Make Up Artist

Skincare 101: Glycolic Acid: What is it, how does it work, how do you use it?

Skincare 101: Glycolic Acid: What is it, how does it work, how do you use it?

Glycolic Acid has become a holy grail for me for keeping my skin all clear and delicious. But more on that in a minute.

It’s another one of those buzzword things that seems to pop up on adverts of people with beautiful skin. And glycolic acid is definitely more scary than hyaluronic. In that it actually does some acid-y things.

What is it?

It’s part of cool, technical-sounding group called AHAs (alpha hydroxy acids) which come from fruit and milk. Sounds less scary now. It originally came from sugar cane but is usually manmade now. Lactic acid and citric acid are part of the same band.

How does it work?

It’s a chemical exfoliant (as opposed to those gritty ones) and it removes the top layer of dead skin cells to leave your skin looking more glowy. Essentially, it dissolves the “glue” holding the gross old skin cells on. It can also help with dryness in that sense – provided you follow it up with a good moisturiser. It’s a good one for anti-ageing as well as general dullness, as it can give a more youthful appearance if used regularly. The molecules of glycolic are the smallest out of all the AHAs so it is the most able to penetrate the skin.

How to use it?

Salons do crazy peels which are a bit more intense, but at home versions include toner-esque solutions (my personal favourite Alpha H Liquid Gold but The Ordinary also do some strong concoctions), wipes and in masks. The trick is to start with a low concentration because they can irritate your skin. You can build it up gradually if you need to. AHAs will increase your sensitivity to UV rays so always wear sunscreen after using them.


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