What Is Glycolic Acid And What It Does To Your Skin

What is Glycolic Acid in Skincare? This raved skincare ingredient is the solution for dull skin and acne-prone skin as in a matter of weeks you'll see obvious results.
You must have heard Glycolic Acid over a thousand times already as its a popular ingredient in skincare products nowadays. In its raw state, glycolic acid is a powder made up of colorless crystals that have no scent. It is known that Glycolic acid offers many benefits to the skin, from rejuvenating to moisturizing but do you know what it actually does to the skin? If you're looking into a product that promotes Glycolic Acid as the main ingredient, I'll be doing a short summary on Glycolic Acid and what it does to your skin for your understanding, so keep on reading. This might probably help you to purchase products based on Glycolic Acid.

What is Glycolic Acid?

Glycolic acid is an alpha hydroxy acid (AHA) that is known as a chemical exfoliator. 
Its ingredient is derived from plants, such as sugar cane, pineapple, and sugar beet, and does a number of beneficial things for the skin.

How Does Glycolic Acid Help Your Skin?

They say Glycolic Acid is the holy grail of Exfoliation!
Exfoliators are known to help remove dead cells on the surface of the skin. 
Dead skin cells are unable to mix with sebum hence leads to clogged pores which can lead to a breakout.
Exfoliators clears up dead skin cells and speeds up the process of skin renewal which leads to new healthy skin.

Hence, Glycolic Acid's main purpose is to create glowing skin!

Another thing is that it’s great at fighting off breakouts and said to be one of the best ingredients to treat acne, its like a booster for one of the body’s most important acne-fighting functions.

The Benefits of Glycolic Acid

1. Suitable For All Skin Types

No matter what skin type you have, this exfoliating agent should do you no harm as long as you use it properly. It's even safe enough to use on sensitive skins. Glycolic Acid can be used in our daily skincare products, without causing any irritation. 

2. Makes Skin Glow

Glycolic Acid works by gently by removing old skin cells that stick to the epidermis thus creating a speed for skin renewal. Hence, Glycolic Acid's reputation is widely known in turning dull skill into glowy skin in a matter of time.

3. Treats Acne

Glycolic Acid is one of the 'it' ingredients to treat acne. It's known to penetrate deep into the skin to treat cystic and regular breakouts, and also helps increase cell turnover, accelerates healing, and fades acne scars.

4. Refines Pores

Unclog, refine, and diminish the appearance of enlarged pores by dissolving makeup, dirt, oil, and excess sebum. Remember, healthy pores, leads to healthy skin which combats acne.

5. Combats Signs of Aging

Studies show that skincare with Glycolic Acid in it assists with boosting collagen production, which is great for plumping up the skin. 

6. Fades Discoloration

If you suffer from dull, pigmented or ageing skin, look to invest in a once a week exfoliating treatment or an at-home peel product infused with Glycolic Acid.  It can transfer water molecules from the air into the skin tissue, replenishing any lost moisture. This makes it an effective ingredient in moisturizers when used at low strengths. Since glycolic acid sloughs off the top layer of the skin, it can help fade and even pigmentation, brown spots, and melasma.

7. Improves texture

Glycolic acid is a skin-smoothing miracle worker. This chemical exfoliant turns up cellular turnover to resurface and retexturize skin, leaving it noticeably softer and smoother.

How To Use Glycolic Acid in Skincare?

It should be the same as any exfoliator.

Dull skin: 2-3 times a week
Good Skin: Once a week

However, there are some that say depending on a product, Glycolic Acid could be used daily. It depends on its potency also. However please do be extra careful as not all brands disclose on its potency.

How to use Glycolic Acid depends on what type of product you are using Glycolic Acid either cleanser, toner, serum or moisturiser. Do follow the instructions on the label.

Applying sunscreen afterwards is a must! Glycolic acid products tend to make the skin extra sensitive to sunlight.

Some advice to use Glycolic Acid at night as it should work better with the skin at rest and away from sunlight. However, this doesn't mean that it couldn't be used in your AM routine as long as you always apply sunscreen.

Risks Using Glycolic Acid

It can cause mild irritation on very sensitive skin
It's recommended to use in concentrations less than 10% which you’ll find in most acne medications. Most people use them without issues but if your skin shows negative reactions, please stop using it right away.

Other Things You Should Know About Glycolic Acid

1. Is It Ok To Use Glycolic Acid Every day?

Supposedly NO! But some say can, depending on the potency of a product but usually, brands would not disclose it. It's better to take precaution and use it on how it's advised.

2. What Happens If Use Glycolic Acid Ever Day?

Same as using exfoliators, overusing it can cause the skin to become red with possible burns. It could also cause dryness and photosensitivity, this leads to premature ageing, thinning of the skin and pigmentation.

3. Is Glycolic Acid Bad For Your Skin?

As long as you follow the correct guides, then NO. Generally, Glycolic Acid should be safe for all skin types. Bad reactions will only show if you make mistakes in using it.

4. What Ingredients Goes Well With Glycolic Acid?

There are quite a number of ingredients that go well with Glycolic Acid but below I'm just listing down some of the popular ones you can look into:
  • Hyaluronic Acid
  • Ceramide
  • Niacinamide

5. Can Glycolic Acid Be Used in Other Parts of The Body?

Yes! However, it does depend on which type of product you are using. My suggestion is to use a Glycolic Acid toner as its easier to be applied. Also, make sure that you follow the steps of applications as you do on your face, sunscreen is a must.

6. Do You Wash Off Glycolic Acid?

Depends. Glycolic Acid does fall into the 'peeling category' however chemical exfoliators are meant to be absorbed into the skin. So, in this case, you'll have to follow the instructions given on the product. Most products are leave-on but some do require washing it off.

7. What Should You Not Use Glycolic Acid With?

Active Ingredients such as Retinol, Vitamin C & Antioxidants

Too many highly active ingredients can also result in an imbalance within the skin, causing irritation and breakouts.

However, some say it depends on your tolerance also. If you’re already using retinol, using glycolic acid into your routine in addition might be too much. If your skin took a long time to adjust to the retinol, consider switching each day between retinol and an acid, instead of using both every day.

8. Is it safe to use Glycolic Acid while pregnant & breastfeeding?

Yes, it's said to be safe to use during pregnancy and while breastfeeding.

9. Does Glycolic Acid Oxidize?

Yes! Glycolic Acid should be stored in a dry and cool place away from sunlight. If it's oxidized,  it will neutralize its power hence using it will gain no result. Also, make sure you stay alert on its shelf life after a product is opened. Mostly serums tend to oxidize within 3 months.

Glycolic Acid Products

There are tons of Glycolic Acids in the market, but below are the products that I've used:

Overall, Glycolic Acid is a super-exfoliator that gets rid of dead skin cells so they can’t clog your pores. The hydration and healing qualities of glycolic acid help with the appearance of post-acne marks and discolouration and keep your skin smooth, resilient and healthy-looking. Thus, Glycolic Acid should be able to help with recovering cyst acne too if you're experiencing it.

I happened to test it out on myself. Read below to see the results.

Results using glycolic acid in skincare

Hope this post was informative for you.
Till then peeps!