“Of the AHAs, glycolic is the simplest in structure and the smallest; it has the lowest molecular weight,” says Kenneth Howe, M.D., a dermatologist at Wexler Dermatology in New York City. The higher the concentration and the longer it sits on skin, the deeper it penetrates and the more layers of cells it removes. Glycolic acid can be derived from natural sugars, which may explain why this toner contains three types of sugar: fructose, glucose, and sucrose. The major advantage of glycolic acid is that it does more than treat breakouts. “I have never seen a reaction that severe, not from glycolic acid.” Overall it's actually very safe, so much so that a derm can do a glycolic acid peel to treat acne during pregnancy. Glycolic peel contains a water-soluble acid having tiny molecular structure. In the summer, that makes glycolic acid riskier, since it can make you sensitive to sunlight. What is the difference between glycolic acid and salicylic acid? GLYCOLIC ACID TO EXFOLIATE SKIN. To revisit this article, select My⁠ ⁠Account, then View saved stories. The material on this site may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, cached or otherwise used, except with the prior written permission of Condé Nast. It has a built-in safeguard. Like other AHAs, glycolic acid increases your skin’s sensitivity to UV light, so you should be careful to use them only at night, if possible. Glycolic is powerful. For good reason, we say, most are most likely to feel a shudder run down their spine when putting the words “acid” and “chemical” in the context of a skin treatment. And by stimulating collagen production, it helps skin feel firmer and minimizes fine lines and wrinkles. Glycolic acid is often included in emulsion polymers, solvents and additives for ink and paint in order to improve flow properties and impart gloss. You shouldn’t need to worry. It is used in surface treatment products that increase the coefficient of friction on tile flooring. 6 Skin Care Ingredients You’re Not Using—But Should Be, The 23 Best Face Serums for Smoother, Glowier Skin, Everything You’ve Ever Wanted to Know About Retinol, Glow Recipe's Blueberry Bounce Gentle Cleanser, Dr. Dennis Gross Alpha Beta Universal Daily Peel, Cane + Austin 5% Glycolic Acid and 2% Salicylic Acid Acne Retexture Pads, L'Oréal RevitaLift 10% Glycolic Acid Resurfacing Serum. First and foremost, glycolic acid is an exfoliant. “Retinol products speed up cell turnover in your skin, resulting in a functional exfoliating effect,” says Howe. Effectiveness of Peels. Deanna Pai is a beauty writer in New York City. That small molecular weight means “it's easy for it to penetrate your skin and be super effective,” says Alix Shapiro, skin therapist at Heyday in NYC. “Glycolic acid is immediately neutralized upon contact with water,” Howe says. Glycolic acid peels are considered a safe and effective treatment for a variety of skin conditions. Glycolic Acid vs Salicylic Acid: Which Is Better For Your Skin? But don't just take my word for it. A glycolic acid peel is yet another type of chemical peel which promises to help you get rid of the less slightly aspects of your skin. The ingredient can also tackle hyperpigmentation, dullness, and signs of skin aging, such as lines and wrinkles, without breaking a sweat. U sing glycolic acid daily as an exfoliator is an easy way of incorporating low levels into your regime, but also serves to build up your skin’s tolerance. All rights reserved. The effects start showing in 2-3 weeks, and a complete skin transformation takes about 6-8 months. It is the active ingredient in the household cleaning liquid Glycolic acid breaks down sebum and the other substances that bind cells together in order to remove dead skin cells and the top layer of skin, so that the fresh, new skin cells of the layer below can shine through. Conversely, sun exposure can increase the turnover of skin and therefore is naturally exfoliating. “But if you have rosacea or painful cystic acne, the acid may be too harsh. Use of this site constitutes acceptance of our User Agreement (updated 1/1/20) and Privacy Policy and Cookie Statement (updated 1/1/20) and Your California Privacy Rights. Over the past month and a half, I’ve been using the new Advanced Clinicals 10% Glycolic Serum. How does Glycolic Acid work? “Normal, intact stratum corneum consists of tightly packed layers of dead skin cells that are tightly bonded together," says Howe. "Any form might irritate them, whether it’s in a topical product, a home-use peeling pad, or an office-based peel procedure.”, There's also a seasonal factor to consider. How Does Glycolic Acid Work? Any time people start discussing the best ways to exfoliate their skin, it’s not long before the ingredients glycolic acid (AHA) and salicylic acid (BHA) are brought up. It helps shed dead skin cells and reveal the newer, brighter layers underneath by acting on the stratum corneum (the outermost layer of skin). Try one that pairs glycolic with hydrating ingredients, like Glow Recipe's Blueberry Bounce Gentle Cleanser, which includes hyaluronic acid. Discolored or brown spots on the skin, which can occur due to aging or sun exposure, can sometimes be covered with cosmetics. 10% is imo medium strength for non-peel AHA, I wouldn't start off there if you have sensitive skin. In the winter, when your skin's barrier function might be compromised (and therefore skin appears dry or chapped), this can allow for deeper penetration and, in a nutshell, irritation. Were I to run for president (of whatever), my slogan would be Glycolic Acid Deserves More Credit. But it's unique. There are 3 levels of peels (mild-glycolic acid, moderate-TCA, deeper-Phenol). For those scars, chemical peels can be done in phases, with as many as six in a certain period of time. But what we love more is getting our hands on the products and discovering ourselves that they really really work. How Does Glycolic Acid Peel Work? Chemical exfoliants - despite the name - are often actually more delicate on the skin compared to manual exfoliants like scrubs, as they won’t cause microtears from friction. Here's a breakdown of the most common questions about glycolic acid and what exactly makes it such a great ingredient. So I went to buy some toner and it has Salicylic Acid. The loosened dead skin cells are then sloughed off, uncovering a newer more radiant, glowing skin underneath. "Glycolic acid is the smallest acid in size, meaning the molecule is the most effective in penetrating the dermis to weaken cell bonds deep within the skin," Dr Engelman explained. We love the thrill of getting our hands on beauty products which contain the most talked about ingredients. Since it's a powerful acid, you run the risk of skin irritation or burns. If I were to get into the lobbying game, I would sell my soul for glycolic acid. And even if you do think your skin is tough, combining glycolic acid with retinol can still be problematic. " Glycolic acid works by dissolving the glue that holds together dead skin cells, lifting pigment from the skin, and increasing collagen production," explains Dr Obayan. How long does glycolic acid take to work? For those favouring lactic acid, try a 10% formula every other day." Another advantage? How does Azelaic Acid work to treat Acne? Azelaic Acid is antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, and anti-keratinizing (meaning it prevents a build-up of dead skin, which could in turn prevent clogged pores that cause breakouts). Kojic Acid is used to lighten age spots but does it work? [Acne] Glycolic acid works on my skin but not Salicylic Acid. While most people are familiar with physical exfoliation, which involves manually buffing away the dead skin from the surface, Glycolic Acid is one of a class of chemical exfoliants. ), and contains a blend of Glycolic, Lactic, Salicylic and Phytic Acids which have really helped with my skin texture and acne. Well, the toner in my kit always runs out before the cleanser and the lotion. 30% glycolic is peel strength, I'd suggest not starting off with a peel. (Although, no matter the time of year or where you're going, slathering on SPF is essential—especially after exfoliating.). Glycolic acid also stimulates your skin to create more collagen. “But not what happened to Samantha in Sex and the City,” says Howe. The skin easily absorbs it. So I went to buy some toner and it has Salicylic Acid. It also … © 2020 Condé Nast. “I feel glycolic acid is most effective when administered as a chemical peel done in a health care practitioner’s office,” says Howe. If you didn’t buy glycolic acid in a set, you’ll also need witch hazel to use before the acid. This peel also promotes both anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant … However, approach with caution if you have dry skin, sensitivity, or cystic acne. Glycolic acid works by speeding up cell turnover. “This thinning of the outer layer of your skin increases the penetration of glycolic acid, and with that the likelihood of irritation.”One easy way to avoid a DIY disaster is to look for glycolic-based products that are formulated with a low percentage of other gentler exfoliants (like the Cane + Austin 5% Glycolic Acid and 2% Salicylic Acid Acne Retexture Pads and Pixi Beauty Glow Peel Pads, below) and stick to serums and moisturizers with hydrating ingredients like hyaluronic acid for the rest of your routine.Â. Just like every other skin care treatment, consistency is key when using glycolic acid products. Here's how they work. Does Glycolic Acid Work? The papillary layer of the dermis can have increased levels of collagen and elastin created through activation of fibrolasts. Yes, glycolic acid is a great choice for acne-prone skin, says Loretta Ciraldo, M.D., board-certified dermatologist and founder of Dr. Loretta Skincare. Or should I just find a toner that has glycolic acid? “The medical-grade peel pads we use are stronger, with more potent effects, and many people get better results with stronger treatments done intermittently—once a month, say.”Â, Obviously, getting to a derm every month isn't always in the cards, which is where milder forms exfoliation like at-home peel pads come in. First off, is it ok to use a Salicylic Acid tóner with a kit that already has benzoyl Peroxide? To break it down simply, glycolic acid works by squeezing itself between the matrices of cells. First and foremost, glycolic acid is an exfoliant. In these cases it's important to consult with a dermatologist or an experienced aesthetician.”Â, If you have moderate to advanced acne or are looking to lighten hyperpigmentation and scarring, Ciraldo recommends choosing a product with 10% glycolic acid—she likes her Micro Peel Peptide Pads or the L'Oréal RevitaLift 10% Glycolic Acid Resurfacing Serum. I can't just go out and buy another one of my 3 Step kits just for the toner :/. Glycolic acid is a member of the α-hydroxy acid (AHA) family, and is one of the most commonly used chemical peeling agents employed to address a wide variety of skin care complaints, including: acne, hyperpigmentation, and fine lines/wrinkles. I personally swear by BeautyRx Advanced 10% Exfoliating Pads, while Dr. Dennis Gross Alpha Beta Universal Daily Peel has a cult following for delivering gentle but effective exfoliation.Â, “It's best for normal, combination, and oily skin types,” says Shapiro. First off, is it ok to use a Salicylic Acid tóner with a kit that already has benzoyl Peroxide? But because glycolic acid is so small, it can get deeper into your skin too, where it does some serious work. Glycolic acid is used primarily on skin with sun damage. “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 stimulates fibroblasts in the dermis to produce increased amounts of collagen,” says Howe. GA temporarily loosens the structure of the tough, outermost layer of your skin in order to work a more even and complete exfoliation (as compared to, say, a scrub), according to research published in the Archives of Dermatological Research. To revisit this article, visit My Profile, then View saved stories. 8% or less is probably a better starting off point, or you could check out gentler alternatives such as mandelic acid or lactic acid. If you're sensitive or have more mild acne, go with a lower percentage.Â. "Glycolic acid loosens these bonds.” With their glue dissolved by glycolic acid, those tough, rough layers of dead skin cells can more easily slough away. Makeup ideas, product reviews, and the latest celebrity trends—delivered straight to your inbox. It has Benzoyl Peroxide and glycolic acid as a toner. Well, the toner in my kit always runs out before the cleanser and the lotion. How does this tiny molecule work to give you the skin of yesteryear? Today video is a Doctors Opinion ON Kojic Acid. Glycolic acid peel is an acid that can brighten your skin and reduce the appearance of acne. “People with dry, highly sensitive skin often react to it with irritation," says Howe. Glycolic acid is a type of alpha-hydroxy acid (or AHA) that's derived from sugar cane. 2  Collagen is the protein that gives skin its firmness, plumpness, and elasticity. Since glycolic acid works to get rid of those dead skin cells, at least on a microscopic level, “you get more vibrancy and luminosity,” Ciraldo said. Not only can you rinse it off if you feel tingling, but even if it penetrates deeply into your skin, it eventually reaches the water in the dermis. I like multitaskers and this one does a lot of jobs: It exfoliates skin: It dissolves the glue that holds skin cells together so they can slough off. It’s only $15.95 (discount code later! The glycolic acids act on the epidermis to exfoliate the outer layer. That means any manual exfoliant (like a face scrub), benzoyl peroxide, and—depending on how well your skin can stand up to harsh products—retinol. But as with anything, glycolic acid is not for everyone. Glycolic acid and Salicylic acid are chemical exfoliators that make the skin look smoother, brighter and ultimately, younger. Strong bonds seen in sebum cells are held together by a glue like substance. Ad Choices, Everything You Need to Know About Glycolic Acid, Explained. 1  It helps dissolve the bonds that hold skin cells together, allowing dead skin cells to slough off more rapidly than they would on their own. Most scars, however, are deeper. GA is a chemical exfoliant. However, when you buy something through our retail links, we may earn an affiliate commission. And I've noticed more acne than when I use the toner from my kit. After years of alternating between salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide, brushing off flakes caused by retinol, and piling on pounds of concealer to cover an errant breakout, I was finally able to walk outside without makeup and not feel self-conscious about my acne-prone skin. If you want to learn more or see a visual of what the keratinization process looks like, watch this video. When applied to the skin, acne products containing glycolic acid weaken the “glue” that holds dead skin cells together. A chemical peel removes the top layer of skin, exposing the layer below. It helps shed dead skin cells and reveal the newer, brighter layers underneath by acting on the stratum corneum (the outermost layer of skin). Between the superficial action on your stratum corneum and the work it does below, “your skin will feel smoother and look more radiant and even-toned,” Shapiro says. As with any exfoliant, it's best to start small if you have sensitive skin or are prone to irritation. There it's neutralized and won't go any further. According to board-certified dermatologist Loretta Ciraldo, the main function of glycolic acid is to exfoliate the skin, or as she explains, it’s “ungluing dead cells from each other.” Once applied, glycolic acid reacts with the epidermis’s upper layer, weakening the lipids’ binding properties that hold the dead skin cells together. Glamour may earn a portion of sales from products that are purchased through our site as part of our Affiliate Partnerships with retailers. “If you have a mild to moderate case of acne, you can use it and simply avoid it over areas that are already sensitive,” says Ciraldo. You’ll want to apply the acid when you have a few days off, like on a Friday evening, since your skin can go red and peel off afterwards. Alpha Hydroxy Acids (known as AHAs, including glycolic, lactic, and citric amongst a few) cant get raved about enough these days. For example, if it took you weeks to acclimate to retinol burn, then adding glycolic acid on top of it is likely too much for you. When absorbed, the glycolic acid dissolves the bonds that hold the dead skin cells together. How does Glycolic Acid Work? What’s In The Ordinary Glycolic Acid 7% Toning Solution? If you know your skin is up for glycolic, try it in a peel. Glycolic acid can also help reduce oil on the surface of the skin 2. Glycolic acid is my favourite exfoliant. Glycolic acid is an alpha hydroxy acid and is used to stimulate new collagen growth 2. If a scar is close to the surface of the skin, the peel will remove the layer that has the scar. For this, Shapiro recommends using it in a face wash. “A glycolic cleanser can get your skin used to it, rather than diving straight into a leave-on glycolic product if you are unsure whether your skin can tolerate it,” she says. How Does Glycolic Acid Work? Glycolic acid is supposedly colorless, but The Ordinary Glycolic Acid Toning Solution actually has a yellowish tint to it. The Blueberry and Apple extracts work to soften and soothe sun damaged skin. It joins other acids you might recognize, such as lactic acid (derived from sour milk and purportedly a favorite of Cleopatra's), tartaric acid (from grapes), and citric acid—which, you might guess, comes from citrus fruits. Follow her on Instagram @deannapai. All products featured on Glamour are independently selected by our editors. No hyperbole: Glycolic acid changed my life. Once glycolic acid loosens and removes this top layer of old cells, the healthy, living cells beneath the surface are revealed, new cell growth is encouraged and your skin looks and feels smoother. It has Benzoyl Peroxide and glycolic acid as a toner. While glycolic acid can be beneficial in conjunction with other, gentler exfoliators like salicylic acid, combining it with more hard-core exfoliating ingredients is best avoided. And I've noticed more acne than when I use the toner from my kit. So I've finally checked the ingredients on a 3 step kit Ive been using for years. It also works to exfoliate and shed dead skin cells by scrubbing the top layer of the skin. "If you’re happy using glycolic acid, try a 10% formula for daily use, or a 30% once or twice a week. These are products you can use more regularly in your routine—anywhere from twice a week to every other day if you know your skin can tolerate it.