Meet your skin’s new best friend- glycolic acid. While the word acid can seem a bit intimidating, this skin care ingredient has a wide variety of benefits for almost every skin type. It helps many common skin care problems and leaves your skin looking refreshed and vibrant after just one application.
Today, my friend Andrea from thebestorganicskincare.com is guest posting about this amazing skincare ingredient and the benefits of glycolic acid. I hope you enjoy!
What is Glycolic Acid?
Glycolic acid is a naturally occurring acid found in plants like sugar cane, beets, and pineapple. It is a part of a group of active compounds known as alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs). It has the smallest molecule size of the group which enables it to penetrate the skin deeply and easily, thus giving you the best results in the shortest time compared to other AHAs. Glycolic acid is used in a variety of skin care products, particularly chemical peels.
How Does it Work?
Glycolic acid works as an excellent exfoliator. It reacts with the top layer of your skin, breaking it down by dissolving sebum and other substances that bind cells together. This ‘unglues’ the dead skin cells from each other so that they can fall off, revealing brighter, smoother, younger-looking skin, in addition to other things.
Who Should Use Glycolic Acid?
Glycolic acid is beneficial for almost all skin types when used with care and in appropriate quantities. If you have extremely sensitive skin or rosacea you may find it too irritating, but generally, as long as your skin has some natural oil production you should be fine.
In fact, glycolic acid can be less irritating than other exfoliants because, unlike scrubs, it doesn’t contain any abrasive elements. If you have sensitive skin, look for products that combine the glycolic acid with an amino acid. This will help slow the acid’s penetration into the skin and prevent irritation. Also, go easy in the beginning. Irritation can take a while to show up. You may have no issues for a few days and then all the sudden it appears; so take a month or so to ramp up to daily use.
Another common question is whether glycolic acid is safe for use on darker skin tones. Generally, it’s fine as long as you stay away from the stronger formulas, which can occasionally cause pigmentation and irritation.
A general rule of thumb is to start with a lower concentration to slowly introduce your skin to the acid and see how it reacts. From there you can work your way up to higher concentrations.
However, if you’re under 18 you should stay away from using at-home glycolic peels and other products with high concentrations of glycolic acid. Preteens and teens should seek to get the benefits of glycolic acid through basic cleansers containing a low concentration of the acid. This should be enough to prevent blackheads and acne.
Benefits of Glycolic Acid
Besides being a great exfoliator, glycolic acid helps with a variety of other issues such as clogged pores, acne, aging, and hyperpigmentation. In order to get the largest benefit, the pH of the product should be between 3 and 4; however, products often won’t have this labeled on the packaging.
One way to tell is by how the product reacts with your skin. Experts say your skin should tingle for a few seconds when you apply the product- this is how you know it’s penetrating. Expect to see immediate benefits; effective products should leave your skin looking refreshed after only one use.
All acne, ranging from little blackheads to huge acne cysts, starts from dead cells getting clogged up in our pores. The main benefit of glycolic acid is that it loosens those dead cells, so it’s not surprising that it works wonders in reducing and healing acne.
Exfoliation using acids is important for oily and acne-prone skin because their natural exfoliation is much slower than other skin types.
Due to its small molecule size, glycolic acid is able to get down deep into the hair follicles and loosen any built-up sebum and proteins that could lead to blackheads and breakouts down the road as well.
Aged and dull skin is often a result of clogged pores. Those same dead skin cells that stick together and cause acne also make your skin appear less vibrant.
When we were kids and teenagers our cell turnover happened quite rapidly, but this slows down as we age so sometimes our skin needs a little extra help. Glycolic acid provides this help, removing old skin cells and making your skin smoother, softer and more vibrant.
The exfoliating powers of glycolic acid also help with pigmentation. Essentially, the extra pigment created from old acne scars, age spots, sun damage, and melasma is stored for weeks in our dead cell layer. Glycolic acid cleanses out this dead cell layer and gets rid of these stores of extra pigment, evening out our skin tone.
Makes Other Products Absorb Better
The exfoliating properties of glycolic acid make it great for prepping your skin for other products. By removing all of the dead skin cells, glycolic acid allows other skin products to penetrate deeper than they could on their own. Other acne medications, such as retinol, and other anti-aging products and antioxidants, like vitamin C, are able to function better this way.
Note: When using glycolic acid you must wear sunscreen, this is because it makes skin more sensitive to the sun, leading to hyperpigmentation and sunburn if your skin isn’t protected.
To Sum it Up
Glycolic acid is an extremely versatile skin care ingredient that has numerous benefits and is safe for virtually every skin type.
This magical ingredient regenerates collagen, thickens the epidermis and dermis, and evens skin tone. Moral of the story is, next time you need a quick freshen up, reach for a glycolic acid peel or cleanser.
Have you ever used glycolic acid? How has it helped your skin? Please share in the comments below!
You may also enjoy reading:
How to Use an At-Home Glycolic Peel for Your Face
Is Your Exfoliant Damaging Your Skin?
Are You Sick and Tired of Curing Hyperpigmentation The Old Way?
Natural Sources of Salicylic Acid for Acne—From Fruit!
Are Papaya Enzymes the Answer to Banishing Red, Splotchy, Uneven Skin Tone?
Essential Oils for Specific Skin Types