Three products for a radiant, customizable tan — without UV rays

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What Are the Dangers of Glycolic Acid?

What Are the Dangers of Glycolic Acid?

Of natural or synthetic origin, glycolic acid is an alpha-hydroxy acid. This active ingredient boosts the radiance of the skin, reduces the appearance of imperfections - blackheads, dilated pores and reduces wrinkles and acne scars. However, it presents some contra-indications and dangers. Discover the side effects of glycolic acid.

What Are the Dangers of Glycolic Acid?

Of natural or synthetic origin, glycolic acid is an alpha-hydroxy acid. This active ingredient boosts the radiance of the skin, reduces the appearance of imperfections - blackheads, dilated pores and reduces wrinkles and acne scars. However, it presents some contra-indications and dangers. Discover the side effects of glycolic acid.

What Are the Side Effects of Glycolic Acid?

Often used in peels, glycolic acid is a fruit acid known for its exfoliating properties. Indeed, it has the capacity to detach dead skin on the surface and thus to stimulate the renewal of the cells of the epidermis. Glycolic acid is present in many cosmetic formulas at a concentration of between 4 and 10%: serum, cream, tonic lotion, shower gel, etc... However, although it is suitable for almost all skin types (normal, combination to oily and mature), glycolic acid can sometimes be badly tolerated. The effects of this active ingredient vary greatly and depend on the concentration of glycolic acid, the pH of the product and the period of application. This is why it is important to always read the instructions carefully before applying the product.

For example, it is likely and normal to feel a slight tingling sensation, a mild warming sensation and to see redness appear following the application of cosmetics containing glycolic acid. However, depending on your skin's tolerance level, these symptoms can intensify and may even be accompanied by erythema, burning, tightness, itching and swelling of the face, and hyperpigmentation. In rare cases, hyperpigmentation, persistent erythema and pimples have been reported. Upon the appearance of such side effects, immediately discontinue the use of the product and remember to rinse your face thoroughly with water. However, at Typology, we do not recommend its use on sensitive and reactive skin, as well as for people who suffer from an inflammatory dermatological condition (eczema, rosacea, herpes, etc...). It is also advisable to avoid using it during pregnancy. Indeed, it can be the origin of the vascular disorders, resulting in congestive outbreaks on the face: the skin reddens more easily and is more sensitive.

What Precautions Should Be Taken?

Like the other fruit acids contained in most facial care products, glycolic acid does not do well when exposed to the sun. In fact, it can increase the skin's sensitivity to the sun's UV rays and increase the risk of sunburn even without direct sun exposure. Because of its exfoliating power, the skin is found without its natural protection against the sun's rays until the stratum corneum and the hydrolipidic film are completely restored. The stratum corneum protects the dermis by absorbing or reflecting UV rays, particularly UVB rays. However, by thinning this protective layer, we expose our epidermis to cellular damage: the skin starts to turn red under the effect of UV rays. That's why it's best to apply your glycolic acid skin care products in the evening, especially since the cell renewal process is more significant at night. When using glycolic acid products, be sure to moisturize your skin with a facial moisturizer that is appropriate for your skin type to restore the hydrolipidic film. In addition, remember to protect your skin from the sun by applying a sunscreen like SPF30 in the morning.

Moreover, to avoid any undesirable effects, make a sensitization test beforehand in the fold of the elbow for 48 hours. Also, avoid applying it on the eye contour. If your skin starts to sting and/or redden, decrease the acid concentration and/or space out the applications. For example, you can start by using a product with a low concentration of glycolic acid and space out the applications to once a week. This will allow your skin to get used to receiving the active ingredient and will help you to see how your skin reacts. Thereafter, you can gradually increase the frequency of application and the concentration over time.

Sources

  • KORNHAUSERA. & al. Topical glycolic acid enhances photodamage by ultraviolet light. Photodermatology, Photoimmunology and Photomedecine (2003).

  • HEARING V. J. & al. The effects of topically applied glycolic acid and salicylic acid on ultraviolet radiation-induced erythema, DNA damage and sunburn cell formation in human skin. Journal of Dermatological Science (2009).

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