Glycolic acid: The lowdown (what it is, its beauty applications and common product use)

Derived from sugarcane, glycolic acid is an alpha-hydroxy acid (AHA) that has become a staple in beauty formulations due to its ability to exfoliate, renew, and enhance the overall complexion.

If you’ve been thinking about using glycolic acid in your next beauty launch, here’s everything you need to about its origins, beauty applications, and common product uses.

What is Glycolic Acid?

Glycolic acid, the smallest molecule among AHAs, is derived from sugarcane and falls under the category of water-soluble acids.

Other AHAs, like lactic and citric acid, help to fade dark spots, improve skin texture, and reduce some of the more visible signs of aging. The molecular structure of these ingredients also allows them to penetrate deep into the skin with ease – which is the main reason why it’s so effective in various beauty applications.

The Benefits of Glycolic Acid

Glycolic acid's primary function is exfoliation. Breaking down the bonds between dead skin cells on the skin's surface helps slough off dull and damaged skin to reveal a fresher complexion.

With regular use, customers will notice a more refined skin texture, diminished fine lines, and an even skin tone. It can also address concerns such as hyperpigmentation and sun damage.

Common Products That Use Glycolic Acid

Glycolic acid is featured in a variety of skincare products, here are just some of their most popular uses.

  1. Glycolic Acid Cleansers

Glycolic acid cleansers offer a gentle way to introduce the acid into a daily skincare routine. Used within a double-cleanse routine, a glycolic cleanser will provide mild exfoliation that will be good for people with more sensitive skin.

  1. Glycolic Acid Serums

Serums with glycolic acid offer concentrated treatment for specific skincare concerns. Whether targeting hyperpigmentation, fine lines, or uneven texture, these serums deliver a potent dose of glycolic acid directly to the skin.

Normally you’d use them as part of a nightly skincare routine so it can get to work while you sleep, and you only need to use them a couple of nights a week.

  1. Glycolic Acid Masks

For a more intensive treatment, a glycolic acid mask is a good addition to any skincare routine.

These masks offer a more concentrated dose of glycolic acid for those seeking a quick and effective solution.

  1. Glycolic Acid Moisturizers

Finally, you have glycolic acid moisturizers, which give the perfect blend of hydration and exfoliation.

Ideal for daily use, glycolic acid moisturizers are suitable for people who prefer simple skincare products and don’t want to add more products to their routine.

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