Glycolic acid is a multipurpose ingredient in skin care products. Glycolic acid can be found in numerous cosmetics products ranging from skin lotions, to acne gels, to facial peels. As such, glycolic acid is an invaluable part of a successful skin care routine. Glycolic acid is effective in treating sun-damaged skin, oily skin, dry skin, acne-prone skin, acne scars, wrinkles, and more.
Glycolic acid belongs to the family of alpha-hydroxy acids, a group of natural chemicals derived from fruits (citric acid is another example of an alpha-hydroxy acid). Glycolic acid itself is isolated from sugar cane. Glycolic acid can be corrosive when applied in high enough concentrations. For this reason, any product containing glycolic acid at a concentration higher than 10% is considered to be hazardous. The majority of skin care products do not contain glycolic acid in a concentration higher than 10%. While high concentrations of glycolic acid can be dangerous, concentrations that are too low may be ineffective. Try to find glycolic acid products with a concentration ranging from 8% to 10%. Concentrations for glycolic acid peels will be much higher.
Glycolic Acid Benefits
When used in skin care products, glycolic acid is a natural exfoliant and moisturizer. It is the high acidity of glycolic acid that results in its excellent exfoliant properties. When applied to the skin, glycolic acid penetrates below the superficial layers of skin and breaks up the “glue” that holds these dead skin cells together.
Once the superficial skin layers have been broken up, they can be removed, leaving a softer, smoother layer of skin beneath. Glycolic acid also draws moisturizers into the skin. Many cosmetics product lines offer a complete skin care system. Skin care systems ensure that the effects of glycolic acid reach their full potential, as well as neutralizing the corrosive potential of glycolic acid on the skin.
Glycolic Acid for Acne
When using glycolic acid for daily skin care routines, it is often combined with salicylic acid. While glycolic acid breaks up dead skin cells, salicylic acid encourages their removal from your skin surface, opening pores and leaving skin feeling smooth and revitalized.
Glycolic Acid Peels
Whether you wish to treat acne blemishes or to restore natural beauty to your skin, glycolic acid peels provide a safe and effective opportunity for smooth, beautiful, and rejuvenated skin. Concentrations of glycolic acid can reach up to 50%, which gives you a chance to decide the strength of the glycolic acid peel you use. Typical glycolic acid peel procedures involve weekly facial peels for up to 6 weeks.
Glycolic Acid Side Effects & Cautions
Glycolic acid makes skin more sensitive to sunburn, so application of glycolic acid should always be followed up with sunscreen. If you are concerned about acne, make sure you choose a sunscreen that is “noncomedogenic” and oil-free.
A glycolic acid peel might very well contain glycolic acid in a concentration as high as 50%, and as such, skin immediately following a glycolic acid peel appears as though it is extremely sunburned. This redness will generally last a few days. Make sure to avoid exposure to sunlight while you are recovering from a glycolic acid peel.
by Lindsay Strachan – Find more information and advice for treating and preventing acne at the