All About Glycolic Acid Use And Benefits For The Skin

Glycolic acid for skinGlycolic Acid is one of the milder but most potent Alpha Hydroxy Acids which have multiple benefits for the appearance and health of the skin.

Glycolic Acid is a great natural exfoliant and as such, it is able to get rid of dead skin cells and reveal a regenerated and more youthful looking skin with a more even texture, less acne breakouts and a more balanced oil production.

In this article, we will answer some of the most common people’s questions about glycolic acid including its use, benefits, which skin conditions it is good for, how often you can use it, possible side effects and more. So, let’s get started!

What is Glycolic Acid?

Glycolid Acid is a potent alpha hydroxy (AHA) acid and is derived from sugar cane. It has one of the smallest molecules of the AHA acids and as such, it allows for deeper penetration and offers more benefits to the skin than some of the other AHA acids.





Regular use of it at the right dosages has proven to visibly improve the appearance and texture of the skin.

What are Glycolic Acid´s Benefits for the Skin?

As we have already said, glycolic acid gets rid of the dead skin cells that gather on the surface of the skin and are responsible for its dull and lifeless appearance. That is how it clears the way for the new skin cells to appear, which results in a healthier, brighter and younger looking complexion.

At the same time, glycolic acid activates collagen production and since it provides the skin with a deep exfoliation of its upper layer, it unblocks the pores and that is how less acne breakouts appear as well as other blemishes like blackheads or whiteheads.

Other benefits of glycolic acid include less visible fine lines and wrinkles, a smooth complexion with a radiant look and a more even tone as well as a tighter skin. Skin pores get reduced while glycolic acid can also help with acne scars and dark spots.

How is Glycolic Acid Different than the Rest of the AHA Acids?

Glycolic acid has one of the smallest molecular weight compared to other AHAs and therefore, it can penetrate more easily and deeply into the skin, keeping the skin pores clean. As a result, it is ideal for skin oiliness, blackheads, fine lines and dull skin.

Is there a risk of irritation by using glycolic acid?

Over the counter glycolic acid products, which commonly contain a concentration of 5% or 10%, are usually safe for home use. The 5% is recommended for first time users or people with sensitive skin while for users that tolerate 5% and want to enjoy maximum results, the 10% glycolic acid is best recommended.

Therefore, if you have sensitive skin or you want to avoid any possible irritation, you can start with 5% of glycolic acid and then move on to the higher percentage once you see that your skin is handling the lower percentage just fine.

Are there any Side Effects of Using Glycolic Acid?

Over the Counter glycolic acid products are generally considered to be safe for the skin but one side effect that you may experience is a light stingy sensation which goes away after a few seconds.

The chemical peels that one can get at a dermatologist´s contain a higher percentage of glycolic acid, so they can have different side effects such as skin peeling, redness, itchiness, skin dryness and more.

For a full analysis of the potential side effects that can occur by using a high percentage of glycolic acid on your face, you should consult your dermatologist.

How Often Can you Use Glycolic Acid?

When a glycolic acid product, such as a cleanser for example, contains 5% of glycolic acid which is combined with other soothing, anti-inflammatory, pH balancing and moisturizing ingredients, it can be used every day.





When the concentration of glycolic acid in a product is more than 5%, with a maximum concentration of 10% for home use, it is recommended to use it twice a week. Products that contain more than 10% glycolic acid should only be used by a dermatologist, as we have previously mentioned.

Which Types of Skin is Glycolic Acid Best For?

Even though glycolic acid is best known as a must have for acne prone skin and is also highly recommended for cases of cystic acne, the fact is that it is very beneficial for all skin types for various reasons.

In the case of oily or combination skin, glycolic acid successfully removes dead skin cells and prevents the blocking of the pores while in the case of dry skin, it improves the penetration of moisturizing ingredients into the skin which are so much needed for dry skin.

In addition, in the case of normal skin types, glycolic acid helps in keeping the skin smooth, soft and radiant.

What Age Can you Use Glycolic Acid?

Glycolic acid can benefit all ages. During the teenage years, it can be used for acne while at about age twenty five when it is the time when our skin cells renewal process starts decreasing and the skin starts aging, glycolic acid works successfully to remove those dead skin cells, which leads to the smoothening of the fine lines and to our skin looking more bright and less visibly affected by that slower skin cell renewal.

In our late twenties and early thirties, aha acids including glycolic acid are great for boosting skin cells renewal and diminishing photo-aging signs or other signs of aging such as fine lines.

In the case of mature skin types, glycolic acid reinforces the regenerating and rejuvenating properties of other active skin care ingredients and therefore makes them more effective.

Glycolic Acid vs Retinol

In terms of their exfoliating effect, it is good to know that glycolic acid is mainly a strong exfoliating agent while retinol has strong antioxidant properties as well as mild exfoliating properties which accelerate cellular metabolism and increase production of elastin and collagen.

When is it Best to Use Glycolic Acid?

The best time to use glycolic acid is at night after you have cleansed your skin. AHA acids can trigger photo-sensitivity and therefore if you go out after having used glycolic acid and even during those days that are cloudy, it is always recommended to wear a high SPF sunscreen.

To conclude, glycolic acid is a must-have in skin care which can largely benefit all types of skin. Also, after a certain age that dead skin cells start staying on, and the skin cell renewal process slows down, glycolic acid is particularly useful for improving our skin tone and texture as well as making skin aging signs less visible.

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