Glycolic acid can be your best friend or your worst enemy. It all depends on how and when you use it. Glycolic acid is great for exfoliating your skin and getting rid of dead skin cells. It can also help to even out your skin tone and make your skin look brighter. However, if you use it too often or leave it on for too long, it can dry out your skin and make it look red and irritated. So, how do you know how and when to use glycolic acid? Keep reading to find out.
What Is Glycolic Acid?
Glycolic acid is a popular skincare ingredient that can be found in a variety of products, from cleansers to serums. It is naturally found in sugarcane and certain fruits. Its unique structure allows it to go deep within the skin and moisturize from the inside out.
Glycolic acid is an alpha hydroxy acid (AHA) that is derived from sugar cane. It is the smallest molecule in the AHA family, which means it can penetrate the skin more deeply than other AHAs
What Glycolic Acid Does to your skin?
Glycolic acid's unique makeup gives it many useful properties that make it the perfect ingredient for skincare products.
- Moisturizing: Glycolic acid is a humectant, which allows it to draw in moisture from the air and inner layers of the skin for a hydrating boost.
- Exfoliating: Glycolic acid is a chemical exfoliant, which dissolves and removes oil and the outermost layer of skin cells. This removes dead skin cells and unclogs pores.
- Antibacterial: Studies have shown that glycolic acid prevents the growth of bacteria at certain pH levels.
Smoothing: Glycolic acid helps with collagen in the skin dermis, one of the key building blocks of skin that is reduced as we age.
Perks of using Glycolic Acid in your skincare routine
The characteristics above make glycolic acid a powerful tool for meeting various skincare needs.
- Anti-Aging: Increased moisture help plump up the skin, reducing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles and inhibiting the formation of new ones.
- Even Skin: AHAs have been proven to improve the appearance of skin that has been damaged by UV rays. Thus, glycolic acid can also reduce the appearance of sun spots and hyperpigmentation for an even skin tone and texture.
- Acne Treatment: By unclogging pores and removing bacteria that cause acne, glycolic acid can be used to treat acne, blackheads, and whiteheads.
Boost Skincare Efficacy: Since the top layer of skin cells is exfoliated away, other skincare products become more effective since they can reach the skin on a deeper level thanks to glycolic acid.
How Do You Use Glycolic Acid?
Since glycolic acid is a chemical exfoliant, it's essential to use the correct amount to avoid irritating or burning the skin.
If you haven't used glycolic acid before, you may need to start with a lower concentration (less than 8%), so your skin can get used to it. High concentrations (20% or higher) should only be used under the guidance of a professional. It's important to start with a low concentration and increase gradually as your skin builds tolerance.
Glycolic acid is available in a variety of over-the-counter products, including cleansers, toners, and serums. It can also be administered by a dermatologist or esthetician as part of a professional facial. You might see more powerful results with leave-on products since the ingredients will have more time to do their magic. Be sure to read the directions on each product for safe and effective results.
When To Apply Glycolic Acid
You can use glycolic acid once or twice a day, depending on the concentration, your skin type, and tolerance. For daily use, 1-2% glycolic acid is a safe bet. If you have sensitive skin, start with once a day and increase to twice a day as your skin adjusts.
You should use products with higher concentrations (10% or higher) once or twice per week. Anything higher than this should be wiped off after a few minutes.
Read more on "Can I Use Gycolic Acid Everyday?"
The Final Verdict: glycolic acid for you
If you're looking to improve the appearance of your skin, glycolic acid may be a good option for you. Just be sure to use it as directed and to listen to your skin's needs. Now that you know all about glycolic acid, it's time to start incorporating it into your skincare routine!