What is glycolic acid?

Thanks to its exfoliating, moisturizing, anti-wrinkle and anti-dark spot power, glycolic acid is one of the best anti-aging active ingredients dedicated to the skin. Discover its benefits.

Article written in collaboration with L'Oréal Paris.

Glycolic acid (also known as hydroxyacetic acid) is the smallest of the alpha hydroxy acids (or AHAs), which are glycolic, lactic, malic, citric and tartaric acids. It is derived from sugar cane, grapes or pineapple, and vegetables such as beets and artichokes, but can also be synthetic. It is in this form that it is most frequently used in cosmetics, in particular to reduce their pH.

Glycolic acid is also the best known of the fruit acids because its low molecular weight allows it to penetrate all layers of the skin, making its properties more effective and its results visible quickly. Its main asset? It is rather well tolerated by all skin types: normal, combination to oily and even slightly sensitive or mature. Provided, however, that you use this so-called "skin renovator" asset properly.

Glycolic acid is a keratolytic active, which means that when it comes in contact with the stratum corneum (the surface layer of the epidermis) and more specifically with keratin, it is able to eliminate dead cells. A phenomenon that accelerates the process of natural desquamation. In this, it considerably improves the skin quality of those who use it. The complexion is soft, smooth, toned, luminous and even. Unlike mechanical scrubs, it is not necessary to massage the skin tonically to remove dead cells.

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Video by Loïcia Fouillen

The properties of glycolic acid

1. It removes dead cells and promotes cell regeneration to give the skin a smoother appearance and an even complexion by destroying the intercellular cement connecting the cells together. By easily penetrating the deep layers of the dermis, it promotes the renewal of cells, which then give themselves a new youth, for more toned skin.

2. By exfoliating the epidermis and therefore stimulating skin renewal, this star radiance active ingredient is an ally for skin damaged by UV rays from the sun or marked by the harmful effects of tobacco. Indeed, by stagnating on the surface of the face, these dead skin tends to dull the complexion. It also helps reduce small scars left by acne, for example.

3. It has an anti-dark spot action, whether due to UV rays, acne or age. A result due, again, to its impact on cell renewal, but not only. In fact, when glycolic acid penetrates the deep layers of the skin, it is able to inhibit the excess production of melanin and regulate the action of cells so that the pigments that cause spots do not mark. the skin. A study * has also shown that the application of a concentrated treatment of 5% glycolic acid would reduce the effects of photoaging.

4. The action of glycolic acid in the dermis also helps smooth wrinkles by stimulating the synthesis of collagen and elastin, which are responsible for skin meshing. However, skin rich in collagen and elastin (the natural production of which decreases and is of poorer quality over time) means firmer and smoother skin!

5. Another advantage of glycolic acid: its ability to regulate the production of sebum in the epidermis. It is also very effective in tightening the pores and refining the skin texture. The result is less shiny and oily skin on the surface, makeup that holds on better … In this, it is the ally of combination to oily or blemish-prone skin.

6. Thanks to its microscopic size, glycolic acid is able to easily slip into all layers of the skin and promote absorption of products applied afterwards. Thanks to the cell renewal induced by the active ingredient, your skin will be better prepared to absorb the active ingredients that promote hydration (hyaluronic acid), the prevention of oxidation (vitamin C) or even vitamins and minerals … retinol (vitamin A), which matches poorly with glycolic acid. In this, it keeps the skin soft and supple, perfectly plump and toned, because its insensible water loss is minimal throughout the day. In addition to this, you need to know more about it.

In which treatments can you find glycolic acid?

It is easily found in an INCI list, where it is indicated by the English term "glycolic acid". A benchmark active ingredient in peels dedicated to improving the radiance and harmony of the complexion, glycolic acid is also found in exfoliating solutions or lotions, serums or night creams targeted as products for oily skin or intended to boost l radiance of the complexion. There are even some AHA based body care products like glycolic acid that help smooth and soften the body. They are to be used daily to obtain a better quality of skin. This type of care can be found in specialty shops, but also in pharmacies and supermarkets.

Do you want to achieve a real anti-aging effect? Appointment for a cosmetic consultation, where a specialist doctor can do a dermatological peel with much more visible results (the glycolic acid concentration in this type of practice can reach up to 90%), because they act much more in depth. The treatment protocols in fact provide for applications in the form of cures, with a gradual increase in the concentration of glycolic acid over the course of the sessions and according to the reaction of the skin …

Are there any contraindications to glycolic acid?

Like all existing acids, glycolic acid can be irritating to the skin, especially if misused and / or chosen incorrectly. Hence the importance of taking maximum precautions before you start.
You may experience a tingling sensation during use which is quite normal. On the other hand, an intense burning sensation is not ordinary and should prompt you to quickly remove the treatment with clean water.
If you are prone to skin reactions like redness, stinging, allergies, go your way, and prefer a lighter acid, like BHA.

How to choose your glycolic acid peel?

This is by far the most common chemical peel (as opposed to mechanical grain exfoliators) on the beauty shelves of drugstores and beauty shops. A glycolic acid peel is ideal for clearing skin in just a few minutes. This fruit acid dissolves the intercellular glue that binds dead cells together and to the rest of the epidermis, leaving it smooth and soft. Eliminating dead skin also helps revive and boost cell regeneration, for a face that regains tone and radiance.

There are different types of peels, which stand out in particular for their glycolic acid concentration. It's simple, the more concentrated they are in active ingredients, the more they perform and act in depth. Thus, we find rather gentle peels with 4 to 10% glycolic acid, dedicated to young and / or sensitive skin. At less than 5%, the effect will be mostly hydrating. Beyond that, its detoxifying action will have a great effect on the radiance of the complexion or emerging wrinkles.
The strongest peels, on the other hand, contain around 15-20% glycolic acid. They are particularly useful for treating acne marks or age spots, as well as deep wrinkles.

New to the use of glycolic acid peels? Better safe than sorry by opting for a light version. Then, if your skin tolerates it, gradually increase the concentration for more results. Do not hesitate to consult a dermatologist before using a highly concentrated glycolic acid peel. Especially since European legislation is very vague with regard to the concentration and pH allowed in topical self-service treatments.

What is the correct use for a glycolic acid peel?

First, make sure your skin is healthy and strong enough to take a peel. To do this, choose a formula in which glycolic acid is low in concentration.

Once your skin has been thoroughly cleansed and cleansed (a double make-up removal will be ideal), all you have to do is do your peel. Apply the material to your skin with the pads of your fingers, or a brush with synthetic bristles. Be careful, avoid areas around the eyes and mouth that are too sensitive to withstand a peel without the intervention of a cosmetic doctor. Leave on for the time indicated on the pack and rinse your hands well.

Finally, rinse your face with clean water before applying a rich and comforting moisturizer. You will be happy to discover that the results of a glycolic acid peel are noticeable soon after they are applied to the skin.

What are the precautions to take after a glycolic acid peel?

Preferably, perform your glycolic acid peel in the evening and outside very sunny seasons, as this active ingredient is photosensitizing. Still wear sun protection on your skin the next day. Indeed, your weakened skin would not withstand exposure to UV rays and could mark it.
If there is no point in over-exfoliating your skin, at the risk of sensitizing it – consider using your peel regularly to get visible anti-aging results. But be careful, the more concentrated it is and its lower pH (thus making the treatment acidic), the more space the exfoliation sessions will have to be!

Last precaution to take: avoid combining it with irritating cosmetics such as those based on retinoic acid (vitamin A).

Read also :
– The essential vitamins for beautiful skin.
– The 4 major cosmetic virtues of fruit acids.

Our selection of glycolic acid products to test at home (delivery possible)

Revitalift Laser X3 7-Day Peeling Ampoule Cure – L’Oréal Paris

Our opinion : Does your skin display an uneven complexion and fine lines in spite of you? Here is THE solution! This treatment in the form of ampoules signed L'Oréal Paris, inspired by the cures delivered by aesthetic doctors will resurface your skin in just seven days of use. Fewer spots, more shine, we love it!

10% Glycolic Acid Serum – Lab-1008 – typology.

Our opinion : This serum, composed of 10% glycolic acid, eliminates dead skin, reduces blackheads and reduces skin imperfections such as acne marks, spots and enlarged pores. Over time, the skin texture is smoother and more even.

Glycolic acid stimulating night cream – Dermaceutic

Our opinion : The glycolic acid in this product removes dead cell residue and leaves the skin feeling soft and velvety, like rejuvenated. No more fine lines and wrinkles, skin aging is delayed and the harmful effects of the sun, stress or even pollution are only a distant memory.

AHA 30% + BHA 2% Peeling Solution – The Ordinary.

Our opinion : This treatment is formulated with glycolic acid and 2% salicylic acid. The brand recommends applying it to dry skin, before leaving it on for ten minutes as a mask to deeply exfoliate the skin in order to fight against visible imperfections and give more radiance to the complexion. As the formula is also enriched with hydrating hyaluronic acid, restorative vitamin B5 and a calming Tasmanian pepper derivative, the skin and its well-being are preserved while being sublimated.

Glycolic Acid Cleansing Foam – Neostrata

Our opinion : Used morning and / or evening, this cleanser helps the face to get rid of impurities, but also to gently exfoliate the skin so that it gets rid of dead skin that clogs the pores. The cell regeneration process is reboosted every day for a skin that can not be more toned.

Glycolic acid scrub – Nip + Fab

Our opinion : This glycolic acid scrub works wonders on combination to oily skin, while maintaining a rather gentle "peel effect". Simply apply it to wet skin and massage the face with the pads of your fingers for a creamy texture to develop. It is then left on for two minutes before rinsing and discovering a much more attractive skin.

The Glycolic Peeling Mask – Caudalie

Our opinion : Feedback on this new skin effect mask has been ecstatic since its launch. And for good reason ! For a very reasonable price, it not only smooths the skin in a few minutes, but also improves skin texture and facial luminosity.