Well, the word ‘acid’ may bring thoughts of chemical burns for most of us. But when used in the right proportions, acids are some of the most amazing components in skincare products. You may be surprised to know that they are the magical tool used to treat acne, wrinkles, age spots, and uneven skin tone. One such acid that is potential in combatting acne and enhancing skin health is glycolic acid. This alpha hydroxy acid is obtained from sugarcane which helps to treat several common skin woes.

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Read this article to know what glycolic acid is, and how to use it for your skincare.

What Is Glycolic Acid?

Glycolic acid is a water-soluble alpha hydroxy acid (AHA) made from sugar cane and one of the most widely used AHAs in cosmetics and skincare essentials. AHAs are natural acids found in plants that comprise tiny molecules and are very easy for the skin to absorb. This property makes them ideal for fading away fine lines, enhancing skin texture and delaying signs of ageing.

Also Read: Ceramides: Discover The Surprising Beauty Benefits Of This Fatty Acid

How Does Glycolic Acid Work?

Glycolic acid is made up of the smallest-sized molecules of all the AHAs, which lets acid easily penetrate the skin and exfoliate it much better than other AHAs. Glycolic acid speeds up the cell turnover by dissolving the bonds that hold skin cells together. Thereby helping the skin to fend off dead skin cells more quickly.

Glycolic acid activates the skin to produce more collagen, the protein that makes your skin look firm, plump, and elastic. It also offers strength to the bones and connective tissues. Also, as you age skin makes very less collagen. It is also damaged when you spend more time in the sun. Thus, using glycolic acid in your regular skincare regimen can prevent the breakdown of collagen.

Skin Healing Benefits of Glycolic Acid

  • Anti-aging: It works remarkably well to smooth fine lines, and wrinkles and enhances skin tone and complexion
  • Hydrates: It locks the moisture, plumps the skin, and averts it from getting dry
  • Protects From Sun Damage: It supports diminishing dark patches and pigmentation caused due to suntan and shields collagen from the sun
  • Enhance Skin Complexion: It revitalizes the skin's radiance and complexion when used regularly
  • Exfoliate: It averts the growth of unwanted hair and unclogs the pores in the skin by shedding dead skin cells and making the skin look clear
  • Combats Acne: It is a key ingredient for treating acne breakouts by stimulating cell turnover and regulating blackheads, and back acne breakouts


Also Read: Skin Barrier Role And Function: 5 Effective Ways To Shield This Protective Layer

How To Use Glycolic Acid?

Glycolic acid is available in various forms including over the counter (OTC) and prescription treatments, these include:

  • Face washes
  • Lotions
  • Peels
  • Serums
  • Skincare pads

Things To Know Before Using Glycolic Acid:

Glycolic acid is a chemical exfoliant and not scrub, the acid can diffuse deeper and produce greater exfoliation over time. So, you don’t need to exfoliate with scrubs when using glycolic acid, as your face may feel very sensitive.

Always go for one product containing glycolic acid and don’t use multiple ones. With occasional spot treatments, it should be adequate to maintain skin health and complexion.

Wear sunscreen whenever you are using glycolic acid treatments, as all AHAs can make the skin sensitive to the sun.

Let the skin get used to glycolic acid, if you are using an OTC product, begin by applying it thrice a week for a week or so. If your skin isn’t red, inflamed, or irritated, then try using it four times a week for a week or two.

Well, the skin may feel a little rough after the first few sessions, this is quite normal, and it means that the acid is working. Unless the skin is irritated keep using the glycolic acid product and you would slowly begin to experience smoother and healthier skin.

It is important to get advice from your dermatologist before using any product containing glycolic acid.

Side Effects

Glycolic acid isn’t safe for everyone. Some of the common reactions to this include:

  • Swelling
  • Itching
  • Burning sensations

Also, glycolic acid may not suit for people with dry or sensitive skin types, and it may be too irritating. Furthermore, some people may find they’re more sensitive to the sun when they use glycolic acid, thus applying sunscreen can help lessen sun exposure risks.