Highly appreciated for its exfoliating properties, glycolic acid is a fruit acid with multiple benefits for the skin. It offers an effective solution to various skin problems such as dullness, uneven skin texture and tone, dehydration, blemishes and the signs of aging. Present in many skin care products -lotion, serum, cream-, its exfoliating power allows it to stimulate cell renewal and thus improve the clarity and uniformity of the complexion and the homogeneity of the skin texture.
What Are the Benefits of Glycolic Acid?
- What Is Glycolic Acid?
- Benefit n°1: Refines Skin Texture and Limits Pimples
- Benefit n°2: Fight Against Pigmentation Spots for a Radiant Complexion
- Benefit n°3: Limit Skin Aging
- What Are the Contraindications?
What Is Glycolic Acid?
Of natural or synthetic origin, glycolic acid, also known as hydroxyacetic acid, is the smallest of the alpha-hydroxy acids (A.H.A.). It is also known as a fruit acid, along with citric acid, malic acid and lactic acid. This molecule is usually derived from sugar cane, grapes or beet. It is distinguished among the A.H.A. by its powerful keratolytic activity and by its small size allowing it to penetrate the skin deeply. It is considered the reference active ingredient when you want to boost the radiance of the complexion, treat acne, hyperpigmentation, moisturize the skin and even wrinkles.
Glycolic acid is used in the formulation of numerous skin care products: toners, serums, shower gels or creams. Its concentration in cosmetic products, varying between 4 and 20%, depends on the identified needs. Above 20%, the concentration of glycolic acid allows for a chemical peel. As a result, its use is strictly supervised by a professional and falls into the category of dermatological or aesthetic treatments. In addition to the concentration, the pH of the formula will have an influence on the intensity of the exfoliation. The higher the pH, the stronger the action of the glycolic acid is neutralized.
Benefit n°1: Refines Skin Texture and Limits Pimples.
Known for its exfoliating power, glycolic acid helps regulate the production of sebum in oily skin and thus inhibits the formation of imperfections, caused by a clogging of the pores by dead cells at the origin of blackheads and acne. Thus, as the pores are unclogged and less dilated, pimples and blackheads are less frequent. In addition, this active ingredient reduces acne scars thanks to its exfoliating action in favor of cell renewal. As a result, these skin irregularities become blurred. Thus, glycolic acid favors the homogeneity of the skin texture and allows to regain a smooth skin.
Benefit n°2: Fight Against Pigmentation Spots for a Radiant Complexion.
Thanks to its peeling effect, glycolic acid effectively eliminates dead, dull and dehydrated cells from the surface of the epidermis. This exfoliating action allows healthy cells to emerge (cell renewal), which restores radiance and luminosity to the face. It can also reduce hyperpigmentation. Indeed, depending on the concentration of glycolic acid, exfoliation can get rid of melanin-rich skin cells on the surface of the skin. This phenomenon can even provoke cell renewal in the basal layer of the skin, the deep layer of the epidermis, where the melanocytes, the cells that produce melanin, are located. This helps to reduce brown spots due to age or the sun (including the mask of pregnancy) and thus to lighten the complexion. It also participates in the synthesis of hyaluronic acid and provides a moisturizing effect to the horny layer of the skin. Result: the epidermis regains its firmness and the complexion its radiance, the skin is plumped, softer and smoother.
Benefit n°3: Limit Skin Aging.
Glycolic acid also acts on several levels to fight the signs of skin aging. This happens in addition to its depigmenting effect on brown spots, caused by an accumulation of melanin, which can appear with age. Indeed, glycolic acid can reach the dermis. It can stimulate the synthesis of collagen and elastin, which weakens with age and is responsible for the skin's firmness, elasticity and also the production of hyaluronic acid, a natural humectant responsible for the skin's hydration, which tends to progressively decrease with age. Thus, glycolic acid helps the skin to maintain a good level of hydration, to firm up and tone up, but also to smooth out wrinkles and fine lines.
What Are the Contraindications?
Even if glycolic acid is compatible with all skin types, it is an irritating ingredient for the skin. When used incorrectly or in excessive doses, this active ingredient can cause skin reactions, such as redness, itching or allergies that manifest themselves on the skin. When using a glycolic acid-based skin care product, it is quite normal to feel small tingling sensations.
However, if the tingling becomes a severe burning sensation, the area of application should be rinsed quickly with water. Glycolic acid is also a photosensitizing active ingredient that reacts to UV rays. It is therefore advisable to apply it in the evening and to put on a sun cream during the day, while the product is being used.