Ingredient Spotlight: Glycolic Acid

Gentleman receiving a Glycolic Acid mask made of fruit

You may or may not have heard of the term glycolic acid before. If you haven’t heard of it, it is definitely a term that you should be aware of. Glycolic acid comes from a family of acids known as Alpha-Hydroxy Acids, also known as AHAs. AHAs are considered to be extremely beneficial for your skin because of the fact that they’re highly useful when it comes to things like anti-aging. Like all other AHAs, glycolic acids are also derived from natural sources – in this case sugar cane.

Glycolic Acid represents the smallest molecule of the AHA family and it has proven to help out with anti-aging as well as common skin issues like melasma, acne and pigmentation. Although most AHAs are quite beneficial for the skin, the cosmetics and skin care industry usually prefers glycolic acid because of the fact that it is considered to be the best at penetrating skin cells.

Vine Vera discovered a study conducted by researchers from the Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston which used a double-blind study to confirm that patients who used 8% glycolic acid creams on their face managed to achieve an improvement of at least 1 grade in terms of the overall severity of photodamage. Glycolic acid was also shown to offer superior benefits on the forearms in this study.

Glycolic acid is also used as an exfoliant so as to help you get rid of dead skin cells from the outermost layer of the skin. This acid works by dissolving the oils that hold dead skin cells onto the surface of your skin. The small molecular structure of glycolic acids also makes them most useful for such cosmetic treatment. Furthermore, glycolic acid can also exfoliate the skin by increasing the separation of your skin cells through a process known as corneocyte desquamation. As a result, glycolic acid is an excellent ingredient for exfoliation for anyone with non-sensitive skin.

Apart from working as an exfoliator and an anti-aging ingredient, Glycolic acid also increases the supply of hyaluronic acid in the skin. However, you need to understand that the higher the value of the glycolic acid, the more sensitive your skin becomes to the sun’s rays. Therefore, it is essential to choose products that have the right formulations of glycolic acid.

Most anti-aging products use glycolic acid at concentrations of less than 10%. This makes it completely safe for use and it also means that the acid requires more time to bring about noticeable results on your skin.

Glycolic acid is best suited for people with dry or mature skin when used as an anti-aging ingredient. It can also help people with acne prone skin because of its ability to reduce acne scarring. People with oily skin should always use salicylic acid instead of glycolic acid.

Now that you’re aware of how glycolic acid works, you’re probably wondering what does it actually have to offer for your skin. Well, glycolic acid does have many skin care benefits, the main one being the smaller sized molecules. This makes the acid highly effective as an exfoliator and also makes it the perfect ingredient to give your skin a healthier glow.

When you begin to use glycolic acid based products on a regular basis, your pore size should look smaller, thereby making you less susceptible to issues like fine lines, acne, scarring and wrinkles. Moreover, you can also expect issues like hyperpigmentation to look reduced. The overall texture of your skin undergoes tremendous improvement as well. Finally, since glycolic acid manages to make its way to your dermis, the layer of your skin where the collagen and elastin proteins are located, it acts as a water binding agent and ends up giving your skin a plumber and healthier look.

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