Glycolic Acid in Skincare: The Golden Standard of Exfoliation
This superstar skincare ingredient will help you quickly shed off the outermost dead skin cell layer, exposing a fresh layer of smooth, bright, and radiant skin. And as a bonus, it will keep your pores clean, resulting in the prevention of acne breakouts.
So many uses of just one skincare ingredient. Could it be that good? Absolutely, but only if used right.
In this guide, you’ll learn how this Acid works, what benefits it offers, and decide if it’s right for you.
Table of Contents
What Is a Glycolic Acid in skincare?
This skincare ingredient comes from sugar cane, and it’s one of many alpha-hydroxy acids or AHAs. It has the tiniest molecules out of all AHAs, which can penetrate the skin more easily. In skin care, it is used as a chemical peel to exfoliate the upper skin layers consisting of dead cells.
The most incredible benefit is its ability to dissolve or break down the bond that holds dead skin cells together. With this, it speeds up your skin cell turnover rate and regeneration, exposing a brighter and smoother complexion.
The Science Behind Glycolic Acid
It is an alpha-hydroxy acid with the lowest molecular weight out of all AHAs, so it can penetrate your skin easier. This Acid acts as a chemical peel and dissolves the “glue” holding dead cells together. With this it exfoliates your skin, keeps your pores open, and promotes a faster cell turnover.
Skincare Benefits of Glycolic Acid
Compared to other AHAs, this Acid can penetrate the skin the best, thus offering a broad spectrum of skincare benefits:
Exfoliates and keeps your pores clean
The exfoliation feature of glycolic acid is what keeps your pores clean and unclogged, thus having an anti-acne effect on acne-prone skin. Dermatologists warn against using physical exfoliators which scrub the skin because they can be too abrasive. Instead, we recommend using a chemical exfoliant with AHA, which has a much gentler effect.
Faster skin regeneration and cell turnover
As the name itself suggests, it is an acid that has an abrasive effect, dissolving the bond between dead skin cells and helping your skin get rid of them faster. With a faster skin cell turnover, glycolic acid lets you expose a new, fresh skin layer underneath that’s free of any imperfections.
Anti-aging and collagen boosting
Fades dark spots and hyperpigmentation
It can fade hyperpigmentation and age spots. These skin imperfections are on the outer layers of the skin. With regular use of AHA products, you’ll speed up the shedding of dead skin cells and expose a new skin layer underneath. This exfoliating principle makes glycolic acid suitable for treating dark spots, especially ones caused by sun damage.
Returns the natural moisture of the skin
It also has humectant properties, and when used correctly, it returns your skin’s ability to retain moisture efficiently. Dry skin can benefit a lot from this feature of AHA. However, be careful of your sensitivity to glycolic acid. A product that’s too strong can have the opposite effect and dry out your skin too much.
Glycolic Acid Side Effects
We want to start by saying that some slight tingling is expected when using AHA skincare products. After all, glycolic acid is a chemical peel, and it’s supposed to help you shed off the damaged and dead skin cells. Once it starts working on your skin, you’ll start feeling a tickling or tingling sensation.
Something like that is normal and expected. However, if you experience redness, a rash, itching, or burning, the product might be too strong for you.
Who Can Use Glycolic Acid?
People with sensitive skin can also use AHA products, but we recommend doing a test patch first. Start by applying products with a lower concentration once a week and gradually increasing concentration and application times.
How to Use Glycolic Acid?
A natural cleanser with AHA typically has a lower concentration of active acid, so it’s more suitable for sensitive skin types. On the other hand, if you have skin that handles AHAs well, you could use the resurfacing night peel serum with 10% glycolic acid by NUME-Lab Switzerland for the best results.
Glycolic Acid at Home?
For home use, the maximum recommended concentration is 10%. If you’re using a cleanser with only traces of this AHA, you can use it multiple times a week. But, if you’re using a concentrated serum, once or twice a week is more than enough. A good practice is to start using products with a lower concentration and gradually increase.
And remember, glycolic acid and other AHAs make your skin more susceptible to sun damage, so it’s better to apply such products at night, before bedtime. The morning after your AHA treatment, use sunscreen with SPF 50 to prevent skin damage.
Glycolic Acid KEY FACTS
AHA, Exfoliator, Humectant
|MAIN BENEFITS||faster cell turnover, exfoliation, promotes collagen production, fades hyperpigmentation and dark spots, anti-aging, and anti-wrinkle|
|WHO CAN USE IT|
aging skin, acne-prone skin, oily skin, combined skin, skin with dark spots or hyperpigmentation, dry skin
|HOW TO USE|
once or maximum twice a week, at nighttime, as a glycolic acid cleanser or a night serum with glycolic acid
|NOT RECOMMENDED FOR||avoid using leave-on products with higher concentrations of glycolic acid if you have sensitive skin|
hyaluronic acid and other natural ingredients such as Snail Mucin Extract, Allantoin, etc.
|DON’T MIX WITH|
retinoids and other abrasive acids