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Collection: Glycolic Acid

Glycolic Acid is a Skin Renewing Brightening Exfoliator

EWG Rating
Beauty Ingredient EWG

Scientific Name: {Glycolic Acid}
Common Name: {Acetic Acid, Hydroxy}

Glycolic acid is a common ingredient found in skincare products. It is an alpha hydroxy acid or AHA. It is arguably one of the safest and most famous of the Alpha Hydroxy Acids.

Glycolic acid can significantly improve your skin as it removes dirt and unclogs pores. In addition, it gently exfoliates the skin providing your skin with a radiant glow.

It works to brighten your skin and smooth and improve its tone and texture. Glycolic acid is excellent for many skin concerns as it clarifies and brightens for a healthy complexion.

You have probably seen "Glycolic Acid" in many different products. It comes in many forms, from face wash to gel cleansers, peels, face creams, and moisturizers, to name a few.

Many over-the-counter products use anywhere between 1 to 2%. However, you can find it in strengths of up to 10%. Only a professional esthetician should administer any peel stronger than 10%.

Glycolic acid is an acid that is extracted from sugar cane. Today in most skincare applications, the glycolic acid used is produced synthetically in a lab.

Glycolic acid is in a category of skin care products called alpha-hydroxy acids. Initially, all of these were derived from natural sources, but many are now produced synthetically.

Glycolic is likely the most popular and most common of the alpha hydroxy acid family. It is touted as being much more effective and much safer than some of the other acids.

Glycolic acid's most straightforward function is as an exfoliator. In the world of skincare, we often think of exfoliators as those scrubs that contain small beads or abrasions that help to peel away dead skin cells.

They soften the rough patches of the face by breaking down hardened skin.

There are also brushes specially made to exfoliate the face, which use coarse, rotating bristles to scrub away lingering dirt, grime, and debris. Unfortunately, these can be very harsh to your complexion and can do more harm than good.

These exfoliators can dig and tear perfectly healthy skin in an attempt to clean it, primarily if these products are used too often or incorrectly. In small amounts, chemical exfoliants are much safer for the skin.

Women with sensitive skin need to be especially careful when using peels or products containing acids.

Glycolic acid safely peels away dead skin cells from the face, allowing them to slough off naturally. This is a better option than settling into lines and wrinkles or becoming lodged in pores, where they can cause blemishes.

Salicylic acid is often used as a treatment for acne. Though it has many of the same functions, glycolic acid is commonly considered a treatment for lines and wrinkles. As we age, our skin becomes thinner and holds onto dead skin cells for longer.

These dead skin cells settle into our lines and wrinkles, making them more pronounced, deeper, and darker. Exfoliating the skin not only encourages a new crop of skin cells to grow.

It also removes the old skin cells that exacerbate the appearance of lines of wrinkles — thus, our brightening exfoliator is skin renewing.

With a regimen of exfoliation that includes glycolic acid, many women begin to see a reduction in the severity of their wrinkles. Because it also has lightening and brightening properties, it makes skin appear more youthful and radiant. And it can further diminish the appearance of any wrinkles or lines on the face.

About the Author

Kari Thomas wrote this article.