Know What is Glycolic Acid In Skincare

Know What is Glycolic Acid In Skincare

  • By Anindita Biswas

Glycolic acid helps in exfoliating the skin by dissolving dead skin cells revealing fresher and smoother skin. To know more about the benefits, continue reading the article!

Whenever we think of bright and glowing skin, the first thing that comes to mind is a trip to the salon. But is it possible to achieve salon-like radiant skin at home? Definitely! Now we have a potent weapon to nourish the skin and reduce the number of visits to salons or spas. You can reap the benefits of going to the salon without leaving the comfort of your home. This ingredient is known to provide you with a broad range of benefits, whether it is achieving acne-free skin or aiming for the perfect hydrated skin. Glycolic acid is universally regarded as a skin fixer by skincare professionals throughout the world, and this is also one of the top recommended solutions for various skin concerns by certified dermatologists. 

If you're into skincare, you've probably heard of this new trendy ingredient. Here's an in-depth article that will teach you everything you need to know about it, including its benefits, drawbacks, who can use it, and why it is your skin’s best friend!

What is glycolic acid?

Something that has been trending for a long time- Glycolic acid is one of the most powerful and potent kinds of Alpha Hydroxy Acid (AHA). It is a plant-based ingredient commonly derived from sugarcane. It is an exfoliator that removes dead skin by targeting the upper layer of the skin and breaking the bond between various skin cells. Glycolic acid is water-soluble and has small molecules that reach into the skin and promote skin cell turnover. 

When and Who should use it?

This is a very common question that lingers in our minds. Anyone in the age group that belongs to more than 20 years old can include glycolic acid in their skincare routine. Glycolic acid is suitable for all skin types, especially those who deal with acne. 

However, sensitive skin must undergo patch testing before introducing it into the skin regime. Ideally, glycolic acid must be started with the mildest dose, anywhere between 2% to 5% is great, to begin with. It should be applied twice a week in the beginning. 

How to use glycolic acid in your skincare routine?

Until now you must have gained a fair amount of knowledge on Glycolic acid, but have you wondered where can you use this magical ingredient? Here are the different ways you can start using glycolic acid:

Glycolic acid has significantly less concentration in a cleanse and is usually great for beginners or sensitive skin. It is one of the best remedies for acne-prone skin and to keep your skin clean and fresh.

  • Glycolic acid as a toner:

It can be used as a skin toner to brighten and smoothen the complexion. It can be applied as a toner after cleansing the face, and most toners contain a small amount of glycolic acid. As the acid concentration is very low, it can be used as a toner every other day.

  • Glycolic acid as a mask:

Glycolic acid is present in a higher concentration in face masks. Hence should be used weekly only. You’ll notice how easily and flawlessly other skincare products absorb once you apply the mask.

  • Glycolic acid as a serum:

if you wish to use a higher concentration of glycolic acid in your routine, a serum is your best bet. Unlike face masks that get rinsed off, this stays on the skin and may be the best choice for sensitive skin.

  • Glycolic acid as a spot treatment:

One of the best things you can do for your skin gives it a spot treatment of glycolic acid along with other actives. This way you can make sure that you’re only targeting those specific areas of the face without the risk of affecting other sensitive areas of the face.

  • Glycolic acid as a peel:

Glycolic acid is present in very high concentrations in chemical peels. It is always ideal to consult a dermatologist before opting for a glycolic acid peel as part of the skincare routine.

Benefits of glycolic acid

Glycolic acid is a must-have and has been the top-recommended product by many dermatologists due to its multiple benefits. The chief advantages are- 

  • It boosts collagen production:

Glycolic acid has the property of penetrating deep into the skin and enhancing the production of collagen. Collagen is a protein that strengthens the skin and increases hydration. Glycolic acid removes the dead cells from the skin by dissolving the glue-like substance (desmosome) that holds the skin together, thereby reducing skin aging.

  • It acts as a skin hydrant:

Glycolic acid absorbs the moisture from external surroundings and signals your skin to produce sebum in drier surroundings thereby acting as a hydrant for the skin. However, do not think of it as a moisturizer, and do use a barrier-strengthening moisturizer afterwards. Foxtale’s Smoothening moisturizer will help your skin achieve a smoother texture and maintain its barrier. 

  • It prevents and fights off acne:

Glycolic acid is an exfoliator that peels away dead skin cells, allowing the skin to rejuvenate. If used consistently, this product relieves the pores present in the skin, preventing the growth of acne-causing bacteria. Foxtale’s Acne spot corrector gel gently exfoliates the surface to help remove dead skin and excess oil, reducing the mark and discoloration over time.

  • It brightens and improves skin tone:

Its deep penetrating effect controls melanin production and improves skin tone.

Side effects of glycolic acid

If you’re using glycolic acid wisely in your skincare routine, chances are there won’t be any side effects. However, every skin type is different and reacts to products differently. 

  • Skin becomes photosensitive

Glycolic acid has the property of making the skin more susceptible to UV rays (photosensitive). Hence it is recommended to use the product at night only. Applying it at night provides ample time to do its work without damaging the skin cells. In the daytime, you should always apply sunscreen whether or not you’re planning to step out and reapply it every 2-3 hours.  

  • Itchiness

Unfortunately, glycolic acid might cause irritation to a few people. It is recommended to perform a patch test before applying the product to the face. If you do use Glycolic Acid and feel your skin becoming itchy, swollen, or turning red, rinse off the product immediately. If you use Glycolic Acid and notice your skin becoming itchy, swollen, or turning red, immediately rinse it off.

  • Burning sensation

Although it is not common, using products containing a higher concentration of glycolic acid might cause burns or even scar the skin. If your skin is more on the sensitive side, it is recommended to use a lesser concentration(5%) product. 

The conclusion

Whether your skin needs to be hydrated or needs help in fighting off acne, Glycolic acid is the hero that’ll save the day. While using glycolic acid has a plethora of benefits, it is crucial to perform a patch test before applying the product to your face. If you’re a beginner, start using a product containing a milder concentration of glycolic acid. 


1.Is glycolic acid good for treating acne?

Glycolic acid, as an exfoliator, removes dead skin cells, revealing newer skin. It soothes the pores in the skin, preventing the growth of acne-causing bacteria.

2.Can you use glycolic acid with retinol?

Although you can use both of these ingredients, do not combine them. To avoid irritation, it is best to use these products at different times of the day or week.

3.Is glycolic acid good for all skin types?

Glycolic acid is the best for oily and acne-prone skin. However, if you have sensitive skin, ensure to use a product containing a lower concentration of glycolic acid and with caution. 

4.What not to mix with glycolic acid?

Glycolic acid must never be mixed with salicylic acid as it may cause a lot of irritation. It must also never be combined with vitamin C as it is also an acid and is unstable, layering these ingredients together will throw off the pH balance and may as well be useless.


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