Whether your challenge is perpetually dry skin, sun damage, acne scars, or dull skin or you just want to maintain your beautiful skin as you age, glycolic acid—like other alpha hydroxy (AHA) and beta hydroxy (BHA) acids—is one of the best ways to improve your skin. AHAs and BHAs are incredibly effective ingredients that deliver visible results.
Glycolic acid is a type of exfoliating alpha-hydroxy acid that is derived from sugarcane. It is water-soluble and works by breaking down the top layer of dead skin cells (along with pollution, grime, and anything else that may clog pores) through a natural chemical exfoliation process allowing dead skin to be easily removed from the surface leaving behind fresh, clear skin. The advantage of chemical exfoliation is that it’s extremely even when compared to physical exfoliation. Glycolic acid is a commonly used ingredient in skin care products to exfoliate and improve skin texture, smoothness, and tone.
Glow-Worthy Results With Glycolic Acid
Yes, glycolic acid-containing skincare products have become increasingly popular due to the growing interest in active and effective ingredients that can deliver visible results quickly. The results are the reason glycolic acid and other AHAs are so loved by so many skin types – they help unclog pores, soften the appearance of fine lines, minimise dark spots, and also increase moisture levels in the skin. Glycolic acid has been shown to be a versatile ingredient that can help address a range of skin concerns, from acne to fine lines and dullness, to hyperpigmentation. After a good exfoliation with glycolic acid, your skin should feel soft and smooth and look visibly glowier.
Like all exfoliants, glycolic and other AHAs facilitate the absorption of any treatment that follows. Different types of acids promote different benefits, so it’s often useful to combine them with skin treatments. Glycolic acid, for instance, is the smallest molecule among the alpha hydroxy acids, so it can penetrate deeper into the layers of the skin and was originally developed for extremely dry skin. The concentrations of a particular acid, as well as the method the acid is delivered, can make a big difference in your results – at lower concentrations (about 10%), AHAs can be gentle enough for even sensitive skin, and at higher concentrations (say 15% or more), AHAs can work in powerful ways to retexturise, clarify, and refine skin.
Of course, it’s essential to be mindful of your individual skin needs and to do a patch test of any new products before using them fully, and to follow the instructions on the product label exactly to avoid skin irritation and to ensure the desired results are achieved.
The Benefits of Glycolic Acid
There are many benefits one can derive from using products with glycolic acid:
Glycolic acid works to remove dead skin cells from the surface of the skin, revealing brighter and smoother skin underneath.
Using glycolic acid can help to even out skin tone and texture by reducing the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles, and other signs of aging.
Glycolic acid can stimulate the production of collagen, a protein that gives skin its firmness and elasticity.
Glycolic acid can help to reduce hyperpigmentation (dark spots) caused by sun damage, acne, and other factors.
The exfoliating action of glycolic acid can help other skincare products such as moisturizers, serums, and sunscreen, absorb more easily into the skin, and amplify their overall effect.
Aging and Glycolic Acid
The reality is that glycolic acid can benefit women of all ages. However, its specific benefits may vary depending on individual skin concerns and age-related changes. Here’s how glycolic acid can help women in their 20s, 30s, and 40s:
Women in their 20s
In the 20s, skin is generally still young and resilient. However, this is a crucial time to start establishing good skincare habits. Glycolic acid can help keep skin looking bright, fresh, and even-toned, reducing the appearance of hyperpigmentation, acne scars, or fine lines that may start to appear. By exfoliating the skin and promoting cell renewal, glycolic acid can provide an extra boost of radiance and prevent breakouts down the line.
Women in their 30s
In the 30s, the skin begins to show more signs of aging such as fine lines, wrinkles, dullness, and uneven texture. Glycolic acid can help address these concerns by increasing the production of collagen, which can improve skin elasticity and firmness. Glycolic acid can also help brighten the complexion, diminishing the appearance of age spots, sun damage, and other pigmentation issues.
Women in their 40s
In the 40s, the loss of collagen accelerates, and the skin begins to lose its elasticity and firmness. This can result in the appearance of deeper wrinkles, fine lines, and a dull, tired-looking complexion. Glycolic acid can help restore the skin’s radiance and smoothness by stimulating collagen production, promoting cell turnover, and reducing pigmentation concerns like sunspots, melasma, and age spots. Using glycolic acid-containing products in combination with other anti-aging ingredients such as Vitamin C, Retinoid, and Hyaluronic Acid can help address multiple signs of aging and bring back a healthier, youthful-looking complexion.
Regardless of your age, it’s important to choose the right concentration of glycolic acid for your skin type, follow the instructions on product labels, and introduce this key ingredient gradually into your skincare routine to avoid skin irritation. Patch-testing a product before use is also recommended to determine any individual sensitivity. If you have any concerns about the safety or efficacy of a particular glycolic acid product, you may want to consult a dermatologist or skincare professional.
This article is for informational purposes only. It is not, nor is it intended to be, a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis, or treatment. To the extent that this article features the advice of physicians, medical practitioners, or industry experts, the views expressed are the views of the cited expert and do not necessarily represent the views of Gaggler.