Glycolic acid belongs to the Alpha-Hydroxy Acid family. They can be isolated from sugarcane, sugar beets, and pineapple. Glycolic acid is applied topically on the skin to dissolve and weaken the glue that binds the dead skin cells together.
This results in the peeling of the outer skin layer which is composed of dead skin cells and the exposure of younger skin cells underneath. The young skin cells have a smoother appearance and more even coloration.
The peeling of old skin cells helps unblock clogged pores thus reducing the formation of whiteheads and blackheads. Since glycolic acid is water-soluble, it may not be able to penetrate very oily skin. It is best used in treating acne where blackhead is not an issue.
Glycolic Acid can be used by pregnant women and is safe during pregnancy. This acne treatment product is not intended to be used on children.
Precautions and Side Effects
The most common side effect of glycolic acid peel is skin irritation. Your skin may turn red and at high concentrations, it may even burn the skin.
Glycolic acid chemical peels are an effective treatment for all types of acne, inducing rapid improvement and restoration to normal-looking skin.
(Source: L. Atzori, M.A. Brundu, A. Orru, P. Biggio (1999) Glycolic acid peeling in the treatment of acne Journal of the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology 12 (2), 119–122.)
The glycolic acid and salicylic acid peels were similarly effective. The salicylic acid peel had sustained effectiveness and fewer side effects. alpha- and beta-Hydroxy acid peels both offer successful adjunctive treatment of facial acne vulgaris.
(Source: Comparison of alpha- and beta-Hydroxy Acid Chemical Peels in the Treatment of Mild to Moderately Severe Facial Acne Vulgaris. Kessler E, Flanagan K, Chia C, Rogers C, Anna Glaser D. Saint Louis University School of Medicine, St Louis, Missouri, USA.)
5% Glycolic Acid is used on dry, dehydrated, and normal skin
10% Glycolic Acid is used on oily skin.
Reviews and Comments:
“I have used 5% Glycolic acid peels one a week and it is considerably less drying than salicylic acid peels”
3. Hydroxy acids and retinoids in cosmetics. Clinics in Dermatology, Volume 19, Issue 4, Pages 460-466 M. Ramos-e-Silva
4. Desai A, Moy LS. The role of -hydroxy acids in the treatment of photoaging. Photoaging. Marcel Dekker, 2004: 117-140