Glycolic Acid Skin Care Products - Some Benefits

Glycolic acid is a small, organic molecule that is one of the class of alpha hydroxy acids that are found naturally in fruit and milk. Some other examples of AHA's are tartaric acid and tartaric acid. Other natural acids used in skin care preparations are beta hydroxy acids of which salicylic acid is an example.

Glycolic acid is a very small molecule that is obtained from sugar cane. It is a single chain molecule and one of smallest of the alpha hydroxy acids. As it is so minute it can easily go through the skin where it interferes with the bonds that connect the dead cells to the skin. They can then be easily sloughed off leaving a smooth and more young-looking skin. In addition glycolic acid is an exceptionally efficient moisturizer. In one experiment there was a 200% improvement in the moisture of the skin when glycolic acid was used on a regular basis over four or five weeks. Glycolic acid skin care products include creams, gels lotions and peels.

Some Side Effects of Glycolic Acid Peels

Peels which contain glycolic acid are the mildest that are sold and side effects are usually mild. They include irritation, redness and perhaps stinging. Side effects are ordinarily transient and will disappear in a few days.

Take Care with Retinol Containing Products

Retinol or associated vitamin A related products sometimes make the effects of some glycolic acid skin care products more intense. This is especially notable for glycolic acid peels so be careful if you are also using one of these kinds of products.

Types of Glycolic Acid Skin Care Products

Glycolic acid creams, gels and lotions

These types of glycolic acid skin care products are formulated for every day use as cleansers, exfoliating agents and moisturisers. Lotions and creams are intended for dry, oily or combination skins. Serums are frequently much lighter in consistency and are consequently more suitable for oily skins.

Glycolic Acid Chemical Peels

At higher levels glycolic acid can be used as a chemical peel to give a more aggressive treatment than creams and gels. Chemical peels work by literally burning the skin so that the skin 'peels' off to expose soft skin beneath. These types of peels are obtainable over the counter but if if you have never used one before it is wise to seek advice from a physician before use to ensure it is suitable for your skin. Glycolic acid peels are often used to remove pigmentation, fine lines and dry areas. They are also helpful in controlling acne flare ups or to improve sun damaged skin.

Anti-aging Preparations

There are lots of anti aging skin care products available with lots of different ingredients. Glycolic acid is regularly incorporated in these products, typically in combination with further ingredients for instance Coenzyme Q10 or retinol. Some people could have skin that is too sensitive to use a product containing retinol and glycolic acid in combination so be wary when using this type of product and try out on a small area, possibly on the inner arm, before using on your face. In addition be sure to use a sunscreen when using any retinol containing product during the daytime as this makes the skin more sensitive to the rays if the sun.

Skin Lightening Preparations

Skin lightening products are made for use on small areas of skin discoloration from damage from the sun or aging. They should not be used over the whole of the face. They can be bought as gels or creams and as a rule contain further ingredients for instance azelaic acid, hydroquinone and kojic acid.

Eye Gels

Glycolic acid skin care products suitable to take care of the fine lines around the eyes include much lower levels of glycolic acid than products formulated for the entire face. The skin about the eyes is thinner and more sensitive than in other areas of the face. Glycolic acid eye gels and creams are typically made with added ingredients, for example retinol.


Cleansers formulated with glycolic acid generally have levels which vary from 3% to around 10%. They can be used for daily exfoliationg and cleansing. Go for a lotion with a lower level if this is the first occasion you have used a glycolic acid cleanser and increase the level as your skin becomes adapted to it.


These categories of glycolic acid skin care products have a higher level of active component and are usually used for deeper, more intense cleansing procedures.


Toners are typically used to bring back the skin's pH before other treatments and can enhance their efficiency.

Face Washes

A glycolic acid face wash can be used every day to give a lovely radiance to your skin. While lots of the glycolic acid products that are for sale have a fairly high concentration of glycolic acid, face washes have a much lower concentration and therefore are entirely safe for anyone to use. The single exception to this is if you have a serious skin problems, you ought to chat to a doctor before you use this form of face wash although it is not likely that these concentrations will cause any harm.


Glycolic acid lotions can be used daily for gentle exfoliation of the skin to leave it soft and smooth. They are also useful for acne sufferers as they gently clean out the pores where the acne causing bacteria can thrive.

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