How Glycolic Acid Can Elevate Your Skin


All You Need to Know About Glycolic Acid: Benefits, How To Use & More

By Shammi Mondal 


If you’ve been thinking about breaking into the world of chemical exfoliants, we’d like to introduce you to glycolic acid. The skin brightening active not only reduces dark spots and hyperpigmentation, but also tackles breakouts, wrinkles while smoothening your skin’s texture, the multi-tasking ingredient pretty much does it all, phew! Before you add this active in your cart, it is important you do a bit of homework and know the best way to use it.  


What is glycolic acid? 

Glycolic acid is an alpha-hydroxy acid (AHA) which is derived from sugar cane. It belongs to a group of acids that includes lactic acid (obtained from sour milk, reportedly favoured by Cleopatra), tartaric acid (found in grapes), and citric acid (sourced from citrus fruits). 


However, glycolic acid possesses unique characteristics. Among the AHAs, glycolic acid has the simplest anatomy and the smallest molecular structure which makes it easier to penetrates through the different layers of your skin.  


How does glycolic acid work? 

Glycolic acid loosens the bonds between dead skin cells on the surface of the skin and aids in the shedding of dead skin cells, promoting cellular turnover. This helps in clearing he surface and revealing fresher, smoother skin underneath. With its small molecular size, glycolic acid is able to penetrate the skin effectively, making it an effective skincare ingredient. 


How does Glycolic acid benefit your skin? 

Glycolic acid offers a range of benefits for the skin, beyond its exfoliating effects. Here are some notable attributes of glycolic acid.

  • Efficient Exfoliator: Glycolic acid works by gently removing dead skin cells, uncovering the fresh, brighter layers underneath. The outermost layer of your skin called the stratum corneum and the exfoliating active swoops in and loosens the bonds holding those dead cells together, making it easier for them to slough off, resulting in a smoother and softer skin texture.

  • Acne Inhibitor: Glycolic acid pulls out impurities, sebum, and bacteria and unclogs the pores of your skin, glycolic acid helps prevent the formation of blackheads, whiteheads, and other types of acne lesions. Glycolic acid possesses anti-inflammatory properties that can help calm existing acne lesions. It reduces redness and swelling associated with inflamed pimples, making them appear less prominent and helping them heal faster.

  • Collagen Booster: Glycolic acid doesn't only work on the surface; it also reaches deeper layers of the skin and stimulates collagen production in the skin. Collagen is a protein responsible for keeping up your skin's elasticity and firmness. This increased collagen synthesis leads to firmer skin and a reduction in the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. The combined action of glycolic acid on the surface and within the skin results in a smoother, more radiant, and evenly toned complexion.

What’s the way with glycolic acid? 

Glycolic acid is an active ingredient which means that it is always best to follow a gradual and balanced approach when incorporating glycolic acid into your skincare regimen. Here's a step-by-step roadmap on how to do it: 


1. Start with a cleanser: Begin by introducing a glycolic acid-based cleanser into your routine. These products are typically formulated with a lower concentration of glycolic acid and are designed to be used daily. Use it in the morning or evening, depending on your preference, to gently exfoliate your skin and remove impurities.  

2. Gradually increase concentration: If you want to incorporate a more potent form of glycolic acid, such as a serum or peel, it's crucial to start with a lower concentration and gradually increase over time. Begin with products that contain 5-7% glycolic acid and use them once or twice a week initially. Monitor your skin's response, and if there is no irritation, you can gradually increase the frequency or move to higher concentrations.

3. Time it right: It's generally recommended to use glycolic acid products in the evening because they can increase sensitivity to the sun. This way, you can minimize the risk of sun damage. However, if you choose to use it during the day, ensure you follow up with a broad-spectrum sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher.

4. Go big on moisturizer: Glycolic acid is an active ingredient and it may dry your skin out which makes it imperative to replenish and hydrate your skin. Follow up with a moisturizer suitable for your skin type to restore moisture and maintain the skin's barrier function. Look for hydrating ingredients like hyaluronic acid or ceramides to provide additional nourishment.




Q. Can we apply glycolic acid every day?  

A. It is safe to apply a glycolic acid cleanser every day, however if you’re new to chemical exfoliants it is advised that you begin slowly and restrict the usage of glycolic acid to 3-4 times a week to avoid any irritation. 


Q. Does glycolic acid fade dark spots? 

A. Yes, glycolic acid helps reduce hyperpigmentation, Glycolic acid accelerates the natural process of skin cell turnover, and shedding of new skin cells which replaces the pigmented cells with newer skin cells. 


Q. Can we apply glycolic acid and vitamin C together? 

A. No, it is better to not use two active ingredients together to avoid any skin irritations. However, you can apply each on alternate nights.