A regular skincare routine can help you keep your skin looking young and healthy while reducing signs of damage or aging. Glycolic Acid is an alpha-hydroxy acid that has many benefits for your skin.
What Is Glycolic Acid?
Glycolic acid is a common skincare ingredient from sugar cane used to exfoliate the skin and promote cell turnover. This ingredient is one of the most popular alpha hydroxy acids, or AHAs, chemical exfoliants derived from milk or sugar. This compound has small molecules that can effectively penetrate your pores to clear out sebum and bacteria (to treat acne) and encourage collagen production.
Glycolic acid is water-soluble, working at the surface level of your skin to break down the “glue” that holds your skin cells together and remove dead skin cells for potentially smoother, clearer skin and a hydrating or moisturizing effect. You can find glycolic acid in cleansers, toners, at-home exfoliating treatments, or chemical peels from certified dermatologists.
4 Benefits of Glycolic Acid
Glycolic acid products can be a powerful addition to your skincare routine. Here are some of the benefits of glycolic acid.
Stimulates collagen growth. The small molecules in glycolic acid can penetrate the skin and stimulate collagen production beneath the surface of your skin, improving the appearance of acne scars or dimpled skin.
Has anti-aging properties. Though glycolic acid is technically an acid, it is also a humectant, a product that absorbs moisture. This helps to plump the skin and reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles,
It can help clear acne. Glycolic acid is an exfoliant that clears away dead skin cells, allowing your skin to breathe and renew itself. Consistent use of glycolic acid can relieve your pores of excess oil and sebum, helping to control breakouts. Glycolic acid can also help prevent the emergence of blackheads, whiteheads, and pimples.
Evens skin tone. Glycolic acid peels and treatments can help to minimize pores and rejuvenate the skin. It can also help to reduce hyperpigmentation, sun damage, melasma, or dark spots.
How to Use Glycolic Acid
A typical over-the-counter glycolic acid product will have about eight to ten percent glycolic acid, with higher concentrations (about thirty to seventy percent) available through administration by a dermatologist. If you begin to use glycolic acid and experience side effects like excessive burning or dryness, discontinue usage immediately. Add a glycolic acid product to your skincare routine for a day or two to see how your skin reacts. Here are some tips for incorporating glycolic acid into your skincare regimen.
Use at night. Glycolic acid can make your skin more susceptible to UV rays during sun exposure. Always use your glycolic acid product at night, and wear sunscreen with a high SPF in the mornings if you plan on being outside.
As a face wash and as a skincare ingredient, glycolic acid is sometimes combined with salicylic acid in daily facial cleansers for acne-prone skin. These solutions usually contain a lower concentration of glycolic acid, making them acceptable for everyday use as a face wash.
As a skin toner, some skin toners will also contain lower concentrations of glycolic acid that you can use as part of your nightly skincare routine to help brighten, plump, and smoothen your complexion.
As a chemical peel, chemical peels contain some of the highest concentrations of glycolic acid, up to seventy percent. A board-certified dermatologist might be able to provide an in-office glycolic acid peel to address a variety of skin issues or improve your overall skin texture.
As a mask glycolic acid masks have a higher concentration of glycolic acid than cleansers or toners, making them better for occasional use (about once a week). However, applying a glycolic acid mask will improve the absorption of your other skincare products. Consider using a glycolic acid exfoliating mask once a week after you wash your face, then continue with the rest of your skincare routine.
Always moisturize after use. Glycolic acid exfoliates and hydrates the skin but can irritate or dry out sensitive skin. Always follow your glycolic acid application with an additional light moisturizer to reduce the effects of dryness and irritation on the skin.
Avoid additional exfoliating scrubs. Avoid other exfoliants using glycolic acid because too much exfoliation can cause dry skin and increase the risk of severe irritation. Additionally, it may worsen redness if you suffer from rosacea or are currently using vitamin C or benzoyl peroxide products.
Before Starting a New Skincare Regimen
Individuals experience different levels of sensitivity to ingredients found in various skincare products. To prevent adverse reactions, consult a dermatologist before applying a new product to your skin. This article is for educational and informational purposes and is not a substitute for professional medical advice.