Every skin type needs exfoliation and cleansing for glowing health. But the biggest problem with exfoliation is you never know how much is too much. One often tends to overdo it, and that results in dryness and premature skin aging.
Glycolic acid is an alpha hydroxy acid (AHA) that is considered as a wonder ingredient for skin exfoliation. This soothing and miraculous acid is widely used as an ingredient for many products that are used for anti-aging, hyperpigmentation, dryness, and acne. Its keratolytic properties exfoliate dead skin cells from the skin’s surface, thereby reducing fine lines and wrinkles, fading hyperpigmentation, and clearing acne.
What Is Glycolic Acid?
Glycolic acid is an alpha hydroxy acid that is derived from sugarcane. Apart from being an excellent exfoliating agent, it is also a humectant. This means that it has the ability to draw moisture from the atmosphere to itself. So when you use glycolic acid on your skin, it first exfoliates your skin and then draws moisture to your exfoliated skin, thereby preventing fine lines and wrinkles.
Benefits Of Glycolic Acid
- Hydration: Glycolic acid acts as a humectant for the skin. It replenishes your skin with fresh moisture and hydrates it in two ways. One, it attracts moisture from the atmosphere and second, it attracts moisture from deeper layers of skin. In a humid environment, the acid will attract moisture from the water content in the air. But if you live in dry weather conditions or during winter, when there is not enough water in the air, glycolic acid attracts moisture from the deeper layers of the skin. On coming to the surface of the skin, this moisture may evaporate due to dryness in the weather. It is then important to use a thick moisturiser on top of the glycolic acid so that the moisture from the skin does not evaporate.
- Exfoliation: As new skin cells are generated every day, the external layer of the skin loses moisture and becomes tough and gets detached. This detached layer of older skin also contains harmful body toxins, pollutants and microorganisms that the skin extracted from the environment. This detached contaminated skin may take a long time to fall off from your skin naturally, depending on an individual’s health and age. Glycolic acid helps in exfoliating or removing these impurities from the skin manually. Accumulation of the layer of dead skin for a long time can result in breakouts, dullness and premature aging.
- Reduces Signs Of Aging: Exfoliating the top layer of the skin reduces the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines. Exfoliation speeds up new skin cell generation and this increases collagen production, thereby improving your skin’s ability to retain the moisture it absorbs. It is however important to remember that glycolic acid cannot magically erase wrinkles and fine lines from your face. It can only prevent them from appearing and make the already present fine lines unnoticeable. So keep applying it as the effect lasts as long as the chemical lasts on your skin.
- Fighting Acne: Dead skin and impurities that accumulate on your skin are the root cause of acne breakouts. Glycolic acid exfoliates dead skin and stops your skin from breaking out. Also, glycolic acid is keratolytic, which means it has the ability to shed the dead skin layer and remove impurities from your pores.
- Reduces Pigmentation: Hyperpigmentation marks like dark spots, age spots, freckles, acne marks etc are darkest on the top most layer of your skin. The underlying layers of your skin are not as pigmented as the uppermost layer. Glycolic acid exfoliates and removes the topmost layer and reveals the less pigmented underlying layers. With regular use, glycolic acid will exfoliate all the pigmented layers of your skin, bringing forth clear skin.
- Gly Your Skin: By exfoliating your skin deeply, glycolic acid also prepares an easy passage for the penetration of other skincare products. When all the dead skin is removed, other skin care products will work faster on your skin, giving you better and quicker results.
In one way glycolic acid can be considered as the foundation of a healthy skin as the effectiveness of other skin care products depend on this.
How To Use Glycolic Acid?
You can find glycolic acid in almost every cosmetic product that is used for spot removal and anti-aging. You can use it in the form of cleansers, peels and creams. Here are some things that you need to know about using glycolic acid
- Glycolic acid products should be used only at night. This is because it makes your skin sensitive to UV rays.
- Identify your skin type before using glycolic acid. It is not advisable to use on sensitive skin. Do a patch test and first see how your skin reacts to it and then continue.
- It is advisable to start with products having only 10% glycolic acid in them. You can increase the glycolic acid content in your products, once your skin gets adjusted to it.
- Apply the product evenly all throughout your face for even exfoliation and even tone.
- Since glycolic acid is a chemical that can cause irritation on your skin, always use it in very small amounts.
- Do not use it more than twice a week or it may over-exfoliate and can cause irritation, redness, breakouts and dryness.
- If you are living in a dry region or have normal to dry skin, heavy moisturization is a must after using glycolic acid.
- Exfoliation causes dryness in the skin and a lack of moisture in the atmosphere around you can make your skin irritated and dry.
- Make a habit of using moisturizer every time you use glycolic acid.
- If you use glycolic acid based products during the day or before going out, do apply sunscreen too.
- Fresh exfoliated skin is extra sensitive to UV rays and sunscreen helps in protecting the skin.
What Not To Use WIth Glycolic Acid?
- You should never combine vitamin C with glycolic acid, as this may decrease the efficiency of the acid.
- Never use vitamin B3 with glycolic acid, as glycolic acid has a low pH level and vitamin B3 requires a neutral pH level to work effectively.
- Avoid the usage of retinol with glycolic acid.
If you haven’t used glycolic acid as part of your skin care routine till now, then it’s high time that you start. But first identify your skin type and consult your dermatologist regarding any sensitivity issue. Once your skin agrees with this acid and you start using it regularly, noticable differences such as an even tone, acne-free and hydrated skin can be seen.
Soumya is passionate about writing and loves to share her thoughts with the world. She is a regular contributor to skinkraft.com, Vedix and a few other websites. She has written many articles on yoga, fitness, wellness, remedies, and beauty. She keeps herself updated by going through interesting blogs every day. This fuels her passion and motivates her to write appealing and engaging articles.