Glycolic Acid Products – FAQ

Glycolic Acid products FAQ

Welcome to my glycolic acid products fact sheet

As we all know, glycolic acid products are hot property right now and just about everyone has at least one skincare product containing glycolic acid in their beauty routine.

If you are unsure about glycolic acid, how it can help you or how you can incorporate it into your beauty routine, then this fact sheet should help you out enormously. After all, you don’t want to spend your money on beauty products that are not right for your skin or don’t help you fix your problem.

So let’s take a look at some of the most frequently asked questions about glycolic acid products.

What is glycolic acid?

glycolic acid structureThe chemical formula for glycolic acid is C2H403, which means that a molecule of glycolic acid is composed of 2 carbon atoms, 4 hydrogen atoms and 3 oxygen atoms.

Glycolic acid is a member of the alpha hydroxy acid family, it is derived from sugar cane, can also be made synthetically and is very popular in skincare products. To under stand what glycolic acid is and it actions on your skin, we need to look at alpha hydroxy acid (AHA) first.

What is alpha hydroxy acid?

Alpha hydroxy acids are a group of water soluble chemicals, which are naturally occurring (although they can be synthesized) and include glycolic acid, lactic acid and citric acid.

Even though they are acids, this doesn’t mean that they are unsafe and the FDA has recommended dosages of AHAs which are safe to be used at home and by professionals.

Alpha hydroxy acids are known for their exfoliation properties, as depending on their chemical structure and strength they can remove the top layer of your skin or much deeper. This is why the FDA only recommends low dosages of AHAs to be used at home by non-professionals.

Glycolic acid is the smallesglycolic acid removes the dead skin cellst of the AHAs, meaning that that it has the smallest molecular size of the AHAs.

This is why glycolic acid is so popular in skincare products, because it can easily penetrate your skin, much easier that other AHAs with a larger molecular structure.

So the glycolic acid molecules penetrate your skin and remove the layer of dead skin cells from the outer layer of your skin or the epidermis. Unsafe use of glycolic acid (too high a percentage and left on your skin too long) can actually cause burns and scarring to your skin, as the glycolic acid penetrates your dermal layer.

So the take home message is to use low percentages of glycolic acid and use it as often and for as long as recommended by the manufacturer.

What does glycolic acid actually do for your skin?

Glycolic acid belongs to the family of alpha hydroxy acids and is an exfoliant, which removes the dead layer of cells from your skin.

For home use, percentages of 10% or less are perfectly safe to use at home (remember to read the manufacturers instructions first), and result in a smoother texture to your skin and a more even skin tone.

Beautiful model applying a glycolic acid serum product to her skinAt these low percentages (10% or less), products containing glycolic acid need to be used fairly often and consistently, so that you continue to experience the same great benefits.

Some of these low percentage glycolic acid skincare products can be used daily and others weekly.

Higher concentrations of 10% to 50% glycolic acid are considered to be professional grade AHAs, must be used less frequently and the results are more obvious and long lasting than at lower percentages. The greater the percentage of glycolic acid, the stronger the exfoliative effects and at these levels, you can quite often achieve results that are similar to a microdermabrasion.

Concentrations between 50% to 70% are used by medical professionals during chemical peels and are often used to treat severe hyper-pigmentation or acne. Every professional is different, but you often find that you need a course of these chemical peels every 2 to 4 weeks until you achieve the desired results.

The outcome from a chemical peel can last for up to 5 years, so you can see that as the percentage of glycolic acid increases, the duration of its affects also increases.

FYI: As the percentage of glycolic acid increases, you can cause more harm than good to your skin, which is why the FDA only recommends that skincare products containing 10% or less glycolic acid are used at home.

What are the benefits of exfoliation?

As glycolic acid is a natural exfoliant, we need to look at the benefits of exfoliation to your skin and the type of skin problems that can be resolved or improved using these skincare products.

benefits of glycolic acid productsIn safe hands, glycolic acid is a fabulous exfoliator, removing all those dead cells from your skin and giving your skin a healthier and fresher appearance.

It is a great ingredient to help heal and prevent acne, because as it exfoliates your skin it unblocks your pores, removing any debris, blackheads and whiteheads.

A clean skin helps to keep acne at bay for much longer than a skin with pores full of dead cells and other debris. Other people use glycolic acid exfoliation because it can even out their skin tone.

In some cases where you have mild sunspots, age spots or an uneven skin tone, consistent exfoliation is enough to reduce their appearance and give your skin a more even and brighter appearance. This doesn’t always work as well as some people would like, particularly if you have a lot of dark pigmentation spots, so you might need to investigate having a course of chemical peels by a professional.

This means that glycolic acid products are not skin lightening products, but are meant to provide a mild exfoliation to your skin, simply removing dead skin cells and other debris. If they improve the tone of your skin and reduce mild pigmentation problems, then that is fabulous – but as I said, you might need a chemical peel for more persistent hyper-pigmentation problems.

So the benefits of exfoliation using glycolic acid skincare products include:

  • Removing dead skin cells and other debris from the top layer of your skin.
  • Clearing away the debris in blocked pores that cause blackheads and white heads.
  • Helping to clear up acne caused by debris that is deeply embedded into your skin’s pores.
  • Minimizing superficial scars on your skin.
  • Reducing superficial pigmentation problems and evening out your skin tone.
  • Reducing fine lines on your skin.

Do I need to use sunscreen with these skincare products?

Glycolic acid can make your skin very sensitive to the sun. So it is important that you include a sunscreen in your beauty routine every day and keep your skin protected from the sun.  If you stop using glycolic acid products, it is advisable to keep wearing sunscreen for a few weeks afterwards as well, just to be on the safe side.

Find out how glycolic acid skincare products can help to give your skin a healthier and fresher glow by reading my reviews here.