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Glycolic acid: What is it? What does it do for my skin? How do I use it?

Here’s the skinny on what everyone is talking about…

What is Glycolic Acid?

Glycolic acid is a naturally occurring substance derived from plants – such as sugar cane, pineapple and sugar beets - and when used in skincare products offers many benefits to the skin, from rejuvenating to moisturizing.

Benefits of Glycolic Acid

Glycolic acid is the holy grail for exfoliation, effectively removing the outermost layer of dead cells from the complexion, revealing brighter, fresher skin. You’ll find it in many chemical peels and has become a key ingredient in many skin care products. Products that contain Glycolic acid are used often to treat scarring, skin discoloration and signs of aging by assisting in boosting collagen and reducing fine lines and wrinkles. At low strengths, Glycolic acid is the key ingredient to look out for when it comes to shopping anti-aging moisturizers or face masks, ideal for plumping, smoothing and refreshing your complexion.

How Does It Work?

It reacts with the top layer of skin, breaking it down by dissolving sebum and other substances that bind cells together. Made up of small molecules, it is able to penetrate the skin deeply and easily. This makes it most effective for treating fine lines, acne, blackheads, dullness, oiliness and uneven texture. Dead skin cells are sloughed off revealing smoother, brighter, younger looking skin.

The products available which feature Glycolic acid range in percentage of concentration, and also pH levels. A product with pure Glycolic acid in a lower concentration is much more effective than one which includes it along with other ingredients. However, for daily use, you may want a moisturizer which fuses Glycolic acid with natural ingredients.

How often should I be using Glycolics? Every other day, and I will tell you why…

Glycolic acid is not a “more the merrier” ingredient and needs to be used mindfully in conjunction with nourishing ingredients such as vitamin c and hyaluronic acid. The goal with AHA’s is to push the skin to become stronger but also allow to it fully recover and rebuild. What you use in between treatments is just as important as the treatment itself. You need to give your skin a rest so hydration masks or creams on opposite nights help soothe and replenish the skin.

I’ve been using Glycolics for a while, how do I know it’s time to step up my game and go for a stronger formulation?

Pretty much the same way you know when it’s time to add more weight to your bicep curls, extend your runs or hold your plank longer. If you are no longer seeing results from the same routine it’s time to take it to the next level.

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