In The Beauty Light: Glycolic Acid

Are you wondering what exactly Glycolic Acid is and if it’s right for you? Well, we’ve got you covered! This ingredient is under our beauty microscope this week. Keep reading to find out more!

What is Glycolic Acid?

Glycolic acid is a sugarcane-derived water soluble alpha hydroxy acid (AHA). Glycolic acid facilitates exfoliation and helps to differentiate the associations between keratinocytes (skin cells) and the outer layer of skin without using harsh, mechanical exfoliation techniques.In the skincare industry, it is one of the most well known and commonly used alpha-hydroxy acids.


It Has Small Molecules

The small molecules of glycolic acid reach the skin’s surface more deeply than those of other AHA’s with larger molecules, such as lactic acid. The deep penetration promotes collagen synthesis, which helps avoid fine lines and wrinkles by thickening and firming the skin.

Helps With Hyperpigmentation 

Glycolic acid exfoliates and extracts dead skin cells from the surface of the skin, exposing a new layer of skin with a much more uniform colour. This method helps to fade hyperpigmentation when used on a regular basis.

Brightens And Smoothens The Skin

Glycolic acid is a holy grail of exfoliation because its tiny molecules penetrate deep under the surface of your skin and break down bonds between dead skin cells. It exfoliates the skin making it brighter, cleaner and softer.

Acne Fighting Agent 

Glycolic acid is a keratolytic, which means it can break dead skin cells on the surface and open any clogged pores – this reduces existing acne and preserves clean skin. 

Hydrates The Skin

Glycolic acid is classified as a humectant because it chemically draws water molecules into the skin. This means glycolic acid will replenish the skin’s moisture levels.

Potential Side Effects

Glycolic acid isn’t recommended for everyone. Swelling, itching, burning and acne getting worse are some of the side effects of using glycolic acid. It can be too painful for those who have dry or sensitive skin. Consult your dermatologist regarding glycolic acid and whether it will suit your particular skin type. Patch testing is recommended to prevent any side effects on your skin: To see if your skin is sensitive to glycolic acid, apply it to a small area once a day for three days and make sure to begin with one application per day.

Incorporating It Into Your Skincare Routine

Glycolic acid products can only be used during the night because glycolic acid (and all other AHAs) make your skin more vulnerable to UV rays. The best way to use it is to squeeze a pea-sized amount and avoid the eyes, lips and mouth when applying. 

Since glycolic acid dissolves dead skin cells, it’s best to use it all over your face to get an even exfoliation but keep in mind, excessive discomfort can be caused by using too much of it. Do not scrub your skin as it’s a chemical exfoliator so allow the product to absorb and work its magic. Lastly, remember to exfoliate only once or twice a week as exfoliating too much can cause inflammation, breakouts and even premature aging.

After using glycolic acid, apply moisturiser. This will help hydrate your skin to avoid any possible inflammation or redness. Again, minor redness and discomfort are to be expected and should subside with consistent use. Glycolic acid exfoliates dead skin and reveals new skin, but this new skin is sensitive to UV rays and is more vulnerable to sun damage. As a result, use sunscreen everyday – this is essential. There’s no two ways about it!

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