Glycolic acid is a powerful skincare ingredient which is known for its ability to make your skin look like new. Its exfoliating and renewing properties help to treat imperfections, skin spots and wrinkles, improve the appearance of acne-prone and acne-scarred skin and stimulate collagen production.
In this article, we'll explain in depth the benefits of glycolic acid, and we'll offer some recommendations to help you use it to achieve your best skin.
What is glycolic acid?
Glycolic acid is a chemical compound belonging to the alpha hydroxy acid (AHA) family. It is found naturally in sugar cane, grapes and sugar beet and can also be synthesised in a laboratory. It can be used within a professional treatment or as part of your skincare routine at home.
Of all the AHA acids, it has the smallest molecule size and is therefore the most able to penetrate to the depths of your skin.1 As a result, it's a popular chemical exfoliant. This means that it dissolves the dead skin cells without the need for abrasive scrubbing.
What does glycolic acid do? What are its benefits?
Glycolic acid benefits your skin in numerous ways:
- Deep exfoliation: by removing the upper skin layer, glycolic acid eliminates dead or damaged skin cells leaving skin that is softer, smoother and more uniform while also strengthening the other layers.
- Improvement of the appearance of oily skin, acne-prone skin and skin with acne scarring: at low concentrations, it controls the skin's sebum production, while at higher concentrations it can reduce the depth and the spreading of scarring.
- Visible fading of skin spots: whether they are the result of sun exposure, ageing or hormonal changes.
- Reduction of the appearance of imperfections: such as enlarged pores, scars and stretch marks.
- Stimulation of collagen and elastin: key active to rejuvenate your skin, leaving it tauter and more elastic.
- Reduction in wrinkles and expression lines: deep skin renewal and collagen production support skin restructuring.
- Support of skin hydration: hydrating agents can penetrate more easily and efficiently.
How to use glycolic acids?
It is vital that you follow the recommendations and precautions when using this active ingredient. When used correctly and in the right concentrations, it is an efficient ingredient which is easy to use and which has a low risk of complications, even for darker skin.2
There are many cosmetic products containing glycolic acid that can be used in the comfort of your own home, such as creams and serums. It's important to know how often to use glycolic acid as part of your morning or night-time routine. In the morning, we recommend washing your face with water and a suitable cleanser followed by a protective serum. Once skin is dry, apply the product containing glycolic acid. This must always be followed with an SPF of at least 50. Before bed, wash your face and apply your chosen product containing glycolic acid.
When it comes to professional treatments, the depth of the exfoliation depends on the concentration, the number of layers and the application time. A glycolic acid peel can be:3
- Very superficial (concentration between 30 and 50%, applied for 1 to 2 minutes).
- Superficial (concentration between 50 and 70%, applied for 2 to 5 minutes).
- Medium depth (up to 70%, applied for 3 to 15 minutes).
Professional treatments with glycolic acid are contraindicated for pregnant women or women who are planning a pregnancy, people with active infections, cold sores, sunburn, inflamed or sensitive skin.
Glycolic acid and retinol
For incredible results, we recommend combining glycolic acid and retinol, an active ingredient which is derived from vitamin A. These ingredients work together perfectly to achieve renewed skin with improved texture and tone.
When creating a routine which combines retinol and glycolic acid, a great place to start is our skinretin 0.3%, a retinol-based product which was recognised by the Belleza Magazine Awards in 2023 as the best anti-ageing product. It works to reduce wrinkles and skin spots and improve luminosity, firmness and elasticity of the skin. It also features a regenerative and balancing action, contained within a formula which is tolerated by most skin types. Use it at night.
Retinol is contraindicated for pregnant women or for those who are planning a pregnancy.
Products with glycolic acid
If you're looking to enjoy the benefits of this ingredient as part of your own skincare routine, we offer a wide variety of products such as a glycolic acid serum and a glycolic acid body wash.
Start with a cleanser containing this active ingredient such as our brightening foam cleansing foam for normal and combination skin which renews and balances your skin while protecting it from pollution in your environment. For combination, oily or acne-prone skin, try the blemiderm®️resurfacing gel, a restorative gel designed to refine your pores, purify and improve skin texture.
If your skin is lacking brightness or is irregularly pigmented, try our brightening peel booster gel.
Apply the ultimate micropeel twice a week, morning or night. This treatment is a microexfoliant with a gentle action that renews and balances your skin while protecting it from pollution and removing dead skin cells, refining its texture, fading imperfections and offering instant softness and luminosity. For a great one-off treatment, we recommend our glycolic + E + F ampoules, an exfoliant which speeds up the regeneration of your cells.
We hope we've helped you to understand the benefits of glycolic acid and how to use this wonderful ingredient in your own routine. Why not give it a try?
We recommend that you always consult a healthcare professional who can advise you on your particular case.