Glycolic acid is a naturally-occurring fruit acid derived from sugarcane. It is a colorless, odorless and hygroscopic crystalline alpha hydroxy acid (AHA) commonly found in skincare products.
Due to its ability to penetrate the skin, it is often used as a chemical peel or exfoliant. Once applied, glycolic acid reacts with the upper layer of the epidermis, weakening the binding properties of the lipids that hold the dead skin cells together. This allows the stratum corneum to be exfoliated, exposing live and healthy skin cells.
It is touted for its ability to stimulate new cell generation resulting in improved skin texture and tone. Apart from brightening the skin, it is also known for stimulating collagen and elastin which accelerates skin healing and reduces signs of environmental damage.
What Does It Do For Your Skin?
Glycolic acid is commonly found not just in physician-strength peels used by dermatologists but also in at-home peels. It is an effective skin treatment when applied properly and at the right strength. What’s more, it is also safe enough to be used on sensitive skin.
It is a go-to chemical exfoliant for many people due to its ability to breakdown the outermost layer of dead skin cells. This reveals brighter and fresher skin with continued use.
This AHA can also be used to treat inflammatory skin conditions such as psoriasis, melasma, and seborrheic keratosis. Moreover, it can also be used to treat scarring, skin discoloration, and signs of aging such as fine lines and wrinkles.
When used at low strengths, it can be added to moisturizers to act as a humectant. It can transfer water molecules from the air into the skin tissue which helps in replenishing lost moisture.
Furthermore, it also assists with collagen production. Collagen is an important structural protein that plays a vital role in keeping the skin looking plump, smooth, and refreshed.
How to Incorporate Glycolic Acid in your Skincare Routine?
Glycolic acid is a staple ingredient in many skincare products. For example, you can use a nighty skin treatment containing glycolic acid to reap the wrinkle-fighting benefits of this ingredient. It can refine your skin as you sleep so you can wake up to smooth skin.
Cleansers containing glycolic acid can also maximize the glow-giving results of night creams. Not only do these cleanses ensure that your skin is squeaky clean but it also helps improve radiance, reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, and enhances skin tone and clarity.
Of course, we shouldn’t forget about using glycolic acid-infused products as an at-home peel. When used as a skin exfoliant, it not only improves skin tone and texture but it also reduces the signs of sun damage, hyperpigmentation, and acne scarring.
Glycolic acid products can also be used to treat whiteheads. Since it gently exfoliates the skin, it can dissolve whiteheads and other pore-clogging impurities giving you smoother and clearer skin over time.
If you have rough or calloused feet, you can also use glycolic acid-based products to slough away and soften your soles.
Things to Consider When Using Glycolic Acid
While AHAs like glycolic acids can be used daily, you need to let your skin get used to it. Try using a product with a lower concentration of glycolic acid or use it a few times a week at first to see how it adapts. Once you’ve built a tolerance to it, you can increase the concentration or the frequency of use.
Glycolic acid can also make your skin more sensitive to the sun. It is important to use sunscreen every day when you’re using products containing this AHA.