What does glycolic acid do to your skin?

What is glycolic acid?

Glycolic acid is a water-soluble alpha hydroxy acid (AHA) made from sugar cane. It is one of the most widely used AHAs in skincare products.
AHAs are natural acids that come from plants. They consist of tiny molecules that are very easy for your skin to absorb. This makes them ideal for smoothing fine lines, improving skin texture, and other anti-aging uses.

Benefits of glycolic acid

When applied to the skin, glycolic acid works to break the bonds between the outer layer of skin cells, including dead skin cells, and the next skin cell layer. This creates a peeling effect that can make the skin appear smoother and more even.
For people with acne, the benefit of glycolic acid is that the peeling results in less “gunk” that clogs the pores. This includes dead skin cells and oil. With less to clog the pores, the skin can clear, and you’ll usually have fewer breakouts.
Glycolic acid can also affect the outer skin barrier, helping it retain moisture instead of drying your skin out. This is an advantage for acne-prone skin, because many other topical anti-acne agents, like salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide, are drying.

What It Does for Your Skin

Glycolic acid is a very popular treatment for many reasons, including:

  • l Anti-aging: It smooths fine wrinkles and improves the skin’s tone and texture.
  • l Hydration: It plumps the skin and prevents it from getting dry.
  • l Sun damage: It fades dark patches caused by sun damage and protects collagen from the sun.
  • l Complexion: It brightens the skin when used regularly.
  • l Exfoliation: It prevents ingrown hairs and makes pores appear smaller by helping the skin shed dead skin cells.
  • l Acne: It cleans out pores to prevent comedones, blackheads, and inflamed breakouts.

What Else Does Glycolic Acid Do?

Some dermatologists also favor glycolic acid over other acids to improve skin issues like blackheads, hyperpigmentation, enlarged pores, psoriasis, keratosis pilaris and hyperkeratosis, among others. It also removes excess oil, just as it relieves dry and scaly skin conditions.