What is Glycolic Acid?

Glycolic acid is a naturally-derived fruit acid found in fruits such as sugar cane, pineapple and other citrus fruits. Glycolic acid or alpha-hydroxy acids or AHA in short, is an umbrella term for such naturally occurring acids including citric acid.

Glycolic acid is a chemical peel used in cosmetic treatment of skin conditions such as works as wrinkle-reduction, clearing acne scars and hyper-pigmentation and provide substantial improvement for skin conditions such as seborrheic keratosis, actinic keratosis and hyperkeratosis. Glycolic acid is a powerful exfoliating agent which works on multiple layers of skin, destroying the binding lipids in order to release dead skin cells.

This exfoliation process accelerates collagen production and hasten skin renewal by multiple-folds. Users of this cosmetic treatment will witness more refined looking skin and a clearer complexion. Another benefit of using Glycolic acid is that with the new layer of skin exposed, the skin will be more receptive of other skin treatments such as a beneficial moisturizer. Glycolic peel’s secondary benefit is glycolic acid’s ability to draw moisturizers into the newly-exfoliated skin surface. A Glycolic peel system generally contains peel, neutralizer (to neutralize the acidity for a thorough wash) and a moisturizer.

Glycolic acid has found its way into skin care treatments because of its amazing abilities to penetrate layers of skin. Glycolic acid or chemical peel treatments can be done in a dermatologist’s office or done privately at home. Dermatologists usually offer concentrations ranging from 20% -70% while home based treatments can be sought at around 10%-50%.

While concentration plays a role in effectiveness when it comes to glycolic acid peels, the pH level of the solution also adds another crucial factor in the potency of the peel solution. Home treatment peels may be higher in pH while a prescribed strength peel tend to gravitate lower, some as low as pH of 0.6. Physician-strength peels can have a pH as low as 0.6. Since the lower the pH, the stronger the peel tends to be, in general, a physician strength peel tends to be more potent.

Chemical peel treatments will make the skin more prone to sunburn and skin damage skin a brand new layer of skin is exposed after the treatment. Thus, it is vital to keep a strict skincare regime where the use of a high SPF sunscreen (35 or higher) is used on a daily basis during daytime. It is advisable to use leave-on Glycolic solutions (they are of lower concentrations) at night time to reduce the chances of sunburn. However, it can be used in the daytime if sufficient sunscreen is slathered on and reapplied during extended exposure to the sun.