Five Benefits of Glycolic Acid

Glycolic Acid—it’s likely you’ve heard these words before. The name might ring a bell, as glycolic acid is one of the most trending buzzwords when it comes to skin care. It can be found in everything from moisturisers to serums to chemical peels. It can be used to tackle a number of skin care issues. But where did it come from? Why is glycolic acid good for skin? How does it work? We’ve created a guide to help you understand what glycolic acid is all about. We’ll discuss the benefits of glycolic acid and: • Uncover the science behind glycolic acid • Explain the various glycolic acid skin benefits • Address any potential risks or side effects • Showcase how you can build it into your daily routine Glycolic acid has been praised for its many uses and effortless simplicity. Let’s begin!

The Science Behind Glycolic Acid

This ingredient is truly the talk of the town these days—and it shows up in nearly every skin care review. Glycolic acid is typically derived from sugar cane and belongs to the Alpha Hydroxy Acid (AHA) family. AHAs are a group of natural acids found in a number of common foods, for example:

• Citric acid is found in citrus fruits.
• Lactic acid is found in soured milk and tomato juice.
• Malic acid is found in apples.
• Tartaric acid is found in grapes.

AHAs are used in cosmetics and skin care products, as they are great for acne, dry skin and wrinkles. Glycolic acid is the most popular member of the AHA family because its chemical makeup is small, allowing it to penetrate and absorb into skin at a deeper level. The benefits of glycolic acid include its anti-ageing properties, ability to target acne, and exfoliation of the skin. It’s safe for the majority of skin types and easy to use, making it a perfect addition to your skin care routine.

How Does Glycolic Acid Benefit Your Skin

Let's dive into the most important glycolic acid skin benefits!

ANTI-AGEING

Glycolic acid deeply penetrates the epidermis to help stimulate cell renewal and collagen production. It’s often added to anti-ageing and anti-blemish treatments in order to hydrate, brighten and tone the skin. It also evens out the skin’s texture by getting rid of dead skin cells, leaving you with a soft, youthful complexion.

EXFOLIATES THE SKIN

Glycolic acid’s greatest asset is its ability to help remove the uppermost layer of our skin by breaking down the bonds that bind dead cells together. It essentially “unglues” dead skin cells from one another, creating a chain reaction that boosts cell renewal and leaves your skin feeling clean and bright. Using glycolic acid in your exfoliation routine helps to keep your skin's pH levels balanced, fade any lingering acne scars and unclog your pores. It’s a truly turbo-charged chemical exfoliant!

TREATS ALL SKIN TYPES

Glycolic treatments were once only used on those with oily or acne-prone skin. Nowadays, glycolic acid is recommended by dermatologists for all skin types, as long as you’re mindful of the formula you plan to use. Glycolic acid regulates excess oil and acne prone skin on teenage or excessively oily skin. It also moisturises and brightens mature or dry skin – all depending on the amount of glycolic acid your treatment product contains (between 2 and 15%--that’s how much percentage of glycolic acid is effective).

FIGHTS ACNE

Glycolic acid is a great addition to all skin care routines. For those who suffer from acne outbreaks, it’s particularly effective and can fight against a range of skin acne issues. Glycolic acid can unclog blockages of dead skin cells and sebum. This makes it one of the top options for staving off spots. Acne scarring is no match for this super AHA either! Glycolic acid can also help to lessen the appearance of acne scars.

PROVES EASY TO USE

Back in the day, glycolic acid was only used in medi-spas as part of routine aesthetic medical peel procedures. We’re happy to tell you that it’s now found in plenty of everyday products – like the Revitalift Laser X3 Glycolic Peel Pads. These pads are enriched with glycolic acid and boast double-sided exfoliation, helping to remove dead skin cells and rebalance the skin. Glycolic acid products can be used up to once a day for a certain period. The more regularly you use your treatment of choice, the more effective (and rewarding!) it will be for your skin.

Risks and Side Effects

As with any skin care product you apply, there are a few key side effects of glycolic acid to look out for. 

Similar to retinol use, your skin will need a bit of time to adjust to glycolic acid before you can hit your stride and see visible benefits. Skin care formulas containing glycolic acid will have varying concentrations, so always check the percentage and directions for use before purchasing. For those with sensitive skin, choose a low-percentage formula, adjust and work your way up. If you begin a glycolic acid routine with a high-percentage product, your skin may react with redness or irritation.

Be cautious of the other skin care products in your beauty drawer. It’s important not to double up on other items containing Vitamin A or AHAs. Your skin might become overly sensitive and reactive.

When using glycolic acid, sun exposure also becomes a much bigger threat. It’s incredibly important to wear sunscreen and practice safe sun protection on days when you’re using glycolic treatments, especially when applying them in the morning. Glycolic Acid works to remove the top layer of your skin, putting it at greater risk of sun damage and unwanted pigmentation.

For an anti-ageing moisturiser that also works as a source of sun protection, whilst also fighting signs of premature ageing  and dark spots, the Revitalift Laser X3 SPF15 Day Cream is an ideal addition for your morning routine.  

Recommended Glycolic Acid Products

There are plenty of ways to build glycolic acid-based products into your skincare routine. Determine why you’re interested in using glycolic acid in the first place, and then begin picking your products. Here are some ways this powerhouse ingredient can be put to good use:

FOR ACNE-PRONE SKIN

For acne-prone skin, find yourself a good cleanser that contains glycolic acid. We recommend using the cleanser daily, either in the morning or just before bed. Avoid using it more than once a day – less is more.

For those looking to pack an extra punch, follow with a glycolic peel toner, like the Revitalift Laser X3 Glycolic Peel Pads we mentioned above. Use the peel pads daily as tolerated for six weeks, until you start noticing changes. If this isn’t the case, give your skin a break and stop treatments for a few weeks, then repeat the process.

If your focus is post acne scarring, there’s no need to adhere to a daily schedule. Commit yourself to a light glycolic acid peel routine one or two times a week—this will reduce the appearance of scars and give you a healthy glow!

FOR ANTI-AGEING AND MATURE SKIN

Building glycolic acid into an anti-ageing routine couldn’t be simpler, with a wide range of products now available.

As mentioned above, when glycolic acid is absorbed into the skin, it quickly separates the ties that hold dead skin cells together. This gives your skin a smoother, more youthful appearance. Once skin cells are separated, glycolic acid sloughs off the layer of dead skin. This helps to gently exfoliate, whilst unclogging pores and allowing new skin to emerge.

In addition to allowing fresh skin to rise to the surface, glycolic acid aids in minimising discolouration (a common sign of ageing skin) and helping to stimulate collagen production. Now you’re starting to see why we rave about this powerhouse molecule!

Applying glycolic acid in little batches is favoured over a more extreme approach. The best way to work glycolic acid into your anti-ageing routine is to add in a simple, low-dose product as tolerated.

FOR DRYNESS AND EXFOLIATION

If you’re less concerned about acne or wrinkles, but find you have pesky dry patches or unevenness, consider glycolic acid your new BFF.

We’ve already mentioned how glycolic acid works to slough off dead skin cells, but did we mention how it attracts moisture from the air, coaxing it into the skin for maximum hydration and minimal dryness? It’s also a great product to use in a cleanser or serum, as it helps to prep your skin for other products—like moisturiser or makeup.

To use glycolic acid for exfoliation, consider using it alongside a moisturiser. Once you’ve used the Revitalift Laser X3 Glycolic Peel Pads, apply a drop of the Revitalift Laser X3 Ampoules, followed by the Revitalift Laser X3 Night Cream to lock in hydration and target fine lines and wrinkles. The glycolic acid ampoules are concentrated “shots” that provide your skin with freshness, radiance and smoothness after just one ampoule! Use every night for one week, and be sure to wear SPF the following morning.

Other Factors to Consider

In addition to the routines and products above, there are a few other factors to consider when choosing a glycolic acid product.

Night creams should be progressively applied. Begin using them once a week, followed by once every three nights, if your skin responds well. Peeling treatments can be applied once or twice a week for a gentle, exfoliating action. They don’t need to be used every single day to be effective—don’t forget, less is more!

Dermatologists use higher concentrations of glycolic acid (20% to 70%) to remove several layers of skin over a short period of time. At home, lower concentration glycolic acid products used over a longer period of time can also generate visible results. It’s all about what works best for you, your skin type and your routine.

Now that you understand the benefits of glycolic acid and how to incorporate it into your routine, we can move on to another important topic: skin care secrets. Read on to discover Skin Care Secrets to Improve Your Skin's Appearance!