What is Glycolic Acid?
Glycolic acid is a natural ingredient derived from sugar cane, though it is now often made synthetically.
It falls into a set of molecules known as AHAs, or Alpha Hydroxy Acids. There are five AHA’s: glycolic acid (sugar cane), lactic acid (milk), citric acid (oranges and lemons), malic acid (apples and pears) and tartaric acids (grapes).
Glycolic Acid is the most common alpha hydroxy acid, and it has a reputation of being one of the safest forms of alpha hydroxy acids.
How Does It Work?
- Glycolic acid works like tiny ‘pacmen’, eating away at the glue between cells:
- It reacts with the top layer of skin, breaking it down by dissolving sebum and other substances that bind cells together
- Sloughs off dead skin cells, revealing smoother, brighter, younger looking skin (more benefits below)
Why Does It Work So Well?
Glycolic acid is part of the group of active compounds known as AHA’s (alpha hydroxy acids). Derived from sugar cane:
- It has the smallest molecules in the group so is able to penetrate the skin deeply and easily, making it the most effective for treating fine lines, acne, blackheads, dullness, oiliness etc
- Chemical peels use a high percentage of this acid and can be very effective if done safely and properly.
- An even better way to use it is with a lower percentage on a consistent basis – as this gives the same results as heavier peels but in a much safer, easier way (and often gives better results as the consistent application makes them cumulative)
Benefits of Glycolic Acid
- Provides a remarkably even exfoliation of the skin
- Releases and dissolves dead skin cells – clearing up blocked pores and blackheads
- A very effective acne treatment – particularly deep blockages of dead skin cells and sebum that cause cystic acne
- Reduces fine lines and signs of premature ageing by increasing cell turnover – meaning younger, healthier cells are now visible on the skin’s surface
- Acne scars (and other scar lesions) respond well to consistent glycolic acid treatment
- It minimizes the appearance of pores by keeping them clear and helping the surrounding cells to strengthen and regain elasticity
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