From brightening dull skin, to improving the appearance of discolouration and smoothing away ageing signs, glycolic acid is revered by beauty experts for the way it targets and improves a range of skin concerns.
But how does glycolic acid actually work and is it right for you?
What is glycolic acid?
Glycolic acid is a mild exfoliating acid that belongs to the family of alpha-hydroxy acids (AHA) and is widely used by beauty experts in products and professional treatments. Unlike lactic and salicylic acids, glycolic has a small molecular size that allows it to penetrate the skin faster.
But what does it do and what results should you expect?
The exfoliating quality of glycolic acid effectively loosens dead and dehydrated cells from the surface of the skin, increasing cellular turnover and helping to improve the appearance of blemishes, dull skin, fine lines and rough textures. Many professional chemical peels also use glycolic acid to help deliver a more intensive treatment to the skin and effectively improve the texture and brightness of the skin.
How active is your acid?
When shopping for a product containing glycolic acid, it’s important to note the Free Acid Value which should be detailed on the packaging. This term refers to the true strength of glycolic acid present and the amount that will reach your skin – this is affected by the overall pH of the formula. For the most effective results, we advise using a product with a Free Acid Value of around 10% as this will help you to achieve great results. Anything lower than 4% may be too gentle and not exfoliate the skin adequately.
How to introduce glycolic acid into your routine
Using glycolic acid boosts collagen and cell turnover and is ideally applied at night. Glycolic acid strength should be in the 4–10% range with the higher percentages more appropriate for night time use. You might need to start applying glycolic acid night cream slowly and always wear an SPF during the day
Cleansing with a soft-foaming gel such as SkinCeuticals’ Glycolic Renewal Cleanser is an ideal way to introduce an exfoliating acid into your routine. Formulated with a high concentration of glycolic acid, it has a Free Acid Value of 8%, and is formulated alongside phytic acid, aloe barbadensis leaf extract (aloe vera) and glycerin to promote clarity and brightness in the skin. Use it morning and evening to remove makeup and impurities and keep on top of skin concerns such as discolouration, fine lines and wrinkles.
Sun protection and glycolic acid
While glycolic acid is brilliant at shedding dead skin cells and brightening the surface of the skin, it does also leave the complexion more susceptible to skin damage due to its exfoliating nature. This is why it’s vital that it is always used in conjunction with a broad spectrum sunscreen to protect it from UVA and UVB damage. Apply a tinted sunscreen fluid such as SkinCeuticals’ Mineral Radiance UV Defence SPF 50 to your face and neck each morning - after your usual serum and moisturiser and before makeup. Mineral radiance further enhances your radiant glow.
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