Glycolic Acid: All You Need To Know!

You’ve probably heard about Glycolic Acid as the exfoliant of choice for most celebrities and influencers. In fact, you may already be using it in your skincare routine, without realising so! What makes glycolic acid the gold standard in chemical exfoliants? We tell you all about this gentle acid and how your skin stands to gain from it – no matter the type!

‘Skincare’ and ‘acid’ are two terms that, in a sense, should not be put together. Skincare is all about nourishing and enhancing, whereas acids sting and burn just by hearing their names. Alpha hydroxy acids – or AHAs for short – are an exception.

This family of skincare acids, derived from plants and animals, are powerhouses in anti-ageing, brightening, and skin repair. They are most known for their ability to exfoliate dead skin cells and reveal a smoother, healthier complexion.

Take, for example, glycolic acid, a cult-favourite among the AHA group. This particular acid is a skincare essential, arguably the most effective exfoliant today. Its ability to go deep into pores and resurface new skin makes it the ultimate ingredient for glowing, youthful skin. Without further ado, we present glycolic acid, the essential skincare ingredient you need – stat!

What is Glycolic Acid?

Glycolic acid is an AHA(also known as alpha hydroxy acid) or a chemical exfoliant that is commonly derived from sugarcane. This natural fruit acid exfoliates the outermost layer of the skin(dead skin cells) to reveal a brighter and more even complexion. Sensitive skin types that worry about using acids can also easily use it as Glycolic Acid is far gentler on the skin in comparison to its counterparts.

There is something special about glycolic acid that sets it apart from the rest of the group. Well, yes, it is the most studied one, but it also has the simplest structure and the lowest molecular weight. And what is so great about low molecular weight? It means that it can penetrate your skin deeper to supercharge repair from within.

As the smallest, water-soluble AHA, glycolic acid is able to penetrate deeply into the pores. Do you have dry skin and find chemical exfoliation too harsh on your skin? It also acts as a humectant, attracting to and holding onto moisture in the skin. This makes glycolic acid a great option for anyone with dry skin, who otherwise thinks that chemical exfoliation is too strong for them.

Glycolic Acid

How does Glycolic Acid help the skin?

An answer to almost all skincare troubles – acne, fine lines or dull skin, Glycolic acid is the gentler skincare hero you’ve been seeking all your life! The acid shifts dead skin cells from the surface of the skin to reveal a fresh complexion. It also works wonders on wrinkles, pigmentation and sun damage to reveal a more even-toned complexion.  

Here’s an explanation on how this acid works. Your skin is almost like a lasagne with tight layers. However, instead of rich béchamel and meat, the layers inside are made of dead skin cells. These layers of dead skin are all bonded by a glue-like substance of tight junctions. Here is where this miracle exfoliant begins its work! It cuts off those glue-like bonds to boost cell regeneration and dissolve debris in the pores. This is why it works like magic against your skin woes, which we’ll get to in a bit.

When glycolic acid is applied to the skin, it activates the production of natural collagen fibres and cell turnover. Skin hydration is also boosted due to its ability to stimulate the skin’s natural production of hyaluronic acid. Is there anything it can’t do?

use a glycolic acid face wash

What are the skin benefits?

Gently exfoliates the skin

Because glycolic acid can break the tight bonds in the skin, it quickly gets rid of dead skin cells. 

Helps treat acne

It penetrates deep into the pores and works double-time to clear out dirt, oil, or dead skin cells that cause acne. This acid also decreases inflammation and fights acne-causing bacteria.

Promotes younger-looking skin

This magical skin hero can stimulate fibroblasts in the skin. Fibroblasts boost collagen production, which, in turn, keeps your skin smooth and firm. It effectively reduces the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles, and other signs of ageing. 

Brightens the skin

It also helps brighten the skin, fade dark spots, and even the skin tone.

glycolic acid

Who should use Glycolic Acid?

As with any acid, remember to go slow and small. Having said that, glycolic acid is truly the ingredient for anyone and everyone. As it is well tolerated by most skin types, this universally accepted acid is added to a lot of skincare products that you may see around you.

However, those with sensitive skin should remember that glycolic acid can still irritate your skin so make sure you start with lower percentages of concentration and use it only 1-2 times a week. As your skin gets used to the acid, you can move up in numbers and frequency.

Glycolic Acid percentages to start with

For those who want to go slow and small, buying the right percentage of glycolic acid can often get confusing. There are different percentages available in the market, starting from 5, 7, 10 and going all the way up to 30 or higher.

The higher percentages of glycolic acid are used in chemical peels done at a doctor’s clinic as they are able to manage the process and potential redness in a professional setting. When it comes to home use, you should go with a lower over-the-counter percentage or at least start with one at first.

Even at low concentrations, this multi-tasker is able to impart multiple benefits such as brightening, anti-ageing, acne and pigmentation reduction. Believe us when we say, once you start, it will be a skincare match you’ll love!

glycolic acid at night

How can I add glycolic acid to my routine?

First things first, this skincare superhero is not for everyone. As good as it is for the skin, it can irritate dry or sensitive skin types. However, it is still relatively gentle for other skin types, especially oily and acne-prone. One more thing, you should NEVER use it with retinol or other acids. Doing so puts your skin at risk for extreme dryness and irritation.

The best time to use glycolic acid is at night because it can make your skin extremely sensitive to the sun. Make sure to also start with low concentrations, then slowly work your way up. 

For a full range of effective skincare containing Glycolic Acid, explore the range on Cosmetics Now today!