Glycolic acid, which is an alpha hydroxy acid (AHA), is one of the most commonly use ingredients within multiple skin care products including moisturizers and anti-aging treatments. The AHA classification includes chemicals such as glycolic acid as well as lactic acid and malic acid. Glycolic acid benefits include its natural exfoliating properties that work to unclog pores and remove dead cells. However, before understanding the glycolic benefits associate with this popular skincare ingredient, it’s important to understand what exactly an AHA chemical is and how it effectively treats multiple skin issues.
The Benefits of Alpha Hydroxy Acids
Alpha hydroxy acids are a special class of organic compound made from various sugars and fruit acids. Glycolic acid is the smallest of the alpha hydroxy acids and can be found in a number of different fruits such as sugar cane, honey, and even sour milk. Because glycolic acid has smaller molecules than other AHA chemicals including lactic acid and malic acid , it penetrates the skin more easily making its benefits highly effective.
Benefits associated with using an AHA chemical on the surface of the skin include:
- Diminishing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles
- Minimizing age spots
- Facilitating increased cellular turnover rate, which results in a reduction of hyperpigmentation as well as acne scars
Additionally, Alpha hydroxy acids can be helpful for individuals struggling with excessively oily skin because glycolic acid is able to clear away dead cell build up that leaves skin looking dull while simultaneously unclogging pores.
Glycolic Acid Facial Benefits
Although glycolic acid can be purchased in a variety of forms including lotions, creams and cleansers. The most popular way for individuals to use this chemical on their skin is through glycolic acid peels. Glycolic acid chemical peels come in a variety of different strengths. And when appliy professionally can rejuvenate the appearance of skin making it appear smoother, more even-toned and refresh. Facial treatments with this peel may also help reduce inflammatory acne outbreaks and minimize fine lines and wrinkles.
However, facial chemical peels are not a one-size-fits all treatment. Glycolic acid may be too harsh for individuals with sensitive skin, rosacea and eczema . Facial AHA peels can also cause redness and irritation when appliy at home or in the office by an unqualifiy aesthetician so it’s important to be aware of the potential risks and benefits before starting a glycolic acid treatment.
Glycolic Acid Side Effects and Precautions
Although AHA’s like glycolic acid provide many skin rejuvenating benefits, it is important to note their side effects before incorporating them into any topical at-home or professional facial treatments. Some common negative reactions associate with using this type of chemical on the skin include:
Stinging When use incorrectly by individuals without experience or training in cosmetic procedures. AHA chemicals can cause more damage than good. Facial peels that are too strong for an individual’s skin type may result in painful swelling, peeling and blistering. It is important to know your skin type. And what strength of glycolic acid chemical peel is right for you before starting a treatment. Facial treatments with this AHA chemical may not be appropriate for individuals with sensitive skin, rosacea or eczema.
Although AHA chemicals like glycolic acid provide many positive results on the surface of the skin. There are also some serious precautions to consider when using these ingredients in facial treatments. Because excessive sun exposure can make AHA chemicals more potent , it is important to always wear sunscreen during day time hours even when undergoing a daytime glycolic acid treatment in a doctor’s office or salon . Products containing AHAs should never be pair with retinol products because they both work to exfoliate dead cells