Glycolic Acid For Skin: Benefits, Uses & Side Effects

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If you know about AHAs, you must know about Glycolic Acid. But what do you really know about Glycolic Acid? Read on to find out how Glycolic Acid could be the perfect addition to your skincare routine. What is Glycolic Acid? Glycolic Acid, derived from sugarcane, is one of the most popular and well-researched Alpha-Hydroxy Acids. It has the smallest molecular size of all the AHAs. How does Glycolic Acid work? Glycolic acid is a potent chemical exfoliator. It works by dissolving the bonds between skin cells which allows easy removal of dead skin cells. Glycolic Acid also stimulates cells in the dermis to increase the production of collagen. Benefits of Glycolic Acid
  • It promotes collagen synthesis.
  • It exfoliates the skin effectively.
  • It may help fade hyperpigmentation.
  • It can help get rid of ingrown hair.
  • It can help clear acne.
  • It may reduce the appearance of large pores.
  • It provides a brightening effect on the skin.
How does Glycolic Acid treat different skin conditions?
  • Acne- Glycolic Acid is a keratolytic agent which works by dissolving the bonds between dead skin cells. It helps treat acne by removing excess sebum, dead skin cells and bacteria which could potentially clog the pores.
  • Signs of Aging- Glycolic Acid can help treat and prevent signs of aging as it exfoliates the outermost layer of the skin, causing an increase in cell-turnover rate and the rate of collagen synthesis.
  • HyperpigmentationGlycolic Acid increases the cell turnover rate and helps remove the topmost layer of pigmented cells which can help get rid of hyperpigmentation.
  • Dullness- Glycolic Acid helps remove a layer of older skin cells and reveals newer cells which can cause the skin to appear smoother and brighter.
How to use Glycolic Acid? It’s best to start with a low concentration and begin by using Glycolic Acid in a wash-off product such as a face wash. A concentration of 5% to 8% is appropriate for beginners. Once your skin becomes more tolerant to Glycolic Acid, you can move on to a higher concentration and use serums and peels with Glycolic Acid. As with physical exfoliation, it’s important to moisturise after chemical exfoliation as well. So, make sure to follow up with a good moisturiser after using Glycolic acid. Who can use Glycolic Acid? Glycolic Acid can safely be used by people with oily, combination and normal skin types. Due to a smaller molecular size, Glycolic Acid can penetrate deeper and cause irritation, which is why people with dry or sensitive skin types should avoid using Glycolic Acid and stick to other AHAs such as Lactic Acid or Malic Acid. Which ingredients can be used with Glycolic Acid?
  • Hyaluronic AcidUsing Hyaluronic Acid with Glycolic Acid can help prevent any dryness which may be caused while exfoliation. Hyaluronic Acid helps retain moisture in the skin while Glycolic Acid removes dead skin cells and together they can result in smoother, brighter skin.
  • Kojic Acid and Azelaic Acid- Both of these ingredients act as tyrosinase-inhibitors and are effective treatments for hyperpigmentation. Using these ingredients with Glycolic Acid can help get rid of pigmentation effectively. Glycolic Acid exfoliates the skin which can help other ingredients to penetrate better and enhance their efficacy.
  • BHAs- Glycolic Acid and BHAs both exfoliate the skin, but Glycolic Acid is water soluble whereas BHAs are oil soluble. Glycolic Acid works on the outermost layer of the skin while BHAs can penetrate deep into the pores and a combination of these two can help achieve clearer skin. Together this combination can help treat multiple skin problems like acne, hyperpigmentation and signs of aging effectively.
Which ingredients to avoid with Glycolic Acid?
  • Vitamin C: Vitamin C and Glycolic Acid are both acidic in nature. Using the two together creates a risk of irritation, which is why it’s best to avoid using them together.
  • Retinol: Similar to Glycolic Acid, Retinol has exfoliating properties and using them together can lead to over-exfoliation.
  • Niacinamide: Niacinamide is shown to work best in a neutral pH. Since Glycolic Acid is highly acidic in nature, it may deactivate the action of Niacinamide. While there isn’t a surety of irritation, it’s best to avoid using them together.
Side Effects of Glycolic Acid Although side effects are unlikely if Glycolic Acid is used correctly, some of the side effects associated are burning, redness and peeling of the skin. Using Glycolic Acid causes sensitivity to sun, making the skin more prone to sunburns and damage. Make sure to use sunscreen while using Glycolic Acid. Deconstruct’s Range of Glycolic Acid products Deconstruct Exfoliating Serum with 18% AHA + 2% BHA (Salicylic Acid) It is a one-of-a-kind serum with 18% AHA and 2% BHA. The AHA works on the surface level and removes dead skin cells, revealing a brighter complexion, while the BHA penetrates deeper and unclogs pores, purifying the skin. Conclusion Glycolic Acid is one of the most potent AHAs. With consistent usage, Glycolic Acid can help treat multiple skin concerns such as hyperpigmentation, acne, dullness, dark spots and fine lines. While Glycolic Acid is a multipurpose ingredient with many benefits, it’s important to follow precautions while using it to avoid irritation. FAQs
  • How long does Glycolic Acid take to work?
It may take up to 4 to 6 weeks for significant results to appear after beginning the use of Glycolic Acid.
  • Can Glycolic Acid be used every day?
While a low percentage of Glycolic Acid can be used every day, it’s best to slowly build tolerance to avoid irritation. Start by using it once or twice a week and slowly increase the frequency. A percentage higher than 2 % to 5% should not be used every day.
  • Can Glycolic Acid burn the skin?
Using too much of Glycolic Acid or jumping to a very high concentration puts you at a risk for irritation. In such cases, Glycolic Acid may cause burning, stinging and peeling of the skin. Glycolic Acid is also likely to irritate sensitive skin.
  • Can Glycolic Acid lighten the skin?
Since Glycolic Acid works by removing layers of dead skin cells, it can provide a brightening effect with consistent usage.