The type of alpha hydroxy acid commonly abbreviated as (AHA) obtained from cane sugar is known as glycolic acid. Alpha hydroxy acid is a type of carboxylic acids which are derived from various food stuffs like apple, milk and citrus fruits. When rubbed on the skin, alpha hydroxy acid promotes the exfoliation of epidermal cells removing dead skin cells and other fragments hence advancing the growth of new cells. Of all the alpha hydroxy acids, glycolic acid is the one which bears the smallest molecules. For that reason, it is preferred over the other AHAs since it can quickly go through the skin pores. Glycolic acid can easily penetrate to the innermost skin layer known as the dermis where it can efficiently heal the symptoms of photo-aging. Glycolic acid has numerous benefits on the skin such as; boosting the density of collagen, diminish skin discoloration, reinforcing elastin, and also promotes the production of hyaluronic acid and collagen. Glycolic acid is often smeared as a peel in high concentration. Low concentrations of glycolic acid can be found in moisturizers and cleansers. The latter is helpful in curing oiliness, acne and dullness. It can also be utilized in the diminishing of skin redness.
How it functions
Glycolic acid works by destroying the sticky substance that joins the skin cells. In low concentration, glycolic acid can be used to eradicate dead skin cells and other fragments. A higher concentration of glycolic acid has a more effect since it can eliminate dead skin cells and the outermost layer of the skin to expose the underlying layer which is usually fresh and newer. Glycolic acid promotes the fabrication of healthy and new cells through the removing of dead skin cells. The overall effect of the glycolic acid is to enhance the appearance of your skin complexion.
What it does
The availability of glycolic acid concentration ranges from as low as 2% to 70%. Glycolic acid is often regarded and done as a peel when the concentration is above 20%. Low concentration of glycolic acid, however, important is very much slower in effect as compared to peel or rather high concentration of glycolic acid. Occasional use of peel is therefore recommended over the application of cleanser. High concentration of glycolic acid smooths and removes the outermost epidermis layer clearing the appearance of an external destruction of skin and consequently exposing the fresh underlying layer of skin.
Reaction to different types of skin
Various types of skins react differently to glycolic acid. The reason is that glycolic acid functions by destroying the bond between skin cells and due to its acidic nature, it interferes with the pH of the natural barrier of the skin. Users should take note that depending on their skin type, a certain concentration of the glycolic acid should be applied or avoided entirely.
- Normal skin- people with healthy skin are significant beneficiaries of glycolic acid. Both low and high concentrations of glycolic acid can react well to their skin. It is, however, advisable to seek a specialist service in case of glycolic acid peel rather than doing it yourself.
- Sensitive skin- due to high acidity levels of glycolic acid, sensitive skin is more likely to react negatively to the acid. Application of glycolic acid peel on the sensitive skin often leads to irritation and causes redness of the skin surface. However, effects of glycolic acid are more durable and extreme when applied to sensitive skin. It is advisable to seek a specialist’s service when intending to use the glycolic acid peel on sensitive skin.
- Oily skin- oily skin reacts to glycolic acid in a similar manner as normal skin does. The reason is that oily skin has a lot of sebum, and hence high concentration of glycolic acid is preferable. It is, however, advisable to smear the acid in a small area to test the reaction rather than applying a high concentration of glycolic acid all over your face all at once.
- Dry skin- Dry skin can advantage from both low and high concentration of glycolic acid. Using a moisturizer after the application of glycolic acid peel is recommended so as to reduce dryness and irritation that may follow.
- Combination- in the case of a combination type of skin, users should begin with a low concentration of glycolic acid to test the effect before proceeding to higher concentrations of glycolic acid.
In as much as glycolic acid has various benefits to skin, the frequent use of the same is usually accompanied by certain negative effective. Redness, dryness and formation of white crusts on the skin surface are the common side effects of the intense and frequent application of glycolic acid. Users should take note that “frosting’’ is common and quite harmless but the picking at it can lead to adverse effects known as hyper-pigmentation and also scarring of the skin. Mixing of different types of AHAs is also harmful since it may cause the skin to be very fragile and sensitive consequently leading to certain side effects. Another adverse effect of glycolic acid is that its continuous use renders the outermost epidermis layer hypersensitive to UV rays. Sun protection should, therefore, accompany the frequent use of glycolic acid.
In conclusion, for the glycolic acid to be of enormous help, users should consider the type of their skin. Users should also be patient and avoid applying large amounts of highly concentrated glycolic acid for instant results since it will come with various side effects. Cleansers are of importance for mild results. Individuals intending to use highly concentrated glycolic acid peel should consult specialists before doing so.