Glycolic Acid... What Does It Do?

Glycolic Acid... What Does It Do? | blog | yearnskin.co.za

Glycolic Acid

What is it?

Glycolic acid is an alpha-hydroxy acid (or AHA) that's derived from sugar cane.

Want to know a little more science behind it?

"Of the AHAs, glycolic is the simplest in structure and the smallest; it has the lowest molecular weight," says dermatologist Kenneth Howe, M.D., speaking to Glamour.com. What that means for you is that it's great at penetrating the skin to get to work and be its most effective. It starts off acting as an exfoliant: “Normal, intact stratum corneum consists of tightly packed layers of dead skin cells that are tightly bonded together," says Howe. "Glycolic acid loosens these bonds.” With the ‘glue’ that holds them intact now dissolved by glycolic acid, those layers of dead skin cells can move out the way to let glycolic acid stimulate fibroblasts in the dermis to produce increased amounts of collagen,” says Howe. 

How does it help your skin?

Essentially, what you can look forward to is smoother skin with fewer fine lines and wrinkles.

Now let's go back to the part where it exfoliates your skin: it can help to tackle hyperpigmentation, dullness and more of what you'd expect from your favourite exfoliant. "Glycolic acid is a great choice for acne-prone skin, says Loretta Ciraldo, M.D., also to Glamour.com. “It works by un-gluing dead skin cells from each other, which clears out your pores,” she says, adding that it's great for not only treating, but also preventing most types of acne like blackheads, whiteheads, and pimples, since the root cause is a build-up of oil."

Glycolic acid is often used in skin peels as well as gentle at-home treatments, and is generally not recommended for people who have very dry or sensitive skin. Instead, it's recommended for medium to oily skin. As with most ingredients, the most sensible advice is to start small: introduce glycolic acid slowly and monitor the results to see if you've succeeded in finding your skin's new best friend.