Glycolic Acid in Your Skincare Routine

Glycolic Acid in Your Skincare Routine

1. What is glycolic acid?

2. What are the benefits of glycolic acid?

a. What products have glycolic acid in them?

b. What does toner do for skin?

3. How to use glycolic acid

a. How long to keep glycolic acid on your face

b. What goes well with glycolic acid

 

If you’re looking to streamline your skincare routine, using a product that features glycolic acid as its star ingredient is a great place to start. But don’t let the word “acid” intimidate you! Glycolic acid is naturally occurring and skin-friendly—in fact, it’s also a bit of a show-off: It can be trusted to keep breakouts, wrinkles, dullness and congested skin at bay.

Regardless of your skin type, glycolic acid is one ingredient that you should consider adding to your skincare routine. This multi-tasking ingredient is commonly found in masks, skin toners and exfoliators because it’s such a workhorse. Here’s everything you need to know about glycolic acid products, how to use glycolic acid and what glycolic acid does for the skin.





1. What is glycolic acid?


Glycolic acid is an alpha-hydroxy acid (AHA), which is an organic, carbon-containing molecule. Translation: It’s a clear and odourless molecule that’s naturally found in foods such as sour milk, sugar cane, apples and citrus fruits. That said, most glycolic acid found in skincare is synthetic because it’s more stable, ensuring better delivery to the skin.

There are other well-known AHAs, such as lactic and malic acid, both of which are commonly found in skincare products; glycolic acid, however, is considered the gold standard of AHAs because it’s the most researched and delivers impressive results for all ages and skin types.

Part of the reason for glycolic acid’s remarkable efficiency is that its molecules are among the smallest and lightest of all AHAs so they’re able to penetrate the skin more easily. This means you don’t need a high percentage of the acid in a formula—even 3% to 5% can yield results—which means that most skin types (even sensitive ones) can tolerate it because of its small doses.

2. What are the benefits of glycolic acid?


In the most basic terms, glycolic acid benefits the skin by acting as an exfoliant. It’s a chemical exfoliant that dissolves the bond between dead skin cells, allowing them to shed easily, revealing the smooth skin underneath. Essentially, it speeds up cell turnover and brings fresher, younger cells to the surface. This means that it helps reduce skin dullness and acne, unclogs pores and reveals radiant skin. With regular use, it can even work at the cellular level, boosting collagen production.

a. What products have glycolic acid in them?


If glycol acid hasn't already been incorporated into your routine, what are you waiting for? Whether it's the star ingredient or it’s further down on the list, the safe-for-skin acid can pack a punch in a number of different kinds of formulas. It can be found in all sorts of products, from face washes to medical-grade chemical peels and moisturizers to serums, but one of the most popular delivery methods for glycolic acid is toner.

b. What does toner do for skin?


Does your skin need a toner? No. Could it be improved with the addition of one? Probably. A glycolic acid face toner is simple to use and packs a punch. Like all AHAs, glycolic acid is water-soluble, which means that it works well on the superficial skin layers; this also means that toner is an effective and safe delivery method.

If you’re wondering how to use a glycolic acid toner, simply start by washing your face at night with a gentle cleanser. Next, apply a glycolic acid toner with a toning pad. Then, follow up with your favourite serum and moisturizer. The best glycolic acid toner is one that has less than 5% glycolic acid and helps bring your skin back to its natural acidic state, sweeping impurities away and helping your skin absorb your skincare products.

3. How to use glycolic acid


A skin toner is one way to use glycolic acid, but the powerful AHA can be found in many other forms, such as serums, peels and masks. Whichever product you choose, you’ll see benefits even from a small concentration of glycolic acid. If your skin is more sensitive or dry, look for products that have a lower glycolic acid percentage (5% or less). If you have oily skin, it can tolerate something a little stronger; however, the general rule is nothing over 10% for at-home use. If you’re looking for a stronger formulation, you could get a chemical peel, which contains a higher percentage of glycolic acid; This is done in-office by a dermatologist or a medical aesthetician.

After using any kind of glycolic acid product, you should follow up with a hydrating and moisturizing cream and a generous amount of sunscreen. AHAs, including glycolic acid, increase your skin’s sensitivity to harmful UV rays. To be extra safe—especially for sensitive skin—you can apply your glycolic acid product in the evening. However, you can still use it in your morning routine, but just be sure that you diligently apply a generous amount of SPF at the end of your skincare routine.

a. How long to keep glycolic acid on your face


The majority of products containing lower than 10% glycolic acid do not require rinsing unless the instructions state otherwise. If you’re using a peel, mask or scrub, simply follow the instructions on the back of the product. The best glycolic acid scrub is one that combines chemical exfoliants, which use AHAs or enzymes to dissolve the glue that holds the dead skin cells together, and physical exfoliants, which use particles, powders or beads to mechanically slough off dead skin. Vichy Normaderm 3-in-1 Scrub + Cleanser + Mask uses both methods: Glycolic and salicylic acids are the chemical actions, while pumice is the physical action.

b. What goes well with glycolic acid


Glycolic acid is a team player. What we mean by this is that it’s much more effective when it’s paired with other active ingredients. If you want to fight acne and reduce shine, look for a product containing both glycolic and salicylic acids, like Vichy Normaderm Anti-Acne Double Action Moisturizer. To brighten up a complexion and tackle hyperpigmentation, consider a mix of vitamin C and glycolic acid. Try Vichy LiftActiv Specialist Peptide-C Ampoule in the morning and Vichy LiftActiv Specialist Glyco-C Ampoules in the evening. To double down on anti-aging benefits, pair glycolic acid with either lactic acid or malic acid, both of which unblock pores so that exfoliation is more effective.

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