Glycolic Acid

What Is Glycolic Acid?

Glycolic acid is a type of alpha hydroxy acid (AHA) that chemically exfoliates the skin by dissolving dead skin cells and oils. You may be familiar with other alpha hydroxy acids, such as citric acid or lactic acid. However, glycolic acid is different.

Glycolic acid, which is derived from sugar cane, can remove the top layer of skin without harsh scrubbing – making it a popular ingredient for treatments and products that aim to improve skin texture and appearance.


What Are the Properties of Glycolic Acid?

Glycolic acid has many properties, including:

  • Exfoliative: Unlike mechanical exfoliants (such as face scrubs), glycolic acid is a chemical exfoliant that does not require harsh scrubbing. Instead, glycolic acid removes the outermost layer of skin cells and oils by dissolving them.
  • Humectant: As a humectant, glycolic acid attracts and binds water to skin cells.
  • Anti-aging: Glycolic acid can reduce sun damage and increase production of collagen and hyaluronic acid in the skin.
  • Antibacterial: Research shows that glycolic acid can inhibit the growth of bacteria.

What Is Glycolic Acid Treatment?

There are several ways to incorporate glycolic acid into your skin care routine, such as cleansers, toners, lotions, serums, masks, and peels. High concentrations of glycolic acid can cause serious skin reactions, so any product containing more than 10% glycolic acid should only be used while under the care of a dermatologist. Your Forefront skin care expert can suggest the best and safest glycolic acid treatment for you.

How does glycolic acid treatment work? By loosening and dissolving tightly-packed dead skin cells and oils so they more easily slough away. Glycolic acid also stimulates collagen production, which smooths your skin and minimizes fine lines and wrinkles.

What Are the Benefits of Glycolic Acid Treatment?

In addition to improving your appearance, glycolic acid treatment can help reduce mild to moderate acne, acne scars, sun damage, dark spots, and other signs of aging.

What Are the Risks of Glycolic Acid Treatment?

All chemical exfoliants come with some risks. For instance, because alpha hydroxy acids remove the top layer of skin cells, they can leave the cells underneath more vulnerable to future sun damage.

Some people have reactions to products that contain glycolic acid, such as redness, itching, burning, or swelling – especially if they use a product that is too strong for their skin, or use it too frequently. Be sure to follow your Forefront skin care expert’s instructions and contact our office right away if you have a severe reaction.

How to Use Glycolic Acid Safely

Glycolic acid is not suitable for everyone, so it’s always best to use glycolic acid under the supervision of a skin care expert. Whenever you use a product that contains glycolic acid, you should also follow these steps:

  • Test it first: Try the product on a small area of skin (not your face) to make sure your skin can tolerate it.
  • Start slowly: Start with a low-strength product, using it infrequently at first. If your skin shows no sign of an adverse reaction, you can slowly increase your use (according to instructions). Never use a product more often than the label or your skin care expert tells you.
  • Pick one: There’s no need to use multiple products – one should be enough to get the benefits. Using one product at a time also lets you know if it’s working.
  • Limit sun exposure: Wear sunscreen every day during treatment and for at least one week after treatment is complete.

Glycolic acid tends to be most effective when administered as a chemical peel in a dermatologist’s office. Your Forefront skin care expert can explain how the process works and how long you should wait between glycolic acid peel treatments.

Can I Alternate Glycolic and Hyaluronic Acid Treatments?

Yes, although it’s typically recommended that you use glycolic acid first, then hyaluronic acid. Both can greatly benefit your skin when used properly.

Get the facts about glycolic acid treatment. Book a consultation with a skin care expert today.

Interested in Glycolic Acid? Request a consultation with a skin specialist today.

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