Glycolic acid: properties and applications

What is Glycolic Acid?

Glycolic acid, contained in high concentrations in snail slime , is a substance of natural origin used very frequently to treat and combat some skin problems such as sun spots, small scars, wrinkles , marks left by acne or simply , counteract the gray and asphyxiated appearance of the skin.

It is an acid belonging to the alpha-hydroxy family and its full name is hydroxyacetic acid. It is naturally extracted from certain fruits such as pineapple, sour grapes, melon and sugar cane.

Its main feature is to break the links between the horny cells that form the surface layer of the epidermis: in doing so, it promotes a real skin turnover that will appear more luminous, compact, soft and smooth both to the touch and to the eye.

Glycolic acid can be easily purchased in herbal medicine or in pharmacies at low percentages. In the case of high percentages for medical purposes, it will be necessary to have a specific medical prescription.

In fact, this substance is often used by dermatologists to perform even very intense chemical peels. In the cosmetics and skincare sector, the products that contain glycolic acid are mainly moisturizing creams with an anti-stain action, peelings and specific detergents.

Since it is a photosensitive product, when using it in high concentrations it is best not to expose yourself directly to the sun's rays and protect your skin well using an effective sunscreen.

Properties of glycolic acid

This active ingredient causes a slow and gradual exfoliating action which leads to the removal of the upper layer of the epidermis. The result, if the products based on this substance are used correctly, is to make the skin luminous, fresh and smooth .

smooth skin thanks to glycolic acid

In addition to the renewal of the cell layer, glycolic acid stimulates the production of collagen and elastin . These substances improve the general tone of the epidermis, allowing you to counteract the formation of wrinkles and, at the same time, prevent the loss of tone and firmness that occurs over the years.

The best known use of glycolic acid is certainly the one that sees it used to counteract scars caused by acne and some skin discolorations due to incorrect exposure to sunlight: peelings, exfoliating treatments and creams can help replace a new layer of skin that will no longer show any kind of mark.

However, glycolic acid is also particularly used in a milder way to restore light to a dull complexion and improve the overall appearance of the skin, as it intervenes on what may be irregularities in the structure of the epidermis. The result will be new, luminous and soft skin.

Applications of glycolic acid

We can easily find it in numerous products dedicated to personal care and beauty, but it is also a substance used in medicines aimed at combating certain skin blemishes.

It is easy to find it among the components of exfoliants and peels; for example the Nuvò Cosmetic face scrub , which naturally contains the glycolic acid contained in snail slime . This product is dedicated precisely to the elimination of dead cells and the stimulation of cell renewal thanks to the well-known qualities it has.

The moisturizers that include it among their components, on the other hand, are mainly those formulated for dull and asphyxiated skin. Here too the action of glycolic acid will help to obtain an overall healthier, brighter and, consequently, younger appearance. Numerous anti-aging treatments owe their fortune to the presence of this substance among their active ingredients.

A substance widely used in the world of beauty and, used in the right way, can really erase marks and small scars from the skin .

Read also: Snail slime: what it is, properties and applications

7 important benefits of glycolic acid

Why so much interest in glycolic acid? This alpha hydroxy acid is an ingredient that serves several important roles in skincare. Here are a number of great benefits it brings:

  • Exfoliating effect : one of the properties of this substance is its ability to stimulate the removal of the superficial layer of the skin, which contributes to the elimination of dead cells that are deposited on the surface. It therefore contributes to cell renewal making the skin brighter. The natural process of exfoliation of the epidermis can be slowed down or even inhibited by a number of factors, including ageing. So a product that contains this ingredient is a valid aid to exfoliation. The use of this acid in your daily skin care routine, in addition to exfoliation, also allows you to maintain the pH balance of the skin.
  • Anti-aging effect : It is such a small molecule that it can penetrate deeply into the skin layer to stimulate cell activity. It is also an active smoothing ingredient that evens out the skin texture, decreasing the thickness of wrinkles and increasing cell regeneration, with the elimination of dead cells. The skin is cleaner and softer.
  • Contrast to acne : it is effective on skins with acne problems and skin irritations. Helps unclog pores of sebum and dead skin cells. Thanks, therefore, to its ability to increase cell renewal, it can help reduce the scarring or discoloration of previous pimples.

Read also : Juvenile acne: what it is, causes, remedies and treatments to reduce it

  • Reducing pore size : Pores become enlarged when excess oil, dead skin cells, dirt, and various impurities (like old makeup) get trapped inside the tiny pore and cause it to expand. Glycolic acid, excellent for cleaning pores, reduces their size, drawing out impurities and oil trapped in clogged pores, returning the clean pore to its normal size.
  • Suitable for all skin types : not only for oily or acne-prone skin, it is an ingredient that can be used on any skin, because it regulates sebum production and moisturizes dry or mature skin.
  • Improves Product Absorption : The acid prepares the skin for the application of other products and cosmetics, especially ingredients like retinol and antioxidants like vitamin C.
  • Toning effect : a toner that contains glycolic acid unclogs pores, tightens them and hydrates the skin, improving its firmness.

How is glycolic acid used?

Let's start with some tips to follow:

  • It's best to use products that contain glycolic acid instead of using it directly on your skin, as it may cause irritation and burning.
  • Don't make face masks and other DIY glycolic acid products unless you have experience making cosmetics.
  • If you have sensitive skin, use products that have low concentrations of this ingredient .

When choosing a product with this acid, look not only at the percentage contained, but also at the pH of the product. More acidic products give stronger and more effective treatments, even if the acid concentration is low.

How to use it safely

In general, glycolic acid is a very safe and effective skin care ingredient, however, to use it safely for your skin, it is best to follow a few precautions:

  • Apply sunscreen when using glycolic acid treatments, as skin can become more sensitive to the sun's rays.
  • Adapt your skin to glycolic acid : use products that contain it gradually, until you can use it daily.
  • Start with low-strength products . If your skin responds well, then switch to higher doses.

Who should use glycolic acid?

As we said before, it is an ingredient that lends itself to any skin type, except very sensitive skin, so it could be irritating.

As for age, products containing glycolic acid can be used from adolescence onwards.

When and how often to use it?

How much to treat the skin with glycolic acid products? It depends on how much your skin can tolerate it. If you have irritated or sensitive skin, it's best not to use products that contain it.

But the frequency of use also depends on the concentration of acid in the product you use. For daily use you can choose cleansers and toners with low doses of glycolic acid, in combination with other soothing ingredients.

However, many products containing glycolic acid are exfoliants, so they shouldn't be used too often, once or twice a week at most.

How do I know if a glycolic acid product is working?

Apply the product with glycolic acid after having done a good cleaning of the face, so that it can be well absorbed into the skin and take effect.

The best products are moisturizers, gels, toners, serums, which you don't have to wash off and can "work" on your skin.

Add glycolic acid to your skincare routine

Let's briefly summarize the advantages and benefits of products with glycolic acid:

  • It helps you reduce acne scars and inflammation
  • Removes dead skin cells
  • It has a number of anti-aging benefits
  • It helps you exfoliate and combat dry skin
  • Evens out skin tone

But how to add this ingredient to your daily skincare routine?

Skin care starts in the morning

  • Facial cleansing . When you wake up, the first step to take for skin care is to use a glycolic acid facial cleanser. Apply it to damp hands and gently massage the skin with circular movements, avoiding the eye area. Then rinse and dry.
  • Skin hydration . After cleansing the skin of the face, it is good to use a moisturizer to improve the tone and give brightness to the skin.

Skin care continues in the evening

  • Deep cleansing of the face . In the evening, between makeup and impurities that have accumulated on your skin during the day, you need to do a good facial skin cleansing .
  • Revitalize the skin . Now that your skin is well cleansed, you need to resurface its tone, giving it a more youthful appearance and a softer texture using glycolic acid cotton pads.
  • Night time hydration : Use a night time moisturizer. During the day, the skin of the face was exposed to external atmospheric agents and environmental pollution. A night cream stimulates the cell repair and renewal process.

What can glycolic acid do for your skin?

A good glycolic acid product will help you with wrinkles, cracked skin, lighten age spots or unclog pores.

But there are also other important benefits of glycolic acid products for the appearance and health of the skin:

  • Increases epidermal thickness , thereby decreasing the normal thinning of the skin that occurs with age.
  • It increases the epidermal hyaluronic acid content and also the dermal hyaluronic acid content, thereby reducing the appearance of wrinkles. Hyaluronic acid also helps make skin less fragile, healthier, because cells and nutrients can move around better.
  • It activates the genes to produce skin collagen , thus representing a good contrast to wrinkles.
  • Evens out uneven skin pigmentation .
  • Contrasts the marks left on the epidermis by the action of the sun's rays .
  • Exfoliates dead skin cells , making it softer.

Frequently Asked Questions about Glycolic Acid

Where does glycolic acid come from?

It is an acid derived from sugar cane, unripe grapes and sugar beets, belongs to the alpha hydroxy acid (AHA) family – along with malic and lactic acids – and is a common ingredient in many skin care products. skin.

Is it a natural acid?

Alpha hydroxy acids are a group of acids found naturally in foods. Famous members of this group are citric acid (found in citrus fruits), lactic acid (found in milk), malic acid (found in apples), tartaric acid (found in grapes), and glycolic acid (found in sugar cane).

Of these, glycolic acid and lactic acid are most commonly used in skin care products.

Is glycolic acid necessary for skin?

This acid proves to be a great ingredient in your skincare routine, especially if you have any of the following issues:

  • Photo-damaged skin: unevenly pigmented skin due to exposure to the sun's rays.
  • Aged skin: dull and wrinkled skin and important signs of aging.
  • Acne and/or old acne scars.

Is useful?

Glycolic acid works on the top layer of skin (epidermis) by dissolving sebum and other substances. Then the dead skin cells are eliminated and the skin becomes clearer and more radiant.

It also attacks the top layer of pigmented, acne marked, wrinkled skin to make the skin look younger, fresher and clearer.

How can I incorporate it into my daily skincare regimen?

Although glycolic acid is more preferable in products such as serums, moisturizers and night creams, yet it is also a great exfoliator and hence also useful in facial cleansers, facial scrubs and toners, especially for acne prone skin. acneic.

Can I use glycolic acid every day?

Daily use products should contain 10% glycolic acid or 30% once or twice a week.

Is it for everyone?

Yes. Most people can safely use glycolic acid for skin care. However, if you have had any major skin treatment done, it is advisable to consult your dermatologist first.

Also, if your skin won't stop tingling even in products with a lower percentage of acid, it's probably not for you.

How long does it take for glycolic acid to take effect?

From 3 to 6 weeks. When you start using glycolic acid products, it takes time to unclog clogged pores and dissolve the oil that has already built up under the skin. This can take up to 3-6 weeks.

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