Glycolic acid is the smallest, most common, and one of the safest alpha-hydroxy acids. This natural ingredient, which is derived from sugar cane, can be found in a variety of skincare products. Glycolic acid is most commonly found in exfoliating products because of its ability to penetrate deep within the skin, removing dead cells and bringing fresh new ones to the surface. It can also be found in cleansers, moisturizers, and facial peels among other products. When choosing a product with glycolic acid, it’s important to make sure it is listed as an active ingredient.
Glycolic acid has worked wonders for those suffering from skin conditions such as psoriasis (itchy, dry patches), melasma (brown or gray patches), and seborrheic keratosis (non-cancerous skin growths). It can also help treat fine lines, wrinkles, and scarring. Another benefit of glycolic acid is its ability to transfer water molecules from the air into the skin, keeping it consistently hydrated and smooth. When first using glycolic acid, you may want to start with a lower percentage to see how your skin reacts to it. It’s also important to wear extra sunscreen if spending an extensive amount of time outdoors, since glycolic acid makes your skin more sensitive to the sun.