Why is Everyone Talking About Glycolic Acid?

HK Vitals

Glycolic acid has become a sensation in the skincare world. Its high exfoliating properties are capturing the attention of enthusiasts and experts alike. Let’s read through to understand the science behind glycolic acid’s transformative benefits for skin and how to use glycolic acid for the best results.

What is Glycolic Acid?

Glycolic acid is a type of alpha hydroxy acid (AHA), a plant-based organic acid derived from sugarcane. It is water-soluble and packs tiny molecules that readily penetrate the skin.

How Does Glycolic Acid Work?

It’s the small molecular size and water-soluble nature that makes glycolic acid for skin supreme. 

The molecules of glycolic acid enter the skin, they break down the bonds between dead skin cells. This helps in sloughing away the dead skin cells from the top layer of the skin and speeding up cell turnover. 

It subsequently works to stimulate the production of collagen. As the levels of collagen in the skin increase, one can see visible improvement in skin texture, elasticity, and complexion. Regular use of glycolic acid also helps reduce the breakdown of existing collagen, a trait linked to skin aging. 

Glycolic Acid Benefits

Glycolic acid’s ability to exfoliate and promote collagen production promises dual benefits of AHA on the skin. Some of its key advantages include:

  • Exfoliation – Glycolic acid effectively exfoliates the skin. It removes dead skin cells and helps reveal a smoother and more radiant complexion.
  • Improved Skin Texture – The small molecule size gets easily absorbed within the skin layers, helping in refining skin texture by reducing rough and uneven skin.
  • Even Skin Tone – Glycolic acid helps fade hyperpigmentation, dark spots, and acne scars, revealing a more even skin tone.
  • Anti-Aging Properties – Glycolic acid’s ability to stimulate collagen production plays a crucial role in reversing and slowing down the signs of skin aging.
  • Acne Treatment – The natural exfoliating properties help unclog pores and combat the growth of acne-causing bacteria.
  • Promotes Hydration – Unlike other exfoliants, glycolic acid retains moisture in the skin. 

Glycolic Acid and Different Skin Types

Is glycolic acid safe for skin? Well, the answer to this will depend upon your skin type. While glycolic acid suits most skin types, individuals with dry or sensitive skin might complain of skin irritation upon application. Therefore, people with dry or sensitive skin can either skip glycolic acid or pick products with lower concentrations of glycolic acid. Most skincare products available over-the-counter contain up to 10% glycolic acid.

How to Use Glycolic Acid?

Considering glycolic acid for skin? While it can work wonders for the skin, using glycolic acid in a skincare routine requires careful consideration. 

Here’s how to use glycolic acid effectively and safely:

  • Patch Test – It is important to perform a small patch test on the skin inside of your wrist or behind the ear to check if the skin is sensitive to the product.
  • Choose the Right Product – Select a glycolic acid product with a concentration suitable for your skin type and concerns. Always start with a lower concentration, around 5-8%, and gradually increase if needed.
  • Evening Application – It’s best to use glycolic acid as part of the nighttime skincare routine. This allows the skin to recover overnight. 
  • Follow It Up With Moisturizer – Once the glycolic acid is absorbed into the skin, follow it up with a moisturizer to help retain hydration. 
  • Sunscreen – Glycolic acid increases sun sensitivity, so sunscreen application is necessary. Always apply sunscreen with at least SPF 30 the following morning, even if there are no plans of stepping outdoors.
  • Frequency – Use glycolic acid a few times a week and gradually add it to your daily skincare routine.


Glycolic acid has become a skincare sensation due to its potent exfoliating properties and collagen-boosting effects. A type of AHA, it penetrates quickly into the skin to promote cell turnover. While it’s suitable for most skin types, people with dry and sensitive skin must exercise caution. Using it as a part of the nighttime skincare routine, it promises great results with visibly radiant and younger-looking skin.

HK Vitals


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