Benefits of Glycolic Acid
  • Know about Glycolic Acid
  • Properties in Glycolic Acid
  • Benefits of Glycolic Acid
Skincare Benefits of Glycolic Acid

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Skincare Benefits of Glycolic Acid

Do you ever wonder why some people spend time in the same temperature as you, but their skin stays clear with a Korean glow all year round? The answers to each question related to glowing skin lie in one super ingredient - Glycolic Acid. However, glycolic acid is an incredible ingredient for getting well-cleared, healthy, glowing, and radiant skin all year round.

Are you wondering what glycolic acid does for the skin? Well, glycolic acid is a mineral that chemically exfoliates the skin by disintegrating dead skin cells and oils. It may even enhance your collagen production and support skin moisture. So stay tuned with us to level up your skincare routine with glycolic acid to protect your skin from the most common foe, "acne."

So, What is Glycolic Acid?

Glycolic acid is a natural compound directly derived from certain fruits, beets, and sugarcane. It belongs to the family of alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs), one of the most popular materials in skin care products.

However, glycolic acid is the lightest molecular weight among all acids, and in its pure form, it is colorless, making it easier to exfoliate the skin to provide maximum benefits. Most cosmetic and pharmaceutical products contain glycolic acid to improve skin health or enhance skin texture and appearance.

Whether you're facing oily or acne-prone skin, dry skin, dull complexions, sun-damaged skin, or mature skin, glycolic acid is an ideal ingredient to add to your skincare routine. It boosts seborrhoea on young or oily skin and enhances mature or dry skin based on the amount of glycolic acid.

Please note that excessive amounts of glycolic acid may sometimes irritate sensitive skin.

Properties Contained in Glycolic Acid

Glycolic acid contains the following properties:

  • Exfoliative

    Glycolic acid is the smallest and lightest acid, making it easier to penetrate the outermost layer of skin cells and old by dissolving them. Despite the other human-made exfoliants, like face scrubs and brushes, you don't have to scrub harshly while using glycolic acid.
  • Humectant

    Glycolic acid is a humectant that reduces the skin's moisture and binds water to skin cells. It boosts the synthesis of glycosaminoglycans, which draws water into the skin.
  • Antibacterial

    According to research, at specific concentrations, glycolic acid can prevent the growth of bacteria.
  • Anti-aging

    It also prevents the process of skin aging by enhancing fine wrinkles and improving the skin's tone and texture. For instance, it reduces sun damage and enhances collagen and hyaluronic acid production in the skin.

Skin Benefits of Glycolic Acid

Studies indicate that glycolic acid may help with the following:

  • Prevent Fine Lines and Wrinkles

    Glycolic acid prevents fine lines and wrinkles by exfoliating the top layer of the skin. It boosts the skin cell renewal process and collagen production and improves the skin's natural ability to bind water to the skin. Apart from penetrating dead skin cells, glycolic acid removes the dead cells and flattens the skin's layers, beneficial to making wrinkles less noticeable.
  • Hydrates Skin

    Hydrated skin is ideal for healthy or glowing skin, and glycolic acid contains a humectant that reduces the skin's moisture and binds water to skin cells.
  • Improve the Skin Glossiness

    As mentioned above, glycolic acid is the tiniest molecule penetrating the outermost skin layer and removing dead skin cells. It helps you to get fresh, baby-soft skin that is bright, smooth, and radiant.
  • Prevents Hyperpigmentation

    If you're facing hyperpigmentation, you may consider using glycolic acid regularly to fade mild hyperpigmentation, such as dark and age spots. However, hyperpigmentation is caused by an increase in melanin. It is the natural pigment that gives skin, hair, and eyes their color. Glycolic acid helps to remove the darker skin cells from the outermost layer of skin to reveal a fresh layer of even skin.
  • Fights Acne

    Glycolic acid is an incredible skincare ingredient that helps prevent acne and enhance your skin's appearance. It is an effective acne treatment because of its ability to unclog pores and lessen the production of comedones (blackheads and whiteheads). It may also improve the inflammation and redness associated with acne breakouts.
  • Allows penetration of ingredients

    Glycolic acid contains several skincare properties to increase skin cell renewals and allow deeper exfoliation of the skin to provide maximum benefits. Glycolic acid is the lightest molecular weight among all acids making it easier to exfoliate the skin and give you faster results.
  • UV Damage

    Sun UV rays can affect the skin and may cause skin damage, and the visible symptoms of this include:
    • Sunspots
    • Hyperpigmentation
    • Wrinkles
    Based on the research, glycolic acid is an ideal treatment for sun damage to the skin. It also contains properties that may be effective against the Sun's UV rays, which may help reduce photoaging.

Possible concerns with Glycolic Acid

All chemicals or mechanical exfoliants have some possible concerns. They include the following:

  • UV Damage

    AHAs may prevent the damage caused by the Sun's UV rays. To prevent the damage, AHAs have to remove the top layer of skin cells. That may leave the skin cells underneath vulnerable to further sun damage. So, applying sunscreen regularly before going outside may be necessary if you're using glycolic acid.
  • IrritationĀ 

    While using skincare products that contain glycolic acid, people usually don't complain about the side effects. For "those with dry or sensitive skin, it can be irritating, and they may experience:
    • Redness or inflammation
    • Itching
    • Swelling
    • Burning
    If you're facing any symptoms mentioned above while using glycolic acid, wash the products off and discontinue use. The Worst side effects people can experience are due to:
    • Uncareful use of a higher percentage of glycolic acid products.
    • They use it too frequently.
    • Apply near the eyes.
  • Hyperpigmentation

    Please note that people with darker skin should be aware that excessive use of glycolic acid may lead to hyperpigmentation. Darker skin is rich in melanin, and minor irritations like redness and peeing may trigger an inflammatory response, which may tend to hyperpigmentation.


Glycolic acid is an incredible skincare ingredient. Most cosmetic and pharmaceutical companies use glycolic acid in their products to improve skin health. But, the excessive use of products that contain glycolic acid may lead to side effects that can burn or scar skin. It is advisable to use glycolic acid prescribed by a dermatologist.

Glycolic Acid for Skin: FAQs

1. Does glycolic acid lighten skin?

No, glycolic acid won't lighten skin tone, but it may reduce dark spots or hyperpigmentation.

2. Does glycolic acid remove tan?

Yes, glycolic acid removes fake tans from the top layer of the skin.

3. What to avoid when using glycolic acid?

While using glycolic acid, you may avoid using other chemical exfoliants because excessive exfoliation may cause dry skin and irritation.

4. How long does glycolic acid last on the face?

You can leave glycolic acid on your face for three to ten minutes for noticeable results.

5. Can glycolic acid reduce dark circles?

Yes, the hyperpigmentation underneath the eyes may be reduced with the regular use of alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs).

6. Can I sleep with glycolic acid on my face?

Yes, using nightly glycolic acid on your face is usually fair because it contains low acid concentration (usually 8 - 10% or less).

7. Is glycolic acid good for Indian skin?

Glycolic acid is a multitasking skincare ingredient that contains strong AHA. It may be suitable for all skin types but might show some side effects or irritation on sensitive skin.

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Sahil Singh Kathait

Written By: Sahil Singh Kathait

Sahil is a passionate content writer with over two years of expertise in the insurance domain. He uses his knowledge in the field to create engaging content that the customer can relate to and understand. His passion lies in simplifying insurance terminology, ensuring a hassle-free understanding for potential policyholders. With his outstanding collaborative efforts with people, he understands different perspectives and keeps readers' viewpoints at the forefront of his content writing approach.