generation AHA” is Gluconolactone. With a greater molecular size than AHAs and BHAs, polyhydroxy acids are a mild chemical exfoliator. This means that they cannot enter the skin as deeply.

Because of this, PHAs improve the tone and texture of the skin more on the surface without making it more irritable or sensitive.

So, now, you have been introduced to all the family members, loved and respected by dermatologists and internet beauty influencers alike. Great. Let’s get to know the gentlest of the two sisters, PHA Gluconolactone.

What is Gluconolactone?

Gluconolactone is a granular substance made from the gluconic acid that can be found in both maize and animals.
There are several groupings of hydrogen-oxygen links that make up this gentle exfoliant.
The moisturising and moisture-retaining qualities of gluconolactone are a result of its many water-attracting hydroxyl groups.

Gluconolactone structure

Take a look at other polyhydroxy acids to enrich your skincare IQ:


This PHA, which is made from milk sugar and used less often than others, is effective at gently exfoliating your skin.


Another milk-based PHA, this one is an oxidised version of milk that serves as an exfoliant plus a humectant.

5 Superb Skincare Benefits of Gluconolactone

1. Gentlest Chemical Exfoliator

Being one of the exfoliating members of the hydroxy acids family, this PHA gently dissolves unwanted dead skin cells sitting on top. The results?

Fresher, smoother skin texture and brighter looking complexion as well as diminished look of wrinkles and large pores, with regular use.

Moreover, almost all skin types including the people with a reactive skin type can handle it without flushing or flaking.

2. Free Radicals Fighter

Well, not exactly an antioxidant like Vitamin C or Vitamin A, rather it acts more like a chelating agent. It works by attaching to harmful metals and eliminating them from the body. This is particularly effective in fighting free radical damage from sun exposure.

PHAs were discovered to have very similar anti-aging qualities to AHAs in a study analysing AHAs and PHAs (particularly glycolic acid and gluconolactone).

Although glycolic acid showed more significant results, the differences were not substantial enough to push gluconolactone out of the spotlight.

3. Lures & Locks in Moisture

You do not need to remove dead skin cells for a smooth and glowing complexion at the expense of a hydrated skin! Gluconolactone does just that. How?

In order to hydrate and calm dry skin, gluconolactone, a humectant, draws moisture from the air and absorbs it into the skin. This “water-hungry” feature is missing in other family members of hydroxy acids.

So, the good news, especially for a sensitive skin type is that this gentle PHA does two jobs simultaneously. Leaving you out of any excuse against a robust skincare routine!

4. A Teamplayer With Other Skin Actives

Another benefit of choosing this chemical exfoliator is that it goes along pretty well with the majority of mainstream skincare ingredients. Gluconolactone may be used along Retinoids, Vitamin C and even AHAs and BHAs without any serious skin irritation.

So now, an anti ageing skin regimen is no longer limited to normal, dry or oily skin types anymore. Just make sure NOT TO OVER-EXFOLIATE, which otherwise may lead to inflammation and breakouts.

5. Ideal for Sensitive to Sensitised Skin

They say a sensitive skin to a sensitised skin (a skin with weak lipid barrier) throws more tantrums than a toddler!

Does that mean no more exfoliation and potent skincare ritual? Gluconolactone changes all that because it is relatively less irritating and more hydrating unlike its other two chemexfoliating sisters.

A little disclaimer: An acid is still, an acid. There is always a chance of developing redness or dry skin condition from it especially if you are dealing with atopic dermatitis or rosacea.

So, cautious and consultation with your skin specialist is very important.

Loving PHAs already?

But that is not all, as Harley Street Formulations also help you find this effective skincare ingredient in a clinically prepared serum. The Stimulate Retinaldehyde serum.

Stimulate RA Featuring Gluconolactone

Harley Street Formulations experts believe in skin type inclusivity. So, they had to create a skin transforming product that has a safety profile for sensitive skin type.

The Stimulate Retinaldehyde (RA) serum is an almost perfect anti ageing solution that is super hydrating and gentle especially for people having dry and sensitive skin.

Generally, retinoids are labelled as a ‘no go area’ because they are notoriously known to cause skin irritation and flaking. Yet, they are so good at battling signs of ageing skin. (We know, life can get unfair) but not anymore!

retinoids Vitamin A

The clinicians at Harley Street Formulations have developed one of the most hyped skincare products while also minimising the possibility of skin sensitivity.

When 2.5% of retinaldehyde is converted to 0.1%, it becomes a non-irritating as well as a stable form of Vitamin A (retinoid). Hence, making it ideal for all skin types.

So what makes Stimulate RA to stand out in the crowd?
An anti ageing serum that is doing soo many things all at the same time!

It not only helps in healing, repairing and enhancing your biological skin ageing signs and photo damage, thanks to Vitamin A (retinaldehyde).

Simultaneously, it also ensures to keep your protective skin barrier intact.

But how?
Well, it has our hydrating skin exfoliant Gluconolactone added to it that not only aids this serum to soften those unwanted ageing signs but also:

  • Hydrates the skin.
  • Gently buffs away dead skin cells
  • Locks in moisture and also plumps it up.

Is that all? Not quite.
Niacinamide, a form of vitamin B3, has anti-inflammatory properties. So, both vitamins (A & B3) nourish the skin and play a role in strengthening collagen.


Pro Tip for Clinical Skin Perfection

Are you always running away from antioxidants and skin acids such as Vitamin C, Retinol or AHAs and BHAs? Fear of possible skin irritation and flaking? You can stop now. No seriously.

Preventative anti ageing and natural skin collagen boost means adding a clinically formulated product that can actually guarantee results.

We are talking about pairing the Stimulate RA serum with Revitalise C20 serum to help you get true skin goals!

Just make sure to use your Retinal serum in your PM routine while adding the powerful Vitamin C with 20% L-Ascorbic Acid in your AM skincare ritual.

Hello results!

Gluconolactone: Our Verdict?

Whether you are born with a sensitive skin, or your skin is sensitised to the much needed skin exfoliation and rejuvenation, the Polyhydroxy Acids such as Gluconolactone are reliable.

So now, there is no more excuse left for those of you whose skin gets easily irritated when it comes to achieving a healthy and youthful looking glow. (especially with dead skin cells removal).

Loaded with so many research based skin benefits, and gentleness guaranteed by dermatologists, this PHA is hard to put away, no?

Let us know your thoughts on this guide. If you have any questions on our Stimulate Retinaldehyde serum or on general skin concerns in the comments.

Happy skin indulging!


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