When 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. 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. Let’s get to know more about this savor in this article.

What is glycolic acid?

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 the 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?

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 skin texture. 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 start with. It should be applied twice a week in the beginning.

How to use glycolic acid in your skincare routine?

Glycolic acid is present in varying concentrations in different products. Therefore, it is always recommended to limit the frequency of usage of the product depending on the concentration of glycolic acid. Here are the different ways you can start using glycolic acid:

  • Glycolic acid as a face wash: 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 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.
  • 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. It further prevents the development of blackheads and whiteheads and makes the skin clear.
  • 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, 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.