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All that one needs to know about glycolic acid

The exfoliator, also stimulates fibroblasts in the dermis to produce increased amounts of collagen

The Telegraph Published 17.02.22, 12:39 AM

Glycolic acid is extremely good for acne-prone skin, hyperpigmentation, dullness and signs of ageing, such as lines and wrinkles. But what is it?

• It is a type of alpha-hydroxy acid (or AHA) that comes from sugar cane. Other AHAs are lactic acid, tartaric and citric acid. Glycolic acid is the simplest and smallest of AHAs with the lowest molecular weight, which is why it’s easy for it to penetrate the skin and be super effective.


• Glycolic acid is an exfoliant that helps shed dead skin cells. Getting deep into the skin, too, it stimulates fibroblasts in the dermis to produce increased amounts of collagen, which helps skin to feel firmer and reduces fine lines and wrinkles.

• Glycolic acid and skin-care routine: Start small if you have sensitive skin or are prone to irritation. First use it in a face wash. Try one that combines glycolic acid with a hydrating agent such as hyaluronic acid.

If your skin is ok with glycolic, try it in a peel.

For acne-prone skin:

Glycolic acid unglues dead skin cells from each other, which clears out the pores. It also prevents most types of acne, such as blackheads, whiteheads and pimples, for all of which the root cause is a build-up of oil.

But be cautious if you have dry skin, sensitivity, or cystic acne. For moderate acne, hyperpigmentation and scarring, experts recommend a product with 10% glycolic acid.

Side effects:

It’s a powerful acid, and you could have skin irritation or burns. But overall it is considered safe.

It has another advantage. A “built-in safeguard”. It is immediately neutralised following contact with water. It can be washed away and even if it penetrates deeply into your skin, it reaches the water in the dermis and is neutralised.

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