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Glycolic acid-what it is and what it does for your skin

Glycolic acid belongs to the set of ingredients called AHA’s or alpha hydroxyl acids. While it’s a natural ingredient derived from sugar cane, it’s often synthetically manufactured now. Though there are four other AHA ingredients- lactic, acid, malic and tartaric acids, glycolic acid is the most common and safest form.

An exfoliator, glycolic acid helps remove the outer dead skin cell layers to gives a fresh new and younger looking surface skin layer. This means glycolic acid is an ingredient with anti-aging properties. Moreover, it helps lighten any skin discolorations like age or sun spots and helps those with blackhead and acne prone skin.


This is why glycolic acid exists in various products like serums, moisturizers, facial cleansers, face peels and eye creams. It’s usually listed at the top of the product’s active ingredients list with a percentage.

As it’s of the general opinion that stay-on products like serums and creams with less than 10% of glycolic acid don’t actually give much skin benefits, you need to check the percentage. However combined glycolic products are ok like a product with 3% facial cleanser and 10% serum.

3 different types of glycolic acid facial peels

There are 3 main types of facial feels with glycolic acid you can use for younger looking skin:

In-office peels

In-office peels can be done in the office, and are quick and effective as they have 50% or higher glycolic acid concentration and needs be left on your skin for only a few minutes. As these peels can be easily done in your lunch break, they are called ‘lunch peels’.

At-home peels

While these higher concentration peels give better results, there are also at-home glycolic acid peels you can buy and use yourself. However the in-office peels are a better option at least for the first time to find out how your skin reacts to the peel.

Make-at-home peels

Online research will give you some information about glycolic acid face peel recipes you can make and try out at home. However it’s recommended that you stick with a product line or office procedure for guaranteed and better results.

Important point to note

Despite all these advantages of glycolic acid, you should note and remember to definitely wear sunscreen when you wear AHA’s like glycolic acid. This is because when you use glycolic acid, your skin tends to grow more susceptible to sunburn.