Is Glycolic Acid Safe?
Finding great skincare products that are both super effective and safe for your skin can be a challenge. It seems like at every turn we’re hearing about how this or that is bad for our skin, or even worse – dangerous to our overall health. It’s enough to leave you questioning the skincare ingredients you’ve come to love over the years.
When it comes to skincare, glycolic acid has quite a fan following. Naturally, the popularity of glycolic acid in skincare raises some questions about whether it’s really safe to use, especially long term. You’re smart to ask this question, so let’s take a closer look and find the answer you’re looking for.
Is Glycolic Acid Safe for Your Skin?
The simplest answer to this question is yes, glycolic acid is generally considered to be a very safe and effective skincare treatment. The skincare and beauty industry is dependent upon ingredients that produce results, creating a noticeable difference in the skin’s health and appearance. Not all of the ingredients that do this are created equal, though, and some can actually be harmful to use long term.
Fortunately, glycolic acid isn’t one of them. Using glycolic acid according to directions isn’t going to compromise the health of your skin or present any danger to overall health. Of course, glycolic acid is only one ingredient but it’s often the star of the show. It’s important to look past glycolic acid on the labels of the skincare products you use and make note of the other ingredients, both active and inactive.
When someone has a negative experience with glycolic acid, it’s often the case that the product they’re using contains other ingredients that are harsh or unsuited for their skin type. For instance, glycolic acid can be found in many products claiming antiaging properties. If you’re accustomed to using glycolic acid for its antiaging benefits, the last thing you want to do is apply a product formulated for acne-prone skin, simply because you see glycolic acid on the label. The results could be less than optimal for mature skin that leans toward being dry and sensitive. The formula and complementary ingredients play a major role in how well glycolic acid will work for your skin.
Precautions When Using Glycolic Acid
Glycolic acid works to improve the health and appearance of your skin in several ways. However, it’s glycolic acid’s exfoliation properties that really stand out. Glycolic acid is an enzymatic exfoliant, which means rather than using abrasive elements to lift dead skin cells off, it contains natural enzymes that loosen the “glue” that binds dead skin cells to the skin’s surface.
Bear in mind that anytime you exposing fresh new skin, you’re also creating some vulnerabilities, and it doesn’t really matter how gentle your exfoliant is. This means when you use glycolic acid, whether occasionally or on a regular basis, there are some notable precautions you should take.
The first one is to take extra steps to protect your skin from the sun. Like all members of the alpha-hydroxy family, glycolic acid can cause your skin to be more sensitive to the sun. Make sure you apply sunscreen, even if it’s a cloudy day and you’re just going for a walk around the block. If you don’t remember to do this, you risk losing all the benefits that glycolic acid provides by damaging your skin further.
If you work in an environment with lots of natural light exposure or spend any significant amount of time near a large window, make sure you’re applying sunscreen as well. UV rays easily penetrate windows, including car windows for those of you who spend a lot of time on the road.
It’s also important to allow your skin to acclimate to glycolic acid. You don’t want to start off with the most potent product you can find and layer it on several times a day. This is a recipe for dryness, peeling, and painful irritation.
You need to remember that glycolic acid is removing old skin cells and exposing fresh, new skin cells. Using glycolic acid too much at first can irritate that newly exposed skin, causing it to dry out and peel. It’s best to start with a lower potency formula and applying once or twice a week to start. If your skin tolerates it well, increase the frequency. However, there’s no need to rush. Using glycolic acid regularly, even if sparingly, improves the health, appearance, and texture of your skin.
Finally, always pay attention to the instructions on your skincare products. There are many glycolic acid treatments that suggest using them in the evening rather than as part of your daytime skincare routine. While you’re sleeping, glycolic acid gets hard at work taking advantage of the normal cellular renewal process that occurs during your blissful slumber. Plus, you don’t have to worry about slathering sunscreen on top of your glycolic acid treatment if you’re going to be tucked snuggly in your bed.
Taking Great Care of Your Skin Begins with Knowledge
For your skin to look its absolute best, it’s important to understand the ingredients in your skincare products, what they do for your skin, and whether they’re really safe to use. Glycolic acid is generally safe and produces incredible results, especially when combined in a gentle formula created especially for your skin type. Learn all that you can, and look forward to a lifetime of beautiful, radiant skin.