Glycolic acid is an ingredient you probably have seen on a variety of skincare product labels. Whether it’s Chanel or Drunk Elephant you can find glycolic acid in just about any product line today. Among its many uses, it can help to clear your skin, even out your skin tone and help with signs of aging.

Glycolic acid belongs to the (AHA) or alpha-hydroxy acid family. It’s the most popular and studied AHA according to many dermatologists. Because glycolic acid is a small molecule, it’s able to penetrate your skin more easily.

It’s often found in chemical peels and other skincare products that help to exfoliate your skin. Since the word “acid” is in its name, it can sound intimidating! I wanted to explain what glycolic acid is and what it does to better help some of my clients who may be curious about how to best use it…

How Glycolic Acid Can Benefit Your Skin:

What is glycolic acid? It’s an exfoliant that can help to rid your skin of dead skin cells and reveal new layers of skin underneath. Since the molecules of glycolic acid are so small, they can penetrate your skin at a deeper level. Because of this they’re able to do more reparative “work” on your skin than other ingredients are able to.

Glycolic acid is often praised for how helpful it can be with acne. Since glycolic acid loosens your skin’s dead cells, it can help free up your pores and unclog them. It has the ability to get deep down in your hair follicles to loosen up excess sebum and proteins that tend to cause blackheads and acne.

Glycolic acid can do more than just rid your skin of acne . It can help your skin to look less dull as well. When your dead skin cells stick together and clog your pores, your skin will end up looking less vibrant. As you age, your skin will shed dead skin cells less quickly which can lead to more of this build-up. Glycolic acid can help to get rid of dead skin cells and help your skin to look more vibrant, luminous and smooth.

Glycolic acid exfoliates your skin, which makes your skin absorb and hold other products better since it helps to remove a layer of dead skin cells. Other skincare products you use such as retinol and vitamin C will be better absorbed by your skin if you’re using glycolic acid as well. Your makeup will also lie better and look more smooth on your skin because of your skin’s improved texture.

Glycolic acid can also aid in your skin’s production of collagen which can result in less fine lines and wrinkles.

What to Look for in a Product with Glycolic Acid:

There are a wide array of products that contain glycolic acid including toners, cleansers, masks, creams, peels and more. The great thing about glycolic acid is that it’s great for anyone of any age and any skin type so whether you’ve got oily or dry skin… it can help! However, I would recommend that those with very sensitive skin avoid using glycolic acid as it may irritate your skin. If you have a darker skin tone, you should also use caution with glycolic acid. When your skin is darker there’s a higher risk of pigmentation if you use a product that has too high of a concentration.

You can use glycolic acid daily as long as you’re not experiencing any irritation while using it. A few times a week is ideal when using glycolic acid in your routine. When using products with glycolic acid in them, be sure that you use sun protection and that you avoid prolonged exposure to the sun.

Whether you’re looking to add glycolic acid to your routine so that your makeup lies better or if you’re trying to combat the signs of aging… it’s a great ingredient. The major advantage of using glycolic acid is that it can help to get rid of hyper-pigmentation, dullness and aging signs instead of purely treating them.

If you read this article and you’re looking to add some glycolic acid to your skincare routine, then a cleanser would be the best way to introduce the ingredient into your beauty routine. If you’re interested in trying glycolic acid, I’m always happy to talk with you about how it may affect your skin and what products would best benefit your skincare routine.

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