What is Glycolic Acid?

Glycolic Acid is a natural active compound, made from sugar cane and is a highly popular exfoliating ingredient in professional resurfacing treatments and over the counter skincare for use at home. Most forms used in skincare today are synthetically made and can be adapted for potency and concentration in the lab.

Similar to lactic, citric, tartaric and mandelic acids, Glycolic Acid in skincare is classified as an AHA (alpha-hydroxy-acid). Of the different types of AHA’s, Glycolic is the simplest in structure and is the smallest, meaning it can effectively penetrate into the skin. It works to break down the bonds that hold skin cells together in the upper layer of skin (named the stratum corneum) to resurface old, dead skin cells and reveal brighter, more luminous skin.  Glycolic Acid is water soluble and is used at different levels in skincare.

Skin benefits of Glycolic Acid

Glycolic Acid helps to shed dead skin cells and leaves skin brighter and smoother. It is highly effective in treating acne as it helps to unblock pores and clear the “gunk” especially with leave on professional treatments. Glycolic is also very useful in treating dull skin, menopausal skin, pigmentation or age spots, fine lines and wrinkles.

Research has shown that Glycolic Acid is good for attracting water into the skin and is therefore beneficial for strengthening the skin barrier. It helps increase ceramides - the lipids and fatty acids that make up the barrier function. 

Stimulates cell renewal
Glycolic Acid promotes the skin's cell renewal process to improve firmness and smoothing fine lines. It also stimulates fibroblasts which promotes collagen production. This ensures skin feels firmer and fights against the visible signs of ageing by plumping the appearance of skin.

Why We Use Glycolic Acid

“We chose Glycolic Acid in our professional peeling services as we knew that it was effective in treating most skin types and an array of skin concerns. We didn’t want our peel to have downtime for the customer and therefore it is suitable for the first step into resurfacing professional treatments. It will leave your skin not only feeling much better after just one treatment, but you will see visible improvements immediately too.”
- Shelley Martin, Co-Founder & New Product Development Lead

Glycolic Acid Skincare Products

Glycolic Acid is used in our range of Glycolic peeling services. It is used alongside other powerful acids including Lactic Acid, Salicylic Acid, and Fruit Enzymes. These professional peels will help treat acne and breakouts by unclogging pores and will plump fine lines and wrinkles to reveal new, more radiant skin. Your skin will also be left feeling firmer and more hydrated.

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Before and After Using Glycolic Acid SKINICIAN Products

Take a look at some of our real before and afters taken by customers following their professional Glycolic resurfacing treatment:

Who Glycolic Acid is best for

Glycolic Acid is not suitable for all skin types, but can help many skin conditions. It may irritate sensitive or really dry skin, side effects include itching, swelling, redness. It is best for:

Premature ageing
To reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles starting to form

Dull skin
To exfoliates and promote new cell regeneration

Acne or scarring
To help decongest, boost collagen, hydrate and strengthen your skin's barrier

To brighten your skin and interfere with the production of melanin to reduce pigmentation

Things to Consider Before Using Glycolic Acid

Those with sensitive or irritable skin should be cautious and patch test before use. Using products with lower levels of Glycolic Acid would be advisable to assess if your skin can tolerate Glycolic Acid.

It is not advisable to use several Glycolic Acid products together and remember results will improve over time. 

A professional treatment is the safest way to use Glycolic Acid as it is a controlled environment. 

We often get asked - can you use glycolic acid everyday? Glycolic Acid at lower levels 1-5% can be used daily e.g toners, cleansers or serums.  

Professional peels carried out by a trained facialist or skincare professional are likely to have medium levels of 5-20%. Higher levels of Glycolic Acid in a treatment would need to be carried out with a registered dermatologist.

SPF 30 must be used daily when using glycolic acid in a skincare routine as skin will be more sensitive to UV rays.

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