What is glycolic acid, and what can it do for your skin? If you've found your way here, chances are you are looking for answers on all things glycolic. Well, fear not! We're rounding up 11 of our favorite reasons you should be including glycolic acid in your skincare routine. From exfoliation to combating breakouts, this powerful little ingredient can genuinely transform your skin. Find out how often you should use it, how to apply it, and how it works on your skin.
1. It combats signs of aging
Glycolic acid works as a chemical exfoliator. Depending on the product's strength you use, the very top layer or layers of your skin will be exfoliated by the product. This action leads to cell regeneration, which can make your skin appear more youthful! Use a product with a low concentration of glycolic acid daily, or have an in-office high potency treatment less frequently to see results.
2. It's great for reducing the appearance of sunspots
Sun damage is one of the main reasons your skin will show signs of aging. Glycolic acid has been found to remedy both sunspots and uneven skin tone. Not only that, but because it exfoliates, it leaves your skin looking brighter. People often ask, 'do dermatologists recommend glycolic acid?' The answer will generally vary from doctor to doctor, but a lot of research backs up the fact that glycolic acid is an effective treatment for several common skin concerns. Some dermatologists also offer in-office glycolic acid peels (more on that below.)
3. It exfoliates your skin
By now, you've probably got the gist of how glycolic acid works its magic: it exfoliates your skin! Now, exfoliators come in many shapes and forms, but we love glycolic acid because it's a chemical exfoliator. It works by dissolving bonds that hold skin cells together. It sounds very drastic, but basically, it allows older skin to detach earlier than it would otherwise, so your newer cells become visible sooner. These newer cells are usually super healthy-looking, making your skin look brighter and more even.
4. It's suitable for all skin types
Researchers have found that all skin types well tolerate glycolic acid. Because it comes in different strengths, it means that you can start out using a very gentle acid exfoliating product before building up in intensity over time.
5. It comes in different strengths
Glycolic acid comes in lots of different strengths. Depending on the product, the acid concentration will go up to 10% potency for over-the-counter products (aka ones you don't have prescribed by a dermatologist). In turn, in-office treatments can use solutions that are up to 70% glycolic acid. But when - if ever - is glycolic acid dangerous? When applied at strengths that can be found in in-office chemical peels, glycolic acid can be hazardous. It should be used by a qualified professional, and you should carefully follow any aftercare instructions you are given. That being said, over-the-counter skincare products that contain glycolic acid are safe and well-tolerated.
6. It can be used to treat acne
When used as an in-office peel, glycolic acid helps treat active acne. Not only that, but it has been found to be a valuable ingredient to help heal acne scars and reduce their appearance. If you're dealing with acne at the moment, it might be worth chatting with a dermatologist to see if incorporating glycolic acid into your treatment plan could be beneficial.
7. It can be used on your whole body
You know us, we're all about looking after your whole Bawdy, not just your face! Glycolic acid can be used on the rest of your body, too (just keep clear of super-sensitive parts). If you find yourself dealing with keratosis pilaris (chicken skin) or acne on your chest and back, then listen up. You might want to consider using glycolic acid toners or exfoliators on your body too. Skincare doesn't stop at your neck. Take the product to any other areas of concern you might have!
8. It's able to go deep into your skin
Glycolic acid is a super tiny molecule, which means it can travel deeper into your skin than some other skincare ingredients. Your skin comprises multiple layers, and many skin care products only treat the outermost layer (the epidermis). Because of its size, glycolic acid can reach the second deepest layer (the dermis). This helps with its ability to encourage cell turnover, so your skin looks gorgeous and glowing.
9. You can use it daily
People often ask whether it's safe to use glycolic acid every day? The answer is yes and no. If you're using a mild over-the-counter product that contains glycolic acid, then the likelihood is you will be able to use it every day. If you're going in for more concentrated formulations with your dermatologist or esthetician, then you will need to look at having them no more than once every other week. Your skin care professional will be able to advise as to the best frequency for in-office peels. It promotes skin regeneration.
10. It's biodegradable
Not all exfoliators are biodegradable. Until we all became better educated on micro plastics, a massive number of physical exfoliators relied on tiny plastic balls to remove impurities from your skin. Glycolic acid is biodegradable, and according to one lab that makes the skincare component, 90% of the product will biodegrade within seven days of use.
11. It can be used in hair care too
We might spend a lot of time focusing on skincare, but your hair deserves to feel the love too. Glycolic acid is also an ingredient that's often used in hair products. Researchers have found that using such products can help strengthen your hair and can help it resist the high heat that often comes with styling tools.
The bottom line
So, what does glycolic acid do to your face? In short, it exfoliates your skin. But beyond simply causing your skin to regenerate, it helps to even out skin tone, reduce the appearance of fine lines, and help treat acne. Skincare products containing glycolic acid are readily available and come in various concentrations, so you will find a formulation that suits your needs. If you want to get a deeper peel using the acid, you will need to head in-office. Glycolic acid is definitely a hero skincare ingredient, and we reckon it's well worth adapting your skincare routine to make sure it's part of your beauty toolbox