These days glycolic acid has been an increasingly popular skin care ingredient. This is simply because it is good at treating a variety of skin problems, such as acne, dullness, stretch marks, oiliness, and pigmentation, thanks to its smaller molecules that penetrate the skin more easily than others. Although it is widely used in skin resurfacing or exfoliation, its side effects do exist. Fortunately, for most people it is still considered a safe peeling treatment.
It belongs to AHA’s (alpha hydroxy acids). This chemical is derived from sugar cane. For that reason, it can also be considered a natural substance. It is worth mentioning that citric acid from lime or other citrus may also be classified in this group. Industrial uses of this chemical include degreasing and descaling. Therefore, it is dangerous to expose skin to the pure acid (typically more than 70% concentration). In fact, government authorities stipulate any materials that contain more than 10% concentration of glycolic acid are hazardous.
Most consumers do not know it can be used for beauty as well. Actually its effectiveness and safety still remain a source of debate so far. A lot of people think that this is an amazing natural skin exfoliant and moisturizer. But some others see things differently and think that the glycolic acid products of 10% or less concentration are virtually useless. But the problem is that some of the largest cosmetics companies will not increase the concentration in the product to protect them against liability. That’s to say, more than 10% concentration will only occur in the products made by a few small cosmetics companies.
When it comes to beauty, this ingredient offers at least two benefits. On the one hand, it can be used for exfoliating purpose because it is high in acidity and, more importantly, easy to dissolve. When its products in the forms of cream and gel are applied topically on the skin, the active ingredients will penetrate into the damaged bottom layers of skin, extract the dead cells to the surface, and then remove them all. As a result, the users will get smoother and younger-looking skin over time. On the other hand, it can still serve as a good moisturizer for the surface of the newly exfoliated skin. No wonder usually the entire lineup of skin-care products is typically available at some beauty counters. By the way, other moisturizing and neutralizing ingredients found in tartaric acid series can offset its corrosivity.
One of the main drawbacks of glycolic acid containing exfoliants and moisturizers is to possibly make the skin of the users particularly sensitive to sunlight. For that reason, many experts suggest that it is best to take protective measures after the use of exfoliating lotion with this ingredient. However, once the 10% concentration of it has caused skin damage, it is controversial to whether continue it or not. Some customers would like to choose chemical peels for better resurfacing effects. This approach involves a number of steps and the use of strong acid. And up to 50% or more is usually used in glycolic peeling. What should be pointed out, however, is that 70% is the highest concentration available from the suppliers. Apparently, this body treatment technique involves very powerful chemical processes.
During the early healing period after the use of a chemical peel, skin tends to look like going through severe burns, which usually take a few days to return to normal. Some proponents say that this process can be dangerous and even ugly, but the result is so good that it is worth trying.
In a word, glycolic acid peels work like a magic wand when they are properly used at the appropriate concentration. But it should be noted that extra caution should be used in the storage of such chemicals. Most importantly, it must also be kept out of the reach of children since it can be dangerous and even life-threatening.