Let’s talk about glycolic acid. You may have seen it listed on the label of skincare products or heard about its use in chemical peels, but how much do you really know about this powerful skincare ingredient?
What is Glycolic Acid?
Glycolic acid is a naturally occurring ingredient found in many skincare products that belongs to the alpha hydroxy acid (AHA) family – a group of active compounds found in foods. Derived from sugar cane, this popular AHA is safe enough to be used while breastfeeding and has many benefits when added to skincare products. It functions as an exfoliator, a form of skincare product that sloughs off dead skin from the top layer of skin, and because it is comprised of the smallest molecules in the AHA group, it is able to easily penetrate the outer layer of skin and offer more effective exfoliation than any of the other alpha hydroxy acids.
How Does Glycolic Acid Work?
Glycolic acid works by speeding up cell turnover. Its small size allows it to quickly penetrate the top layer of skin and safely dissolve the bonds that hold dull and dead skin cells together. The dead skin cells can then be shed more rapidly than they would on their own, revealing smoother and more radiant skin.
What Are The Benefits of Glycolic Acid?
Anti-Aging – Glycolic acid is largely regarded as an anti-aging ingredient due to its ability to help smooth fine lines, improve skin tone and reduce the appearance of dark spots caused by old acne scars or sun damage. By introducing an effective exfoliator, like glycolic acid, into your skincare routine, you can help combat the appearance of aging and reveal brighter, more vibrant skin.
Acne Treatment – Whether it’s a small breakout that popped up overnight or an acne cyst; almost every type of acne is caused by the same problem: clogged pores. Glycolic acid works to exfoliate and remove dead skin cells, which in turn helps keep pores clear from blockages and prevents new breakouts from forming.
Collagen Production – Collagen is a protein that occurs throughout the body, but is especially present in the skin. Over time, collagen production begins to decline due to age and other environmental factors, like sun exposure, leading to an increased appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. The use of glycolic acid products can help slow the breakdown of collagen in your skin and even stimulate collagen production resulting in a smoother skin texture.
Things to Consider When Using Glycolic Acid
- Your skin may take time to adjust. The percentage of glycolic acid varies from product to product. Using a percentage that is too high for your skin or starting out using it too often can cause redness or flaking.
- Sunscreen Sunscreen Sunscreen. You should always wear sunscreen. However, AHA products can make your skin more susceptible to sun damage, so it is absolutely necessary to make sure your skin is protected while using glycolic acid products.
- Respect the product and what it is trying to accomplish. Glycolic acid products encourage exfoliation, which means irritation can occur, but when used correctly you will see visible improvements in your skin’s overall appearance.
How To Use Glycolic Acid
There are many different types of glycolic acid products. Commonly used in chemical peels, we have now seen an increased demand for topical products like cleansers, serums and moisturizers. Choosing the best treatment for you, depends largely on your skin type and what you are trying to accomplish.
The frequency with which you use glycolic acid products may vary based the type and potency of the products you choose to invest in, but almost all topical products are safe and recommended for everyday use and can be used concurrently with more concentrated procedures like chemical peels.
Skin Wellness Center of Alabama: Your AHA Experts
At Skin Wellness Center of Alabama, we offer chemical peels that utilize glycolic acid as well as a number of great topical products from Glyderm and SkinCeuticals. If you’re interested in learning more about how glycolic acid can help improve your skin, schedule a consultation with us today!