What is glycolic acid and what it does to your skin?
You must have read Glycolic acid on the labels of many skin care products such as face wash, toners, and cleansers. We always tend to relate the word acid with something that is harsh and harmful to the skin. Interestingly, Glycolic Acid is an alpha hydroxyl acid (AHA), a fruit acid procured from sugar cane. In addition, Glycolic acid is found in vegetables and fruits which are high in natural sugars like pineapple, cantaloupe, unripe and grapes. Hence, it is a harmless acid that offers numerous benefits to your skin.
What does glycolic acid to your skin?
The major function of AHA is exfoliation by loosening the chemical bonds between dead keratinized skin cells. Actually, it clears dull and dead skin cells from outermost layer of your skin, ultimately resulting in a healthy skin with an improved texture. Additionally, it also helps in new cell regeneration resulting in brighter and radiant appearance.
What are its benefits to the skin?
Apart from exfoliation, glycolic acid is known to perform several other functions for your skin. It enters into the deepest layers of skin and reveals a new layer of skin. Many dermatologists suggest this plant ingredient to treat Psoriasis, Melasma, Seborrheic keratosis, and Hyperkeratosis. It also boosts collagen and elastin production; thereby reducing the signs of ageing.
Let’s see other functions of glycolic acid for skin in detail –
1. Good to treat acne-prone skin
The main reason for acne or big acne cysts is the deposition of dead cells that clog your pores. Dermatologists believe that being a small molecule, glycolic acid has the ability to penetrate into hair follicles and loosen up sebum built up that can lead to blackheads and breakouts.
2. Offers anti-ageing benefits
With the progression of age, our body does not shed dead cells as it did in our teenage years. So, sun damage, melasma, extra pigmentation, and everything else get stored on our dead cell layer. All of this makes the skin looks more dull and aged. The function of glycolic acid is to clear all the debris from this outer skin layer. To add to this, Glycolic acid is also known to stimulate collagen production, which helps to reduce the appearance of fine lines and finally gives a smooth appearance.
3. Prevents ingrown hair
Dead skin cells clog hair follicles that cause hair to curl back down into the skin instead of growing out. Getting rid of ingrown hair is a difficult task for many people. In this case, the use of glycolic acid as an exfoliator is the best way to prevent the formation of future ingrown hair.
4. Helps in keratosis pilaris
Chicken skin or keratosis pilaris is caused by a build-up of keratin around the hair follicles. This condition is characterized by small, rough, itchy, and pesky patches on upper arms, thighs, cheeks or buttocks. Regular scrubbing of these areas with glycolic acid-based products is considered quite effective.
Who Can Use It?
Glycolic acid is a botanical ingredient that is considered good for almost every skin type. It has been found effective in treating many skin problems. However, people with extra sensitive skin and those who are suffering from rosacea are asked to avoid using it as they may feel irritation on the skin.
How often should you use it?
Using glycolic acid for your skin totally depends on the skin type and levels of skin sensitivity. However, skin experts say that using glycolic acid products a few times a week is a better option. After doing so, if you get the desired result, you can continue using it. On the contrary, you should avoid its use if your face is feeling irritated or skin is peeling.
Glycolic acid vs salicylic acid
Glycolic acid or AHA facilitates the exfoliation of the topmost layer of dead skin cells. It can be used on a daily basis to improve skin texture, hyperpigmentation, acne, and wrinkles. Whereas, Salicylic acid is a beta-hydroxy acid (BHA) which is either naturally obtained or biosynthesized from the bark of the willow tree. Unlike AHAs, BHAs are oil-soluble and considered good for oily skin. To know more read here
Is Glycolic acid safe for skin?
Glycolic acid is safe and effective for the skin. However, its use makes the skin vulnerable to sunlight, that’s why it is needed to be followed with a sunscreen. In addition, being a strong exfoliator, it dries out the skin; hence using a good moisturizer balances its acid effect.