We have the advantage of living in a time when there’s a world of skincare options at our fingertips. Some of these options have been brought to us by advancements in technology, while others have made their way into our favorite skincare products through the discovery of the wonders of nature. Over time, we’ve discovered that some of the skincare ingredients that are best for our complexion come straight from the natural world around us.
Glycolic acid is among this group. Glycolic acid is a naturally occurring compound, and for a few decades now we’ve been exploring all the wonderful things it can do for our skin. Glycolic acid is also one of the most common names you’ll see on the label of results-driven skincare products. This is because glycolic acid is readily available, gentle, suitable for most skin types, and produces beautiful results. Maybe you’ve used products with glycolic acid or are just curious about it. Either way, here’s a quick primer on what glycolic acid is, and what it does for your skin.
What Is Glycolic Acid?
Glycolic acid isn’t exactly the new kid on the scene. For more than two decades, we’ve been learning about glycolic acid and how it’s one of the best things you can put on your skin, regardless of your skin type.
Glycolic acid is natural, and one of the gentler alpha-hydroxy acids you’ll find in skincare today. Glycolic acid is an AHA (alpha-hydroxy acid) that’s all-natural, being derived from sugar cane. It belongs to a group of other acids commonly found in food, and skincare. Think along the lines of citric acid, lactic acid, and tartaric acid. These acids are known for their skin rejuvenating properties.
Glycolic acid stands alone as the one most widely used and respected in the skincare and beauty industry. Of all the alpha-hydroxy acids, glycolic acid has the smallest molecular structure. This makes it very effective at penetrating the skin and performing its magic. Compared to other AHAs, glycolic acid is the most bioavailable, meaning it’s also the one that’s going to produce the most noticeable results.
What Exactly Does Glycolic Acid Do?
Glycolic acid’s main claim to fame is its exfoliant capabilities. In fact, when glycolic acid first came on the scene it was due to the fact that it produced results similar to expensive peels and other treatments for improving the surface of the skin.
Unlike harsh exfoliants, the enzymes in glycolic acid work to remove dead surface skin cells by loosening the bonds that keep these cells attached. Eventually, dead skin cells will loosen and fall off on their own, but at a rate that’s rarely fast enough to keep your skin healthy and glowing. Glycolic acid speeds the process along, without the need for an abrasive exfoliant or harsh chemicals.
The first, most obvious benefit of exfoliation by glycolic acid is a smooth, radiant complexion. Honestly, this was all that glycolic acid accomplished it would be enough. However, this multi-tasking ingredient does much more.
Maybe you’ve noticed that glycolic acid is found in products aimed at treating problematic skin issues, like acne, as well as being a key ingredient in antiaging products. It isn’t often that we see an ingredient span the range of skincare in the way glycolic acid does.
For starters, glycolic acid is excellent at promoting cell turnover. This is important to the health of your skin for many reasons. First, as skin cells age, they become damaged. In some cases, pigmentation goes a little haywire, and dead skin cells love to hold onto melanin. By using a product that contains glycolic acid on a regular basis, you’re helping to remove all those damaged skin cells that are bringing your complexion down, and supporting the regeneration of fresh, new skin cells in their place.
Secondly, cellular turnover and regeneration begin to slow down as we age. When we’re younger, new skin cells are popping up and old ones are sloughing off at a faster rate. By the time we’re in our thirties or beyond, the rate of cellular regeneration has slowed down, and we’re left with skin that can look and feel a little lifeless. Glycolic acid remedies this by promoting a faster turnover rate for your skin cells.
Finally, glycolic acid helps to support collagen production. Much like cellular regeneration, collagen synthesis begins to slow to crawl as we age. Anything we can do to spark collagen production is a bonus in the antiaging game. Collagen plays an important role in the skin’s support system, helping to keep it firm and supple. As collagen production declines, we start to see our skin lose its firmness and elasticity. Glycolic acid is a skincare treatment you can use to protect your skin from premature aging and keep it beautiful looking through the years.
A Little Discovery Is a Wonderful Thing
If you have been looking for a way to improve the overall texture and health of your skin, glycolic acid is a wonderful addition to your regular skincare routine. Glycolic acid is one of the gentlest alpha-hydroxy acids, and it has been shown to produce beautiful results. Now is the perfect time to do a little discovery of your own and find out for yourself how effective glycolic is for helping you achieve the beautiful, radiant skin you deserve.