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Improving the appearance of your skin- A look at Glycolic Acid

Updated on February 20, 2016

In the current age and trend of taking selfies at every possible moment, people want to make sure that their skin is looking as good as it possibly can be. Depending on the condition of your skin, there are various steps that you can take to ensure that it is looking at its best right in the comfort of your own home.


This might seem like a simple solution, but many people with mild skin complaints do not actually clean their skin properly. Rather, they opt to use a bog standard face wash which is a jack of all trades but master on none. For those that have slight imperfections in their skin that they want to fix, using a purpose made face cleanser is the ideal solution due to the fact that it is gentle on the skin to improve its appearance without venturing down the route of actually removing a thin layer of skin which happens with chemical peels.

Chemical Peels

Chemical peels are regarded as a more intensive method of improving your skin when compared to merely cleansing it. However, they all work on the same basis whereby result in the physical removal of the top layer of skin and therefore acting more like an exfoliating agent due to the fact that this removal of the top layer of skin would of course remove the damaged and dead skin cells present on this layer at the same time. The end result is that your skin looks amazing and clear giving you the exact look that you wanted.

There isn’t actually any peeling of the skin occurring, it is more akin to the skin flaking off but for marketing reasons there are not many people that would think of using a ‘chemical flaker’.

Glycolic Acid

By far the most common chemical peeler is Glycolic Acid which is a member of the Alpha Hydroxy peel family. Glycolic Acid is in essence used by those that are deemed as having a ‘normal’ skin type, whereas those have more sensitive skin would be better suited to using a Lactic Acid Alpha Hydroxy skin peel instead.

Due to the nature of Glycolic Acid being water based, it is deemed to be a safer and milder peel on the face than say one which is alcohol based.

Is it safe to use Glycolic Acid at home?

The quickest answer to this is yes, but this also deserves an explanation. There are two main categories of chemical peels, one being at home peels and the other being surgical peels. For the vast majority of people, the use of a surgical peel is not normally warranted and therefore a home peel is not only more beneficial in terms of safety, but it is much more cost effective too.

One of the biggest benefits off a home peel over a surgical peel is that due to the nature of it being an at home remedy, it is much gentler on the skin. This can be seen in the fact that there would be at least 6 applications of the Glycolic Acid over a duration of six weeks. This is in stark contrast to the surgical route whereby the process is completed in one visit. However, in the case of the latter there is a larger timeframe for the skin to recuperate after undergoing this fairly extensive procedure. This effect is not mimicked when you use Glycolic Acid at home.

Using Glycolic Acid will always be a safer option than going down the surgical route on the basis that some basic caveats are met. The first of course is that you do not overuse the item. Even though it is a milder approach than going into surgery, by constantly reapplying Glycolic Acid to your skin day after day, it will damage the skin and can cause a high degree of irritation. Whilst some may feel that they will get better results by doing so, this is sadly not the case. It is very much the situation whereby it is all the risk but none of the reward.

Linked to this, and it would hopefully be regarded as a step of common sense is that after the peel has been used it is important to protect the skin when you are outdoors. A simple application of suntan lotion will suffice in providing a protective barrier. Not doing so however would obviously make you more susceptible to sunburn because, after all, the top layer of skin has been removed.

Lastly, before you use any form of agent such as Glycolic Acid that removes skin, it is important to check that you are not hypersensitive to any of the agents within the peel. Much like you would do with a cleaning product on furniture, it is important to test the peel on a small area of the body that would not be further exacerbated by factors such as friction in the even that you do suffer from a reaction from it.

Selecting the strength that is right for you

Despite that fact that you can use Glycolic Acid at home, it is not a one sizes fits all remedy. Rather, there are numerous strengths that you can select. These strengths range from 10% right up to 60%. As a rule of thumb, for someone wanting a mild degree of exfoliation and if it is their first time then then starting at the lowest strength will always be recommended.

Much like weight lifting in that you can’t expect to jump up to lifting the heaviest weights first, your skin has to adjust to the procedure of peeling over time, hence the aforementioned six week time scale. However, as you use the peel on a more regular basis, the strength that you use can be increased.


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